Sunday March 24, 2013
I know I said I had my last meal yesterday, but really it was today. I love that without even planning it my fast will begin and end with the Lord’s Supper, communion with Christ. At the beginning I commune with him as he emptied himself and died. In the same way I want this fast to symbolize me emptying myself of the world and dying to sin. At the end I will commune with him to proclaim his resurrection, his fulfillment, and his hope. In the same way I want to be filled not with food, but with his perfect Spirit, his mind, and his love.
Physically, today was pretty easy. I sipped on high-calorie protein juice throughout the day so I could get used to lower calories without so quickly losing my nutrients. But of course, tonight my suitemates ordered my favorite pizza and brought it in my room and ate it in front of me, furthermore proving that God thinks he’s hilarious.
Meditation Scripture: Ezekiel 36
Monday March 25, 2013
The best place to go when you hunger is to God. The worst place to go when you hunger is to Pinterest.
Today got off to a rough start physically. While getting ready for class I almost blacked out twice. I had been prepared to deal with some dizziness around this point in the fast, but this was a little more intense. However, at this point in the morning I hadn’t had anything to drink, I kinda cut myself in the shower and there was a lot of blood involved (and I’m rather queasy), and this early morning light-headedness isn’t completely abnormal for me, so I’m not too worried about it. After some juice and a little more sleep I felt completely fine for the rest of the day. I’m going to attempt doing water only tomorrow, but I have some emergency juice in the fridge if I start feeling like that again. I also bought some energy boost water flavor powder to put in my water. Perhaps this is cheating in the strictest sense of fasting, but it’s also impossible for me to get a recommended safe amount of sleep and obviously my blood sugar is not taking this change very well. But I’m told that my body will start to adapt to it in the next couple days.
I had also read that when negative feelings occur, it’s not because of lack of food, but rather lack of spiritual strength in those areas. I have really struggled with pride today, mainly because I feel that I have overcome some major temptations. I feel like food has practically being thrown at me. I spend weeks scrounging around for cracker crumbs to eat, and today all of a sudden the school is handing out free barbecue sandwiches right in the middle of the Bible building, which is where I spend a large portion of my day. And once I get out of there I discover that a box of delicious Good Spread has finally arrived and now it must sit in my room, mocking me. But I know this pride is the very thing that is surfacing so that I can empty myself of it and be filled by the humility of God.
My meditation passage for the day was definitely humbling. Ezekiel 16 goes into detail about how much God is capable of doing with us, but we turn our backs on him for something that is not only unsatisfying, but ugly and destructive – but he restores us anyway. So, today I pray that God removes pride from me so that he may use me to a greater extent and that his light may shine infinitely brighter so that everyone who sees me may know that it’s not me that’s working, but him.
I’m even more grateful that God did use me today. I helped lead a Bible study with some people, Juan & Maria, whom I met recently through Harding’s pizza ministry. For the first time when I was doing a Bible study I really distinctly felt that the Spirit was working in me, giving me the answers that they needed. As I have studied more about both prayer and fasting this week I pray that I begin to think more like God and that these opportunities come more often and that I am also more prepared.
Meditation Scripture: Ezekiel 16
Meditation Song: All I Have is Christ
Tuesday March 26, 2013
In talking about fasting Alan Howell, the missionary I’ll be working under this summer said, “Fasting is not about amassing credit, it is about harnessing cravings.” That is beginning to become more and more applicable. My body has gotten used to the fast now, so I don’t have distinct hunger, but I definitely crave food. My stomach may growl, but I don’t necessarily feel hungry. But just the thought of food heightens temptation for me. Sin works in the same way. There are some sins that once the thought of committing them is planted in our minds, it seems absolutely irresistible. Sometimes it’s like one thought leads me to completely hand over control of myself to some outside force. Just as the scent of food makes me believe that I need it and infinitely more, so the hint of sin is very persuasive and demanding.
But fasting is about harnessing cravings. As I have turned over these cravings to God I have noticed a significant increase in my self-control in all areas. I have been praying that God will harness my cravings and redirect them to crave him more and more, because he is the sustaining bread, the water that quenches thirst for all eternity. He is the only all-satisfying thing that humanity could ever hope to find and he is the only one that will meet our needs and the deepest desires of our hearts successfully. While money, relationships, fame, and food may meet our needs for a moment, one moment in communion with Christ could satisfy a lifetime.
But I still don’t feel that I have completely given this fast over to God. I pray that my time in Scripture and in prayer will increase as the fast progresses and the days get more and more difficult. But the more difficult it becomes to separate from food, the easier it will be to fall into the arms of a nourishing Savior, reminding me that I am completely and utterly dependent upon him and that there is nothing in this world that can provide for me what he can.
Meditation Scripture: John 17
Saturday Morning March 30, 2013
This time 7 days ago is the last time I had anything to eat. Tomorrow I break the fast. It’s strange how not hungry I am. But at the same time, I have gone through intense food cravings for the last few days. One day pizza, one cake, one eggs, & one a Taco Bell chicken quesadilla. But I can understand that I’m not hungry, but rather I just want the food. This has been the general struggle of my fast – not that I have been hungry, but that I have wanted food just for the sake of eating.
For the most part, my fast didn’t have the spiritual impact that I was expecting, probably for a few reasons:
1) I admittedly didn’t spend as much time in prayer & meditation as I should have. While I did do more than usual, which was certainly good for the experience, I wish that I had put a greater focus on Bible study.
2) I put a lot of focus on the physical, and especially toward the end of my fast I let my cravings and pride really eat at me (haha, get it?, “eat?”…I’m too hilarious sometimes.). I know that you’re not really supposed to talk about your fast except on a need to know basis, but I kept discovering people that needed to know when I was invited to things or they were trying to feed me constantly. This was both good & bad. I did want some people to know so that I could be held accountable. However, as a larger number of people began to find out it became more of a pride issue. I did my best to emphasize the benefits of it and truthfully tell them that God had given me a lot of self-control this week and that I wasn’t hungry.
3) I made the mistake of seeking to be spiritual rather than seeking God. In my pre-fast reading I learned that a 3-7 day fast would probably change your life forever. I haven’t found that to be necessarily true. While a great experience and I have certainly learned a lot doing it, I wouldn’t classify it as a life-changer – at least, not yet. The whole time I was seeking this grand spiritual revelation where everything would make sense and I would become a prophet. That didn’t happen. But I did learn something vitally important – sin is just a craving that can be redirected. When I redirected my craving for food toward God, it didn’t always result in Bible study, but it did result in some different cravings. During my fast I was involved in a cross-cultural Bible study, served food at a nursing home, wrote letters to widows, ran errands for others, bought a ton of Easter gifts, and read a lot of Scripture. And once you develop a taste for what you redirected your craving for, you want it again and again and again. Righteousness and sin use the same patterns, but one moves closer to God as the other moves farther away. Once you’re in deep it’s hard to get out.
Saturday Night, March 30, 2013
I had an interesting encounter with food today. I went to a coffee house on campus with my best friend today, and she got some delicious looking cheesecake. I wasn’t really hungry, so it wasn’t a big deal. She didn’t finish it, so she asked if I wanted to put it in a to-go box and eat it later. Why not?
So, I got the box, then picked up the small bit of cheesecake and put it in the box. Unfortunately, this left my fingers covered in chocolate and my soul in quite the predicament. My friend and I laughed hysterically as we sat there wondering if it was sinful to lick the chocolate off my fingers. Who would have ever known what a difficult decision this would be.
I decided to go get a napkin and just remove the temptation, which removed the “temptation,” or whatever you want to call this scenario. While it was probably meaningless given the circumstances, it did make me think about what we perceive as “little sins.” Sometimes we mindlessly sin, but it doesn’t seem to affect anyone and we remain unchanged by our small choices. But these choices, these sins, are what define our relationship with God. The prophets who were deeply connected with God were like a moral nerve and unable to handle any compromise of God’s will, while the Pharisees were far from God, so they were overwhelmed by sin without even knowing it. Sometimes it’s not about avoiding the “big sins,” but rather about making a commitment to honoring God in even the smallest of choices because he is worthy of our complete devotion because he is our complete sustainer.