Something interesting has happened on Day Four of my fast. There’s a serenity in my spirit that this was the right thing to do.
Sometimes you can feel like a spiritual flake when you come up with a course of action that involves self-imposed deprivation. Deprivation usually only happens in crisis. I’m volunteering myself into crisis. But there is an urgency to this prayer and I know I’m being heard. I have no answers, but I have The Calm. The Calm is as good as any answer will be.
Know what else has happened on Day Four? Prayer has become a first reaction. Kids fighting? Pray. Grumpy today? Pray. Love the sunshine? Pray. Someone irritating you? Pray. Watering the plants? Pray. Stressed out? Pray. Driving to the corner store? Pray. Going to a rock concert? Pray. Posting on Facebook? Pray. I find myself naturally moving into prayer with the Father about absolutely everything. Be warned: if you call me up right now, I will pray with you.
And then there’s the flip side, the other stuff the enemy tries to sneak in on Day Four. There are the “rules” of the fast and how I might manipulate them to my advantage. You see, Satan targets the rules instead of the spirit of the rules. He loves legalism because he knows it will either make us judgmental toward others who are not doing it our way… or he’ll get to call us a failure when we break them.
First of all, I felt like it might have been a mistake to tell the world about my fast on my blog. And by “the world,” I mean the five faithful readers, including Mom and Dad… and I’ll find out after this post if they’re faithful. But I have made this public and have this tension about it, that this should have been a secret between me and God. That’s because of this verse:
But when you fast, put oil on your head and wash your face, so that it will not be obvious to others that you are fasting, but only to your Father, who is unseen; and your Father, who sees what is done in secret, will reward you. (Matt. 6:17-18)
If you read the verse in context, it reveals the sinful spirit of wanting recognition from other people, not God. Please know that I am not doing this to receive either sympathy nor to be placed on a spiritual pedestal. My search may help your search and vice versa. I’ve already received some encouraging comments from friends and strangers who feel like this lines up with where they’re at. If we can have some transparency about why and how we fall on our knees before our Father and take our fears and doubts to him, that is a good thing.
I also fall prey to this game of justifying my way through the parameters I’ve set up for myself, which is completely ridiculous. In this case, it’s not enough to say no eating after 2 p.m. What about my conduct the whole day before 2 p.m. and what about in the evening after supper’s been served? I’ve found ways to bend the rules I set for myself which – I KNOW! – makes no sense.
For example, I eat more than I normally would before 2 p.m. Breakfast and lunch have second servings and snacks in between. This feasting and depriving each day becomes a roller-coaster ride. Snack therapy never will be effective and the cost of it must be comparable to a real counsellor (and it’s a good thing J-M said no to the book expense at this point). Plus, I have no scientific evidence to back this up, but I believe it makes me hungrier at night. Expand and contract, expand, contract. It’s the best work out I’ve had in a while, with little results.
Also, last night, when J-M made a yummy dinner, I ask him to save me some for lunch for the today, of which I had two helpings. I’m not kidding.
There’s this other thing. When I’m too hungry, I want to make it go away by going to bed early. This becomes the grey area of the fast. These hunger pangs, are they not to trigger me to prayer? This rumbling stomach, does it not to reveal my great need for God? Is 6 p.m. not a reasonable time to hit the hay?
I believe much of this minutiae gets sorted out simply by keeping on. There’s something about getting in the groove of it, which will, of its own accord, figure out what is working (or not) and maintain the goal of walking closely with God.
In the meantime, I embrace The Calm.