Category Archives: The Practice of Fasting

Maybe An Epic Fast Fail Is Really Doing It’s Most Important Work? {What To Do When We Fall Short}

I don’t eat anything at lunch except a pulsed, whirled-together berry and banana juice–nothing added. I speak a couple prayers out loud to God for friends sick and in need. The afternoon stetches out long, and as I’m getting ready to go run, the stomach churns.

I raise my voice at my daughter, exasperated at all that needs to be done and what little time and I can’t even eat anything. My head pounds and I go to the cupboard–medicine? But knowing what the headache craves I head toward the fridge, pull out a yogurt, and leave it sitting on the counter and decide on nothing for the slamming pain.

Maybe fasting is not doing it’s job–it is so obvious to me that I’m not very holy.

Quickly brushing Husband’s lips when he walks in the door, my kiss half lands on air and half lands on him in my great rush. He leans towards me for a hug and I dart in and back out, and dash into the laundry for my shirt.

I cannot be late.

As I run around the house, throwing on tennis shoes, flinging on a hoodie, words snap harsh at Husband and the air weighs heavy. “Love you!” I call, but the words seem to fall dead. I run to the door with a quick, “Bye!”

Then Ivy jumps up off the couch and runs over to me, “Mama!” She lands into me with one of her special hugs, so soft, slowing me down.

I tilt her chin, look into her eyes, and tell her, “Mama is sorry for fussing at you, ok? I’m sorry I got angry. But I need you to obey me, alright?”

She nods, her face full of emotion, and it strikes me that she looks up at me with full submission, her body leaning into me vulnerable, the way I should look to God. “I love you, baby.” I squeeze her again.

I jump in my husband’s red car, and as I pull out the drive and head down the road, then make the right onto the highway, and whir past the brick houses, past the daffodils happily fencing in yards, I feel a little like I’m trying to catch up with myself–a little dizzy.

It’s not until I pull onto the interstate that I realize the need to phone Husband to say I’m sorry.

On his end, it’s obvious in his voice, he is tired, having come home from work, our little ones hanging on him. He says he’s sorry too. But I can feel the weight in his voice, the weight of what I’ve done.

My friend and I run and she talks to me and I tell her I will pray, that I’m by her side. We run in the night and I tell her that I’m not going anywhere, no matter what she decides. In the darkness we hug. I feel like a hypocrite. I yearn to get home to them.

In the dark, I walk up the concrete side-door steps and let out a coming home exhale. Opening the door after a grueling 4 mile run on hilly terrain, the smell of roast and vegetables that I cooked in the crockpot earlier in the afternoon hits my senses full and my stomach lurches, my mouth winces sour.

I know what the articles on running say: always eat protein right away so that the muscles can repair themselves and have full functionality.

But I choose the spiritual benefits–at least for now. I let Husband fix the plates and stay away. He laughs at my pained expression, my determination. He shoos me away so I’m not tempted.

I allow myself an apple and hot tea at bedtime and I still get in bed with stomach aching and body shaky. I lie there thinking I know how I messed up today, not eating any protein, being snappy and yelling at my family.

I ache in so many ways, a hollow ache not just from lack of real sustenance, but this is a different kind of dulling pain–the pang of feeling deeply all I lack, how I create waves of throbbing hurt in the wake of my thrashing.

The deprivation of physical food is glaring at me my need for spiritual food. I didn’t realize I was starving.

I cuddle up to Husband and I tell him I’m sorry I was so awful, that I love him, and he exhales and sleepily says “I love you,” and this calms me. I try to settle my body and go to sleep, but my sugar level does loopy things, the body rattles head to toe, and the mind races and as the clock silently ticks closer and closer to midnight, I finally decide that sleep is more important than anything at this point, {my children need their Mama to get sleep, trust me!}.

In the kitchen, where I give into my flesh and satisfy it, I feel guilty–guilty for needing food so badly.

So, I have failed at fasting–completely and utterly failed.

In the dark, always the dark, I lie there, stomach satisfied and wonder if God can help me, sin-filled me, craving-this world-me.

I ask myself which I crave more, the physical things that satisfy or God.

Ashamedly, I come to Him, face lifted up, submissive, my body wholly leaning into Him vulnerable. I can’t do any of it without You. 

The next morning I wake and have a text from my friend reminding me that she needs prayer. This makes me smile–maybe all is not lost.

Tuned a little more acutely to God now, my heart asks how I can follow Him today, how I can worship best today, serve my family ’til the edges are worn soft, pray for friends and family with sincerity as if it were me going through their trial.

I give all my guilt and shame and failure to Him. He accepts me with open arms, and I fall into His grace, the only thing that rescues.

Maybe, just maybe, the most important work has truly been done.

“Therefore, prepare your minds for action; be self-controlled; set your hope fully on the grace to be given you when Jesus Christ is revealed. As obedient children, do not conform to the evil desires you had when you lived in ignorance. But just as he who called you is holy, so be holy in all you do; for it is written: ‘Be holy, because I am holy.’ Since you call on a Father who judges each man’s work impartially, live your lives as strangers here in reverent fear. For you know that it was not with perishable things such as silver or gold that you were redeemed from the empty way of life handed down to your from the forefathers, but with the precious blood of Christ, a lamb without blemish or defect. ” 1 Peter 1:13-19, emphasis added

“But the gift is not like the trespass. For if the many died by the trespass of the one man, how much more did God’s grace and the gift that came by the grace of the one man, Jesus Christ, overflow to the many! Again, the gift of God is not like the result of the one man’s sin: The judgement followed one sin and brought condemnation, but the gift followed many trespasses and brought justification. For if by the trespass of the one man, death reigned through that one man, how much more will those who receive God’s abundant provision of grace and of the gift of righteousness reign in life through the one man, Jesus Christ.” Romans 5:15-17, emphasis added

A few quotes by Piper on grace and our need to drink in God…

“Grace is the pleasure of God to magnify the worth of God by giving sinners the right and power to delight in God without obscuring the glory of God.”

― John Piper

“If you don’t feel strong desires for the manifestation of the glory of God, it is not because you have drunk deeply and are satisfied. It is because you have nibbled so long at the table of the world. Your soul is stuffed with small things, and there is no room for the great.”

― John Piper, A Hunger For God

“The greatest enemy of hunger for God is not poison but apple pie. It is not the banquet of the wicked that dulls our appetite for heaven, but endless nibbling at the table of the world. It is not the X-rated video, but the prime-time dribble of triviality we drink in every night.”

― John Piper, Hunger for God

 “The only answer in these modern times, as in all other times, is the blood of Christ. When our conscience rises up and condemns us, where will we turn? We turn to Christ. We turn to the suffering and death of Christ—the blood of Christ. This is the only cleansing agent in the universe that can give the conscience relief in life and peace in death.”

 ― John Piper, Passion of Jesus Christ 

Very convicting and nourishing to my soul, friends. What about you? Do you struggle with spiritual disciplines? Have you ever fasted and if so, what was your experience? I’d like to hear your thoughts!
 
 

A song that captivates me, reminds me of God’s love…maybe you need reminding, too?…

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Join me at Ann’s for more reflections on fasting, what it looks like and how it moves us toward God?….

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