March 7, 2009
This week has been an interesting “fast.” I haven’t been so “law-bound” about it as when fasting in the past. Actually I used to fast quite often, even regularly for a time, and it got to a point where I was becoming “obsessed” over every little “failure” (like even being totally guilted for licking a stray bit of peanut butter off my finger when making a sandwich for one of my kids… and every time I fasted the hunger pains came sooner and harder, and I felt sick and dizzy: just mentally craving food even before I could possibly be hungry - literally minutes into the fast!) … so finally I just gave up.
The thing is, I think I was fasting because I “should” and “it’s the way to get God to answer prayer” and so on. This time (after probably a year and a half to two year break at least, maybe longer) the idea to fast again came from a “week of prayer and fasting” announced at “our church” …. I, feeling a bit rebellious!, didn’t pick up the “package” of instructions etc (which is kind of ironic, considering there was a time when I was the one who made up such packages… irk…) … However, I did ask You about it, and You led me to fast TV, Facebook, and sugary foods.
The interesting thing is that You haven’t been laying guilt trips on me for “small failures” … and I’ve even sat down and watched a couple TV programs WITH hubby - really WITH him, not just “parallel” - and enjoyed it! … which made him happy, and helped me realize that even though it isn’t “my” personal favorite way of “relationship,” that if I do it with the aim of relationship and pleasing my husband, it becomes about that, and isn’t, after all, a “waste of time” … and even - eh?!!! - becomes pleasing to YOU! … especially my attitude change, and the improved, closer relationship between hubby and I… which in the past day or two has also led to including YOU more, praying together, sharing our hearts about You, etc… not instantly and hugely, but like a new dawn, with the sun’s rays slowly spreading across the land as it slowly rises over the horizon… I wonder, could this even be part of why hubby is feeling better these days”? Wow! I wouldn’t be surprised!
Of course that would also make sense in that I’m not constantly sneaking to take “Facebook breaks” now, in the limited time we do have together! I did check once (or twice maybe?) the first day, and thought about it the 2nd day… but just realized this is day 6 and I hardly even think of it, even though I am spending a lot of time on the computer (getting so many of the more “urgent” things on my “projects-to-do list” finished up (while hubby is sleeping) - Yay! I think I didn’t realize how incredibly much time was being just twiddled away on Facebook and the little “TV breaks” that just kind of s-t-r-e-t-c-h-e-d out and o-u-t-…..
As for the “sugary foods,” sometimes I do really CRAVE a sugar-high snack… and yesterday I ate a square which hubby brought home from work (one of the aides made and shared them)… probably that was what brought on that incredible “hunger” afterward… oh dear… I ended up ending 3 or 4 chocolate chips as well… and then 2 quite large pieces of dark chocolate… lesson learned, I hope!
All of which was foolish because the previous days I just drank lots of water (which I really need to do anyway) when I get cravings… Anyway, last night hubby and I went grocery shopping… and I realized I am really craving veggies again, which I haven’t for quite some time! So that is a good thing! (And I needed to get veggies for “Sunday Supper Soup” anyway, if I’m really going to do that… Lord? Your will be done! Please make it clear!)
Anyway, I know I’ve been foolish (and even disobedient) a couple time during this fast, and yes, the “guilt” has tried to slip in and grow… but Thank You that I’m coming to realize that it’s really about relationship with You, rather than a “have-to-do” and “have-to-do-perfectly-law-type-thing!” I do want relationship with You! (And maybe You are honoring my weak efforts… seeing as suddenly I am also spending way more time with You here, journaling, after a rather long dry period… And then there is also improved relationship with hubby… and even with my son, I’m thinking!)
The thing is, I haven’t been spending hardly any more “focused/ formal” prayer time with You since I started this “fast.” I mean, You know, “going into my closet and praying” (from a list or whatever; using instructions; going by the “package” ….) for an hour or two non-stop, to “replace the time I would have spent eating/ watching TV/ going on Facebook. Actually, I haven’t been very rule-bound or ritualistic or anthing about it at all! I did once go into my room and kneel by the bed and pray urgently for a couple minutes about a deep concern on my heart, but then I just kind of left it there with You, and through the days since, whenever I think of it again, I just stop where I am and bring it to You again… as I seem to do about most “prayer requests” (and praises!) now.
I have had a few “guilt” moments, or at least moments of “concern” that I’m not “fasting and praying correctly,” but mostly I’ve just been enjoying more continuing, on-going awareness of Your Presence, and consequently, without much real “focus” or “effort” have actually been “praying without ceasing” far more, and enjoying You, learning from You, even beginning to sense far more clearly where Your heart is on various things I’ve been wondering about, and what You want to do through and with me, and even - this is so cool! - sensing Your Presence and action in so many more “little, day-by-day” circumstances, occurrances, even just the weather and people walking by in the alley outside my window, and hearing the birds singing and such!
And I have to say that I am becoming far more aware (it’s “growing on - in! - me”) of the need for my own awareness and involvement in caring for the poor… here and WORLD-WIDE! … and for the incredible need for Your loving justice!
Earlier this week I was reading Isaiah 58 again. Now I am the one, remember, who used to make up “how-to-fast-and-pray” kits… and of course I always referred to this scripture (among others of course). But oddly enough, the emphasis in my “kits” always ended up being rules and regulations… like verse 5: “a day for a man to humble himself… for bowing his head like a reed And for spreading out sackcloth and ashes as a bed”… trying desperately to make my fasting “acceptable… to the Lord” — and yet, what YOU are really saying in this passage is that this is NOT the fast that You choose! It’s actually (verses 6 to 7) “to loosen the bonds of wickedness, To undo the bands of the yoke, And to let the oppressed go free And break every yoke… to divide your bread with the hungry And bring the homeless poor into the house; And not to hide yourself from your own flesh…” and (verse 9) to “remove the yoke from your midst, The pointing of the finger and speaking wickedness” and (verse 10) to “give (furnish) yourself to the hungry And satisfy the desire (soul) of the afflicted” and (verse 13) to “turn your foot from doing your own pleasure on My holy day”….
And then… the results! “8. your light will break out like the dawn, And your recovery will speedily spring forth; And your righteousness will go before you; The glory of the LORD will be your rear guard… 9. Then you will call, and the LORD will answer… “Here I am” [Wow! relationship!] … 10 … your light will rise in darkness… 11. And the LORD will continually guide you… satisfy your desire (soul) in scorched place, And give strength to your bones; And you will be like a watered garden… an [unfailing] spring…. 12… You will raise up the age-old foundations… repairer of the breach… 14 … delight in the LORD… [fed] with the heritage of Jacob…”
Wow!…. hmmm… could this have anything to do with Your church? What would happen if this became our lifestyle, not just our “fasting?” Isn’t that totally New Testament church biblical? …. hmmm… but how can that happen (practically?) if we put all our resources into maintaining our buildings and paid staff and such? I was reading that:
(The Church has had its day…!”
By David Allis Nov 2006)
Our model of church is expensive
o There is huge financial cost in operating organised churches in the western world. Consider the combined factors of weekly income required to operate the church and the capital tied up in church buildings.
o If we choose to view this finance as being used completely to generate growth in God’s kingdom, then the cost of this growth is very high.
o In addition to the financial cost, there is a huge cost of volunteer time in operating the normal organised church – … millions of hours are given to running the church & its programs each year.
o What proportion of a typical church’s time, energy & finance is spent on maintaining ‘church’ for the members? I estimate that it is typically 90-95%.
(end of quote)
…….. maybe we really need to go back to Your Word…yes, no doubt those kinds of changes might be “painful” to us… but maybe the church would be opening the way for Your Spirit to use Your bride to “turn the world upside down once again” …..
Micah 6:8 “He has told you, O man, what is good; And what does the LORD require of you But to do justice, to love kindness (loyalty), And to walk humbly (circumspectly) with your God?”
(And yes, You DO want contriteness of heart… an important part of fasting… and of our walk…. when we focus on “rules” and “methods” don’t we run into the very real danger of our “faith” becoming an outer thing rather than a heart relationship with You and between the members of Your body? ….
Isa 57:15 For thus says the high and exalted One Who lives forever (dwells in eternity!), whose name is Holy, “I dwell on a high and holy place, And also with the contrite and lowly of spirit In order to revive the spirit of the lowly And to revive the heart of the contrite” ….
So…. justice, kindness, humility with God, contriteness… This is the fast YOU choose… this is the LIFE, the relationship to which You call Your body, Your bride, Your church….
Amen! (Thank You!)
Ohhhh…. It’s gray, chilly, windy out the window… and flakes are drifting down… again!