An Unusual “Fast” at an Unusual Time!
Lent is, traditionally speaking, the season of the church calendar year during which many Christians fast.
While I often fast during the Lenten season, it’s rare that I commit to a fast during the season of Easter. In fact, I love the rhythm of the church calendar: we fast during the 40 days of Lent and then Feast for 50 days during Easter season. The feast is always longer than the fast.
Yes, I love that.
A few weeks ago, during the middle of the Lenten season, I sensed the Lord inviting me to launch a new fast on Easter Sunday. A fast to carry me through the fifty days of Easter season.
After much prayer and reflection, I decided that I would begin this new fast.
And, after a week of this new fast, I realize that it’s going to be harder than I thought and it’s more important than I initially suspected.
Fasting: Revealing What I Love
Because for this Easter-Season fast I am giving up two cherished human (and American) experiences:
- Convenience, and
Yes, those are the two experiences I am trying to surrender and failing miserably at doing so!
Before I get much further, let me give you a personal working definition of what it means to fast.
To fast: to surrender something that usually brings satisfaction, delight, joy, or sustenance.
In other words, when I fast I am choosing to give up food, coffee, cake, or something that I usually love and then – when the hunger inside me stirs – I turn toward the Lord and His Word to find the satisfaction I received from the thing I’ve surrendered.
I fast from something that brings me partial satisfaction so that I can make room in my life to Feast on the Lord and the joy He – and He alone – provides.
Back to my convenience and expediency fast.
A Pathway Toward Patience!
The idea: to relinquish the need to get everything my way, right away and choose the harder, longer, more energy required path.
Below are some things I am trying to surrender or deny myself to experience this type of fasting or deprivation. I am also including word or two about how I’ve done in week one:
- I’m trying not order anything online but try to find it locally or do without it. Abysmal failure.
- Rather than texting folks, I am trying to pick up the phone and make a call, hear a voice, speak words of good into them. Eh, pretty poor showing here as well.
- Refuse to get in the “Ten item or less” aisle and even find the longest aisle possible and wait in that line (which pretty much means I will not go to Walmart at all). Yeah, just couldn’t pull the trigger on that one.
- No more pay-at-the-pump, swipe-and-go gasoline fill-up. Instead, go inside, stand in line, and say hello to the cashier. Did that once. Wasn’t so bad.
- Remove all social-media apps from my phone. This one is pretty easy for me.
- Use cash before I whip out my debit card. Yeah, right.
That’s a brief sampling of some ideas. I am sure many; many more will come to me as I walk this path.
Examen as a Rhythm of Confessional Grace
Early on Friday morning, as I sat with the Lord and mediated on His Words in Psalm 46, I did a quick Examen or review of my week. In so doing, I was struck by how hooked I am to both convenience and expediency and how difficult it is to offer them up to the Lord and pursue inconvenience and patient resolve.
I was humbled by my failures. I recall one incident in which I so severely betrayed my fast that I tried to avoid some folks I saw in a store because I was in a hurry to get out.
Here is what I am learning about why I am fasting these two particularly deceitful idols.
If an essential part of being created in the image of God is the ability and joy of connecting in profoundly relational and communal ways, then convenience and expediency are detrimental to living in His image.
Fasting Helps Me Honor the Image of God in Others
Indeed, these two regular rhythms of life are dehumanizing in genuine, powerful, but unseen ways. For example, when either is threatened, I tend to demean the circumstance and people who are threatening them. As such, I am failing to live in and see the image of God in others.
In some ways, I am beginning to see both convenience and expediency there own form of imprisonment. When I live by them as the standard in which I interact with the world, then I lock myself up and away from the genuine life-giving experience of waiting on others and preferring them over myself.
Also, I find that my reliance on both of these leads me to question the goodness of God when I don’t experience convenience or expediency. That’s a more significant issue that requires far more than one blog, but it’s one I’ve become aware of in the short amount of time I’ve been failing at this fast.
So, I will keep on trying to fast and, perhaps, share both my successes and failures with you. If you want to join me in this, why not print this blog and sit down and read it with a cup of coffee rather than skim it on your way to something else?
Disrupting to Renew!