Sunday was the big day. The annual Canvas Fast. Most are already thinking about what they’re going to eat when they get done. Personal suggestion, stock up on ginger ale and sip on some before you eat. Good way to avoid digestive troubles.
It’s fun to have these thoughts, but in a way, I think we’ve already bypassed the most important part of the fast, the fast itself. In a similar way, people who look forward to losing a lot of weight and looking good. This is fine, but the things you learn about yourself and the discipline you pick up in the time between is more important than just the end result because that is what you need to maintain from then forward.
Similar is our fast. We are giving things up in order to give God more of our time. And maybe not just that. Maybe we’re giving things up in sacrifice to show God how serious we are about something and we’re not going to budge until He moves. In things like this, we find out a lot about ourselves. We find out how much we have made ourselves dependent on things that are not God.
For me personally, the fast isn’t horrible until the third week. It’s when the end is in sight and I’m the most tempted to just step off the reservation because I’m so close to the end it “doesn’t really matter”. The first year I did the fast I caught myself making the statement, “I hate my life” because I couldn’t eat what I wanted. I said that, out loud in my car, and then pulled over and had to think about what I had said. Simply eating what I wanted was a source for happiness for me and without it I was not just sad, but was in fact miserable. How petty is that. It was the truth. The second year was better, but again, by the end I was ready to get back to normal. This year I’m actually excited going into the fast. I got things that will only change if God allows and I’m ready.
The fast itself always reminds me of a Jewish Midrash (a story that explains things in the Bible more clearly) in which Abram goes into his father’s altar room and smashes all his idols but one with a hammer and then places it next to the remaining one. When his father comes in the next day, he freaks out and asks what happened. Abram walks in and says, “It’s obvious.” To which his father replies, “That’s not possible. I made them with my own hands”. Abram then says to his father, “Why then do you worship them?” I bring up this story because we all have that room full of idols that we probably don’t think of as idols. The 30+ hours a week you spend playing on Facebook or watching television or playing video games. The thousands of text messages we send back and forth between friends and family who we don’t spend actual time with. The list goes on. We all have that room. The time and prayers of the fast get to be the hammer with which we use to bust up those idols. Sure, we’ll probably end up rebuilding them after enough time, but during the fast, we are truly free. No shackles, no leashes, no bonds. Just free to give God what he actually deserves rather than the scraps we possibly give Him.
So to all taking part in the fast, swing that hammer hard. This might be the year that when the fast is over, you might not rebuild those idols or maybe only a few. Maybe we should take this chance to not just live without something and fill the gap with God, but to instead find the one thing we can live without and just live without it. Even if it’s just the one thing, then you have made tremendous progress.
Good luck with your fast and I pray God grows you and teaches you many things about Him and yourself.