If you watched my latest Facebook Live video for my Six Week Spiritual Growth Journey (you can find it on my Facebook page here), you’ll know that this week the subject was fasting. I admitted freely on video and admit freely here that I hate fasting, mostly because I have a great love for food. However, I think that’s why it’s so important for me to do it. It reminds me that doing the right thing and following God isn’t always all that comfortable.
God Has a Wonderful Plan for Your Life
When I was in high school, I had this idea that if I did my best to follow God, my life would be pretty much perfect. If I didn’t enter into any unwise dating relationships, I would easily find my future husband, have a flawless courtship, and a great marriage. If I had great grades and did well in school, I would get into a great college and find a great job that would pay really well. As long as I was following God’s will for my life, I had this idea that everything would then be hunky dory.
While this view might be common among Christians, it’s not really very biblical. I have a book called God Has a Wonderful Plan for Your Life. The cover shows a painting of Christian martyrs. The point of the book is that we set people up for failure when we make them think that being a Christian is easy and that God will always smooth out your path. As the book points out, the opposite is actually true. People’s lives tend to become more complicated and hard when they start following Jesus.
The Cost of Discipleship
Look at Peter. He was just a fisherman. Sure, his life might have been boring, but I doubt he had to worry about being crucified upside down before he met Jesus. Jesus lifted him from obscurity to fame, or rather infamy. Because of his relationship with Jesus, he was thrown in prison, he was mocked, and eventually he was killed.
That’s why fasting is important. It reminds us that following God comes with a cost. It’s not always comfortable. It’s not always fun. Sometimes it’s really hard and unpleasant. Our bodies and minds naturally resist this truth, but that doesn’t change it. We fast to train our bodies and minds that we don’t always need to be comfortable, fat, and happy. We can continue to live, we can thrive even, while we are uncomfortable, starving, and unhappy.
These Are My Confessions
That doesn’t mean I’m an expert at this. I fasted on Thursday. I did a dinner to dinner because I’m a wimp and that’s the only way I can get myself to do it. I did alright until the late afternoon. It was rainy and gross outside (welcome to fall in Portland). I was getting a little hangry. On my way home from work I somehow managed to get behind slow vehicle after slow vehicle: big trucks, run down RVs, some obnoxious work truck that had yellow flashing lights on the back. My temper was beginning to rise and my patience had run out.
Then I started to think about how silly I was to be mad and upset with these little things. I had just been talking to a friend at work who is from Venezuela. Her family is still over there and they’re unsure what to do. Their country is in turmoil. The government is corrupt and is being challenged by an opposition force that’s really no different. The “normal” people are just stuck in the middle of these two corrupt powers wanting real change. She and her family are struggling with what they think God would have them do in this situation. And here I am, mad because I’ve missed two meals and I’m not moving as quickly as I’d like. It was a nice reality check from God. If I can’t keep a cool head in a situation as small as fasting, how can I ever expect to do the right thing in a situation that actually means something?
I guess the answer is to keep on keeping on. Fasting helps us develop self-discipline. Like any other discipline, it’s not really all that fun, but it’s a good thing and it helps us to be the people that God wants us to be. Just like working out or eating healthy or training for a marathon, it’s not enjoyable, but it allows us to do enjoyable and/or worthwhile things. You only get better at it by doing it, as awful as that is. So I’ll keep on fasting. I don’t ever expect to love it, but I do expect it to train me, body and soul, for whatever God has for me in life, pleasant or not.