By Debbie Lee
Hello! I’m here to tell you about my experience with fasting. I hate it. The end.
Hahahaha just kidding.
Fasting is a peculiar experience. I usually start off my fast with a bit of trepidation because I don’t like the idea of going without. My mind recognizes that there is going to be some form of withdrawal and a lot of discomfort and that I need to make a whole lot of effort to exercise my will against my will. So initially I’m scared of the days to come. But once I begin my fast something interesting happens.
Fasting isn’t so interesting at first. It sucks. The 3-5 days or so I experience a lot of tension. My physical body resists the change introduced by fasting. I remember vividly when I refrained from watching any kind of media for 21 days; it literally felt like I was dying. When I cut out caffeine one time, I itched like an addict. But it’s in this tension that you start to realize something: I fill myself with _____. And in that realization I think of how often I try to fill a heart longing with a physical answer. Perhaps that cupcake, that escape from reality, that coffee is not the answer to my anxiety, my boredom, my exhaustion.
As I start to realize what I fill my time, my body, my mind with, and replace it with prayer and God’s Word, the interesting begins to happen. My body is amazingly fine without that third meal. My mind is refreshed, clear,and alert without that tv show. My loneliness is not my realest perspective. I encounter the power of God’s Word. I experience the strength that comes when my spirit is first attended to. And I’m blown away by how close this invisible God actually is. That to silence my physical “eyes” allows me to see with my spiritual “eyes.”
This is what sets fasting apart from merely exercising self-control in forms of dieting/cleansing/etc. I’m not fasting to “get something out of it.” Rather, fasting is a physical reminder of our spiritual existence. When we intentionally choose to cut something out of our lives (mostly food, but always in the Spirit’s leading) it highlights the hunger (or sometimes starvation) of our spiritual reality. In the absence of what makes me physically strong, I admit and submit my weakness and invite God to fill my spirit in ways that mysteriously strengthens my body, mind, and spirit. I begin to understand how true Jesus’ words are: Man shall not live on bread alone, but on every word that comes from the mouth of God.
So I hate fasting but I love it. It’s a spiritual discipline (which I need to grow in) that draws us to God and helps us become aware of our deep need for Him. It’s an intimate time, a time where you learn to trust God in new ways. This is what I hope and pray for you all as we journey this season together!
Jesus, thank you for how fasting opens our eyes to how real you are. I ask for a wonderful encounter with You as we go without to make more room for your presence in our lives. Help us to understand who you are more clearly and teach us to trust you increasingly. Empower us with your Spirit! Amen.