I wanted to share a few things that have come to my mind through the fast this time around. Because of my desire for more focused discipline and consistency I felt God calling me into a longer fast this year. Previously, I fasted because I knew I was supposed to, it was a matter of discipline, a matter of obeying that Jesus said, "When you fast..." It has never been my favorite discipline, and if I'm honest, it is probably my least favorite. Because I'm a comparer I would often see Chad fast with a straight face, focused, and prayerful. My fasts were also prayerful, but also internally whiny, counting down the days, ready for it to be over. When God was asking me to extend my fast, I actually got excited about it because I was going to get to obey what he was asking me to do and not just what I knew was the right thing to do.
The first area of understanding that came to me this week is how fasting really demonstrates what it means to be living as an exile. I mean, think about it. How weird is it to go without food for such a long time, especially in our culture? Several times this week I've looked around at the crowd and thought about what a weirdo I am. I've felt strangely out of place, completely different, but also totally engaged in the conversations with whoever I'm with. To me, this is a beautiful picture of living as an exile. I am a weirdo. I do not belong here. I am set apart because I'm a daughter of God. However, I am totally engaged in the people that God has put in my path. I don't tell them I'm fasting. I don't comment on how different I am. I try to live in such a way that honors God and at the same time, allows him to use me to tell others of his gospel message.
The second area that I've been mulling over is being in the world but not of the world. Just because I'm not eating for awhile doesn't mean that I don't have my hands all up in food everyday. I have four beautiful growing hungry kids that I will not allow to eat junk just because I'm not eating. Pb&J everyday just won't cut it. I probably go overboard in cooking for them because I don't want the enemy to have any way to put bitterness in their hearts because their crazy parents fasted for extended times. I've made all kinds of goodness this week... and it has been so hard, especially today. The smells that linger, wondering if things are seasoned right, one of the kids forgetting and accidentally asking if I want a bite... It is so tempting! That's what the world is everyday! So tempting! "Sure, I'll engage in gossip because everyone around me is gossiping. No problem, I'm totally ok eating three times as much as a should. It tastes good! What's the big deal? We're just trying to spice up our marriage. There has to be a good reason porn is the number one money maker." It is seriously just like we are all in the Garden every single day, tempted to take a bite of this or that because we have our hands all up in the food... just like I have all week long. As I've cooked and cleaned I've had to work to maintain a tremendous amount of focus on Jesus so that I don't allow temptation to turn into to desire that gives birth to sin that gives birth to death.
A third area of contemplation is just how I feel physically. I honestly feel completely and totally empty and hollow. I so want this to be true of me all the time. To be totally empty and hollow of myself and filled to the measure of the fullness of God. Oh, that that would be true of my life! I don't want to forget this feeling of emptiness. I pray that the Spirit of God would remind me of it in the times that I am so stinking full of myself that I've completely forgotten him.
There are so many others things I'm pondering, but I'm just going to share one more. The first few days of the fast I felt awakened, on a high, completely focused and aware. It was exhilarating. I even talked to Chad about how much I was enjoying this year of prayer and fasting compared to previous years. Then last night I hit a wall. I walked Esther around the halls of the High School she'll be attending and I felt like everyone I passed piled another brick in my arms, or on my shoulders, or feet, or head. At one point I just told her that I needed to go home. My stomach was aching. I went to bed thinking that it would subside and today would be better. It hasn't been. It has been such a hard day. There has been very little relief in the hunger. And you know what? I've struggled with focus. The high was gone. I've felt broken, emotional, needy. I'm so nervous because there are a few days left of this fast. I'm afraid it's going to be so difficult. But isn't that just the point? Especially after this week of Second Mile corporate prayer and fasting, as a church we are going to be awakened, on a high, completely focused and aware. It will be wonderful! But we live in Tucson, where 90% of people don't go to church anywhere, where Wicca in recent years has been the fastest growing religion, where people at best are cynical about talking to a follower of Jesus, where in the 500 years of recorded history there has never been a movement of God through this valley. We must persevere when we are tempted to quit. When our bodies and spirits are tired, we have to dig deep to rely on Jesus like we never have before. When we aren't seeing fruit or feel like we've been waiting for so long, we must know that he has great plans to draw people to himself. We must be broken, emotional, needy for depths of God that we've yet to discover.
I'm so thankful that he teaches me deep in my guts. I've asked for heavenly wisdom all week. In no way at all would I say that I've arrived and am now wise, but I can definitely say that he's showing me great and unsearchable things that I did not know.