My mouth was literally gaping open as my friend Rhonda began to share her recent spiritual journey. “I fasted for 21 days. Trust me, don’t be impressed,” she humbly exclaimed while encouraging a group of us who absolutely adore her. I felt like a spiritual loser.
Why have I never pursued the spiritual discipline of fasting? I’ve heard others speak of it as their “life-line” to spiritual growth. Can I really not give up food for even a couple of hours to be closer to God? I have faced insurmountable crises in my life, yet fasting has not been my method of choice in walking through difficult times. Funny thing is, I actually taught a ladies’ Bible study session on fasting, which demonstrates that I have all the head knowledge, just no practical experience.
Well… completely drenched in conviction after Rhonda shared her fasting story and subsequent victories, I made the decision to start fasting. This is going to sound pitiful, but my first commitment was to not eat until 10:30… a.m. that is. I know, I know… most of you do that without labeling it a fast. For me, it was that initial step of giving God my attention, choosing Him over my favorite breakfast foods. The next week, I set 11:00 (still a.m.) as my goal, followed by noon the next week.
God was nudging me along, ministering to me in my baby steps of faith. My heightened sensitivity of His presence was an amazing thing. On my fasting days (okay… partial days) I would be very teary-eyed with an awareness of God’s deep love for me. Singing my prayers to Him, I knew God was near and probably smiling (possibly trying to stifle a laugh) at my new effort to be closer to Him.
James 4:8 “Draw near to God and He will draw near to you.” After several weeks, I began thoroughly anticipating the day I would fast, adding the extra half hour. My hunger for God was increasing. I must confess that I am not a “fasting purist” – whatever that means. Coffee, diet coke, chocolate milk – all are “legal” in my new venture. When I shared this with a couple of friends, they reprimanded me, temporarily snatching the joy from my victory. However, one quick call to Rhonda and I was up and running again. She released me, saying, “Hey, if it can fit through a straw, you’re fine. It’s between you and God.”
So… currently I am up to 6:00 (p.m. that is)! My baby steps have been wonderful, hard, awesome, trying… all of it. BUT, they have slowly and steadily brought me closer to Jesus, which is where I long to be. In the words of my profound friend, “Don’t be impressed.” While it’s not 21 days, it’s getting awfully close to 21 hours. Okay… Be Impressed!!