Sunday, March 19, 2006

I'm back

I took a few days off to fast and pray (Though, I couldn't fast from my kids, so it isn't like I had a lot of time to sit Indian style on the carpet and chant). Anyway, since the most I'd ever fasted in the past was about 24 hours (to the minute) I chose seven days--later to become five for reasons I'll explain later--when Eric would be available to help with the kids and I could take a weekend off.

I fasted because I wanted to experience a closer walk with Christ. But here is what I learned.

Fasting is boring.

Very theologically astute. I know.

I also slept better.

I'm not sure what I thought I'd experience. But before the fast I did have this vision of myself clinging to a wooden cross and my Bible while laying face down in a prone position on the concrete floor in front of the refrigerator moaning a prayer for the supernatural strength and endurance required to refrain from diving head first into the ice cream that beckoned me with the voice of Satan just beyond the freezer door.

I also expected delusions and perhaps a visit or two from an angel.

I thought my need for stamina and will power would drive me to depend more upon God, instead I spent most of the time giddy about the amount of weight I lost in a one week period.

How disappointing.

Perhaps I expected too much after just five days.

In the end I realized that God probably saves the visions for people "further along" than me. Maybe all I can grasp right now is the terribly important lesson that fasting is boring. Because that means--for me anyway--that food must be very entertaining for me. I realized how much of my day revolves around planning and gathering and eating food. Since I didn't want to be grocery shopping or spending lots of time preparing food while I was refraining from it, I'd done as much as I could to prepare ahead of time. So I had lots more free time. Don't get me wrong, God made food to be entertaining, but by fasting I realized that my relationship with food (should I have a relationship with food?) needed some recalibrating. I'd have never thought of myself as idolizing food--I'm average weight--but now, well, I don't know.

But, ironically while I was learning the need to perhaps appreciate food less, I was reminded that it is a wonderful blessing from God. Food gives us the opportunity to gather around the dinner table and share God's bounty with others. While fasting, I missed sitting down to share breakfast and lunch with my kids. I missed eating with my family. Just sitting there watching everyone else eat isn't fun. It's like sitting the bench in basketball. Eric and I didn't invite anyone over for dinner this week and I missed that too.

Despite all that, giving up food wasn't as hard as I thought it would be, and I do credit the Holy Spirit for that. When Jesus says that his yoke easy and his burden is light, well, maybe He--light bulb moment here--really meant that. (In the interest of full disclosure I did drink about 32 oz. Of juice a day.) If I had continued the fast I'd have had to find other things to do, but I wasn't in agony.

As it was, I did start repainting the trim in the kitchen.

At the end of the week Eric called and told me that we may have the "opportunity" to move to Australia for six months or perhaps a year or two. I don't know if this will happen (if it does it he will leave in about two weeks), but this fast helped me to realize that sacrifice is not about sacrifice. It is about faith--more specifically it is about believing that God is sufficient. I mean if God can keep me in a chipper mood after five days without so much as a hard boiled egg he'll be there if we need to sell most of our earthly possessions and move to Melbourne.

The other significant call I got came on Friday. It was from my mom. Granddad is not doing well. And Friday seemed to be a low point. So I left for Conroe to see him. (I'll leave it at that for right now.) In the ICU waiting room, I met my mom, my grandmother, my aunt Jeanine, my aunt Sally, Annie my cousin, and Linda and Dalton--more cousins. Visiting hours were limited and the next one was still a couple of hours away, so we sat in a circle and visited with one another. I can not remember a time, no matter the circumstance, when being with my extended family has not been a joy. In the ICU waiting room Linda offered us her homemade chocolate chip cookies which were almost, almost as good as my mom's. We all passed around the tin canister and at first I declined, but then I realized that fasting is not about living up to some standard or trying to win Christ's favor by not eating for the full seven days. It is a spiritual discipline we can use to make ourselves more available to Christ's leading so that we can act as he would in any given situation. So I decided, without guilt, to have a cookie, and then I had another.

I'm quite sure Christ would have done the same.

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