Once again, I am posting this blog late. I apologize for the delay. After going through six weeks of the fast, I asked our people two simple questions: “What have you learned from this experience?” and “Do you plan on ever fasting again?” Here are some of their answers:
- I learned that it is very difficult to actually deny yourself a physical need, even if it is for a short period of time. I think it’s one thing to give up things that we desire (things that people typically give up for Lent), but it takes much more conviction to deny yourself things that your body really needs. I’m not sure that I’ve had enough time to fully grasp how this has affected me spiritually, but I would hope that it’s taught me how oblivious I can become to God’s provision in my everyday life. It is often necessary to remind ourselves that there is a vast difference between desires and needs, and the more we blur these two together the more we can become frustrated when “God doesn’t provide.” I would like to tell you that I could make fasting a regular part of my life, but I honestly don’t know. I do like the idea of doing the fast during the Lenten season because that small sacrifice helps to remind me and appreciate the fact that Christ made the ultimate sacrifice on my behalf.
- The overarching lesson that will never depart from me, I pray, is learning the importance of denying oneself of something simple, in order to be reminded by the hunger of our absolute dependence on the Lord. When I fast, sometimes I can’t focus because of the hunger and I must cry out to the Lord often and read His Word for strength. After doing this just one day a week, He then reminds me of this dependence throughout the week and a beautiful conversation results throughout the week! Also, the second lesson that sunk down to my cores is hope. Phil. 3:9-10 talks about sharing in Christ’s sufferings, death and then resurrection. Romans 8 has become near and dear to my heart after I am starting to truly understand the moans and groans of Creation as we patiently wait for what we do not have, but do indeed have the hope of the redemption of our bodies like Christ!!! This act of disciplining our bodies is not always fun, but it draws my stubborn heart to his throne and deeply teaches me things. Wow. I believe I am going to fast once a month and maybe move it to once a week, or have once a week be a special time during Lent before Easter. This experience has moved me greatly and I am so thankful for what is has taught me and fellow believers in our beloved body of Christ at HCBC!
- I am really glad that I decided to participate in the church-wide fast this spring. It taught me a lot about myself and where I am spiritually, and it made me think about things that may not have crossed my mind otherwise. I also liked the fact that I knew there were others in our community who were fasting together with me and that I was able to read the blog and learn from their thoughts and insights as well. I definitely think I will fast again in the future, although I would probably limit this discipline to once or twice a year so that it continues to be a unique and meaningful experience for me and not just a habit or obligation. I look forward to doing it again in the future and finding out how I’ve matured by then and in what ways the experience may or may not be different next time.
- One thing I discovered was that my appetite, despite being enormous on Mondays was very easily quenched on Tuesdays with very little food. Fasting for that amount of time totally took food’s control of me away. What was eye opening was how little I could eat on Tuesday and be satisfied when I wasn’t eating for comfort, but eating for necessity. In the end, there was a Matthew 6:26 revelation here. I realized that God may not always provide me a big chicken friend steak and potatoes (what I want), but will always provide me saltines and orange juice (what I need). Therefore, I should be thankful for all of the spiritual (or physical) food he gives me, knowing that while I may not always get what I want, he’s always going to provide me the strength I need to accomplish my goals. I would like to fast weekly. I think it’s been a great exercise and doing it weekly would allow me to reflect on God better and more frequently. That being said, as I have a horribly addictive personality, I don’t want it to be a habit I form just for the sake of doing it. I would certainly like to do it throughout lent going forward and am thinking that I may add it in at least once a month to see how it goes. I want it to still be a true commitment and not be taken lightly.
- I have learned to pray not for the hunger pangs to cease, but for me to LISTEN when I feel them. That’s been a huge life lesson. When I feel uncomfortable, my first response is to pray for relief – but I had to realize that what I should instead be seeking is growing closer to God through the suffering, rather than asking God to lessen the suffering. That’s also been one of the hardest lessons I’ve learned. My relationship with God has often been to seek His assistance to make my life more comfortable, less stressful, less straining, etc. But what does that get me? Complacency. And a tendency to fill my days with other pursuits. But the times I’m closest to God are when I’m not feeling all cushy. So in reality, I guess maybe I should be praying for more calamity, or at least discomfort, in my life so that I don’t lose focus!? (Reminds me of a scene from Evan Almighty when Evan feels like his life is falling apart and he realizes God is actually answering every one of his prayers!!) It’s way more difficult to be thankful for discomforts, but way more spiritually gratifying. Fasting definitely helped me to see that. . I think I will never look forward to fasting, but I’d definitely be willing to go through it again! I’ve grown tremendously and that makes it all worth having gone through.
- I have been moved spiritually (by this experience), I have never fasted and I had some eye opening experiences during my fast. I have discovered areas in my life that I need to work on that I had not thought about prior to the fast. I will fast again, I am not sure when I will need it again. The scripture 1 Corinthians 9 – 14, was really moving to me. It is one of my daughter’s favorite (she has it on the back of her letter jacket). The fast was only 24 hours, but serving the Lord is 24 hours a day 7 days a week. The fast required me to have self control and a frequent prayer during the day. I must run with the Lord in every aspect of my life and maintain self control. Prayer and scripture needs to be my first options, not me.
I’ve said this every week, but I am very grateful for this community and the experience we have shared together through fasting. I am going to incorporate a lot of what we learned together in a spiritual disciplines series in the fall. Until then, I pray that we all learn what it means to seek God through the disciplines and that when we struggle in this life, that we continue to struggle on this journey together. I pray that we all keep running hard after Christ!