Fasting

What do you think of when you think of fasting? The first thing that comes to my mind is STARVING! A few years ago I never would have thought I’d ever be able to fast, but as learned more about it and my perception of WHAT it was changed I’ve changed and today I find it an important discipline in my faith journey.

Scripture is FILLED with information about fasting and I’ll get to some of that, but a quick search of the internet brings up this explanation:
fast2
fast/
verb
gerund or present participle: fasting
  1. abstain from all or some kinds of food or drink, especially as a religious observance.
    synonyms: eat nothing, abstain from food, refrain from eating, go without food, go hungry, starve oneself;

    go on a hunger strike;
    crash-diet
    “we must fast and pray”

This is on my mind this week as I fast to prepare for weekend full of worship. Each time I’ve fasted I’ve had different experiences and this week’s journey is what has prompted this post.

A few years ago I never would have attempted fasting. I had put too much time, energy, effort…and money into my recovery from eating disorders that I didn’t want to do anything to jeopardize that. Over the years God has walked with me through the process. I kept things simple to begin with by fasting from just one thing like soda or sugar or something like that. One year I was led to fast from all of the technology that was getting in the way of my relationship with Christ. I work in IT so I only allowed myself to use technology to do my job. I put auto responders on my email/text explaining I was unavailable and would respond the next month and if they really needed to reach me to pick up the phone and call me. Yes, a phone could be considered technology I know, but I had lost touch with those around me so picking up a phone to reconnect with people was allowed. Understand that each time I’ve been led to fast it has been me being obedient to the Holy Spirit’s leading and not my own ideas.

I began to see fasting as a way of connecting through my giving up something sacrificially that may be standing in the way of my relationship with Christ. Sometimes my fasting has led to life changes that once I gave something up I didn’t go back to it. My intention was to become more personally connected to Jesus through the process and it has led to living an overall healthier life in some cases.

I’ve chosen fasting as a way that I physically empty me of me in order that I would be filled up with all that God would have for me. Sometimes it has been a way of confession while other times a way of renewal. Each time it seems to be for a little bit different reason and each time I have a little bit different experience.

As I mentioned at the beginning, it has been this week’s experience that has led me to writing today. Today is day 5, the last day, of a fast I’ve chosen to partake in as a part of an amazing worship event I attend every year. Each year I know that I’m fasting with other sisters in Christ around the area before we come together at the feet of Jesus for powerful worship all weekend. We spend the week emptying ourselves so that we would be filled up with power of the Holy Spirit to go and do the work God would have us do.

Here are the guidelines I followed:

Fast Guidelines:

Each year prior to the event, we spend several days fasting and praying in order to prepare ourselves for Women in Worship. If you would like to join us, you are encouraged and welcomed to do so. This is a progression fast; each day you will remove items from your diet and keep them out until the fast has concluded on the evening of Women in Worship

Be sure to drink plenty of non-chlorinated water the entire week. If you are under physician care or taking medication, please consult with your physician prior to undertaking this fast.

Fast Schedule:
Monday May 18- Friday May 22, 2015

Monday – Remove all processed sugars from your diet, i.e., sodas, candy, snack and junk foods
Tuesday – Remove all red meats, shell fish, crab, shrimp, lobster, cat fish
Wednesday – Remove all meats
Thursday – Remove all breads
Friday – Eat fruits and vegetables only until 3:00 p.m. Fast ends at 3:00 p.m.

What I began to notice right away Tuesday was that I found myself indulging in the things I would be giving up the next day. God and I spent time chatting about this throughout the week as I continued to notice it each day. I don’t remember that being much of an issue in previous times I’ve fasted. It made me think about how I live my life though, indulging in things that may not be good for me along the way. The Holy Spirit has opened my eyes to some of these indulgences through this process that I would turn from those ways and live differently…starting NOW…because I’m no longer blind to them.

Another thing I noticed right now after looking at the guidelines again, as I posted them above, is I didn’t do it EXACTLY like that. Yep, you got it…I messed up. The gift of God’s grace played out right here in front of me. There was a time that my perfectionism would’ve gotten the best of me right here and I would’ve thrown in the towel, not gone to worship, and dug myself into a hole so deep with pity the rest of the night. Today I praise God for ability to notice I messed up and be able to shrug it off knowing that I did it just the way I was supposed to do it for ME, following how I was led to do it, and knowing that my life has been changed because of it. Now I can’t wait to get to worship to see what else it is that God has in store for me today & this weekend!

Yard Work Reminds Me of Walk with Christ

How many of you are lawn or garden people? Then you are going to get this analogy that came to me while mowing my lawn last week.

Our daily walk in The Word & with our Father is much like lawn care. Stay with me here. Just like we fertilize our lawns to help them stay green, grown in thick, & just plain stay healthy we need to be fertilizing our lives with God’s Word. Now when we don’t fertilize our lawns they do not grow weeds right away. It’s the same in our own lives. When we stray away from being in God’s Word daily our lives may not look that much different…right away. It’s after time that we start to notice our yards being overgrown with creeping charlie or dandelions. It’s after time that our hearts become filled with regrets, angers, resentments, etc. None of it happens overnight.

Here’s the cool thing though! Just like we can fix our lawns from weeds, Christ came to fix our lives of sin. We can begin fertilizing our lawns again and with some extra work to remove the weeds that have crept in we can once again have that healthy looking lawn. It’s the same in our own lives. Maybe you’ve strayed from reading God’s Word daily. Maybe you haven’t been in daily conversation with the Lord of your life. All it takes is to pick up The Scriptures and start reading & let God do the rest.

When I’m in God’s Word I make better choices. When I’m in God’s Word I’m able to be disciplined in areas of my life that I can’t be disciplined on my own. Again, when you drive by a house and see green you don’t know if it’s weeds or grass. All you see is green. It looks good. It’s the same in our lives. People around us cross our paths with so much going on in their own lives that they aren’t looking closely at ours. They see the surface. They see our outward appearance. God mows the lawn though. When you actually mow the lawn you see the weeds. God sees our hearts. That’s what really matters. How are your lawns? How are your hearts? While mowing my lawn yesterday I recognized I haven’t spent the money on fertilizer for a couple years now & now my lawn shows it. Again, you can’t see it from the street. My neighbors are constantly complimenting me on how green my lawn is. They are looking at it from across the street though. When I first bought the house I spent a lot of time fertilizing, weeding, & REALLY taking care of the yard. I got to a place though where I had to choose groceries or fertilizer so I hadn’t been fertilizing. It’s the same in my daily walk with God. There are so many things competing for my time that it’s easy to get pulled away from spending time daily in His Word & in conversation with Him. Just as we need to attend to our yards to keep them healthy we need to be attending to our spiritual lives. How many of us are spending the same amount of time & money on our spiritual lives as we are on maintaining our yards?

Too Intellectual?

Bible Study and the conversations during and afterward really made me think this morning. Do I spend too much time trying to change someone or evangelize someone so they may know Christ? Shouldn’t our prayers be “God help me to exude you in such a way that others may see you and come to know you? God help me show only the kind of love you can give in order for hardened hearts to be changed?” God’s in the business of fixing broken hearts. Shouldn’t that be our business then if we are to be growing to be more and more like Him on our Christian walk with Him? When I first walked in the doors of AA I was told that I shouldn’t try to figure it out. The intellectuals don’t make it. Well to that’s a lot like how I need to be living out my faith. Faith is believing in something I can’t see. When I get wrapped up in where something is placed in my space of corporate worship or get hung up on how people are worshiping around me or stuck in the rules or laws of a specific religion or on how things are supposed to be done than I’m trying to hard to figure it all out intellectually. If I were to spend that same amount of energy in getting to know God my Father I’d be a whole lot better off. Mercy isn’t meant for us to figure out. It’s meant for us to have. Grace isn’t meant for us to try to understand. It’s meant for us to receive. When we can stop trying to figure things out & intellectualize everything we can start living like God would have us live. I have to surrender my pride and my plans so the world will see only the Holy Spirit living and working through me. In His time (not mine) others heart others will be softened and yet others will be brought to faith in Jesus Christ that leads to their salvation. I think too many of us attend churches where the pews are filled with people who are hurting so bad, but trying so hard to figure out what it is their neighbor has. I only know this because I used to be the one asking all these questions trying to figure it all out.

God’s Speaking Surrender

Ok, so I was just speaking with someone Tues night about how even in my freedom because of Christ’s death on the cross I still find myself debating with God when He asks something of me. A few weeks ago the Christian radio station I tune in was having their pledge drive. I often feel compelled to give every time they have one, but never have. This time very early on I heard from God that I was supposed to give $100 and as I pushed back at God about how much that was He revealed He meant monthly. I thought that was just out of the question and even told Him so. I crunched numbers and tried to figure out where in my budget I would be able to come up with this amount of money monthly and couldn’t see it. A couple of days went by and each time I turned on the radio I felt God tugging at me or nudging me. I happened to wake up bright and early one morning and heard that day on the radio the request for $100 right through my radio. I could no longer deny God. I logged online to give my one time gift of $100, but through the course of filling out the form came to the money part. The one time gift would come out immediately and wasn’t a pledge. I didn’t have that amount to give right then and wouldn’t have it until the pledge drive was all over. I knew I was supposed to give so I went ahead and pledged the $100 monthly. A peace came over me that He has asked me to do this so He will provide for me to do this. It took 2 days of debating with God. He’d asked me to give before, but He’d never been so clear about how much. In my eventual obedience I was eventually blessed. Within 2 days of my giving I was able to pay off my college loans that I’d been paying on for 12 years and weren’t due to pay off until the fall and I paid off my knee surgery that I had in ’04 which wasn’t scheduled to be paid off until Dec. God is Good!

For the last two weeks a devotion I read has focused on being open in worship and this last week on surrender. I do not find it ironic at all that God is leading me into this as a new season in my life. I required being closed and cold to survive the things God has brought me through in my life, but He is training me to live a new way. Being closed & cold no longer suits me and it keeps me separated from the body of Christ & from God. It’s definitely not easy for me as it is not something I am accustomed to, but because it is of God I am sensing that it is going to be well worth it in the long run. So as I am working on not debating first with God when He asks something of me, I’ve started this blog. Letting people in on what God is working on in my life and not living closed or hidden or secret. What is God working on in your life? Will you join with me on this journey of growing closer to God? I’m looking forward to the days, weeks, months, & years ahead as we head out on this adventure together! I pray you will help keep me accountable to what God is asking of me and allow me to do the same for you. My grandfather always quoted “This is the day the Lord has made. Let us rejoice and be glad in it.” Are you going to rejoice with me on this adventure/journey to complete surrender & openness?