This holy week I wanted to do something to think more about Jesus. I wanted to be intentional about concentrating on Christ’s suffering, death, resurrection, things I believe in profoundly, but rarely meditate on. After praying about it I decided to do the one spiritual discipline I’ve done the least, hated the most and struggled is fanatical, outdated and ascetic.
I fasted and it was amazing.
Why was it amazing to have a kickin’ headache, think only about food (and barely about Jesus) and forgo eating when I didn’t have to (I gain no eternal reward by not eating Pirate’s Booty.)?
Because this was the first time I’ve fasted since almost renouncing my faith.
In the past, I’ve tried fasting for various reasons. I’ve wanted an answer, confirmation or I’ve succumbed to the peer pressure of a corporate fast. I’ve fasted knowing Jesus fasted, said we should fast and to get something from a God who was worthy of fasting for…and punitive and demanding.
Prior to last year I struggled immensely with faith in a benevolentGod. I wrestled for five years with doubt and apathy until almost walking away from Christianity last year (see blog, Losing My Religion). Those very challenging and difficult to articulate years however, led me to a place where my faith in Christ finally moved from my brain deeply into my heart and I knew(not just mentally ascribed to) God’s crazy, non-sensical, passionate, unconditional love for me. I finally believed at the core of who I was God is on my side, period. Not on my side because I’m in seminary, teach women about the Bible or fasted (unsuccessfully) four or five times, but on my side when and because I swear, yell at my kids, eat Oreos and deplore and defame people who don’t use their directionals.
How did I go from hating fasting to saying it’s awesome? When you know God’s on your side and calls you to do things not because you have to, but because He has something for you – it changes everything. It turned my usual complaining into gratitude. It made me want to learn more about fasting instead of trying to find loopholes so I could eat. Yes, the first days of eating less to prepare for today’s full fast came with it’s challenges (the headache, the desire to claw people’s eyes out, etc.), but I can say what I’ve never said before about fasting.
I look forward to doing it again.
Lauren Winner, who converted from Judaism to Christianity writes in her book, Mudhouse Sabbath, “…I can begin to see that Jesus expects us to fast not because He is arbitrary or capricious or cruel, but because fasting does good work on both our bodies and our souls.” What has fasting this week taught me? When your heart knows you are completely known, fully loved and God is on your side it changes you, body and soul.
#goodfriday #wrecklesslove #thecross