09
Mar
12

got fast?

Image

I can’t really say for sure how it happens. I go to a brand new place, surrounded by brand new people, many of whom I have never met before and who know NOTHING about me, but eventually it happens. I somehow get tagged as “Likes to eat” guy. I suspect a conspiracy is afoot.

Or maybe it is just the pure power of observation on the part of the people around me.

Could it be that they notice that whenever a birthday cake is delivered, or the bulletin-stuffing ladies bring donuts, or the ice-cream truck drives within three miles of the church, I bolt immediately to the front of the line with my napkin tucked into my shirt, plate and fork in hand, barely containing the urge to drool?

I don’t know.

But the fact is I DO love to eat. Which is why I am so NOT a fan of fasting. But in the study we are doing for Lent, the primary emphasis of the book we are reading, “A Place at the Table: 40 Days of Solidarity with the Poor” is on fasting as a critical spiritual discipline. The author Chris Seay makes the point that most of us who live in the developed world have no concept at all of scarcity when it comes to food. We almost always have it in abundance and in great variety at our fingertips. As a result, we become completely acclimated to a life in which we are able to gratify just about any urge the instant we feel it… never having to say “No” to a hunger, a thirst, a rumbling, an itch, or a physical yearning.

And then he starts getting a little too familiar when he asks readers to consider what a life of instant gratification might actually be doing to the health of our souls, not to mention the health of our bodies.

And so, both as an invitation to stand in solidarity with the poor of the world (even for a fleeting moment), but also as a way of reminding ourselves of what Jesus said while being tempted in the desert, “[You and I] do not live by bread alone, but by every word that proceeds from the mouth of God,” (Luke 4:4), Chris invites us to fast.

Some folks are doing it… me among them. And I will tell you quite frankly, it is not fun and it is NOT easy. But it is eye-opening. And it does put me, even temporarily, in a place of real vulnerability and weakness. The fast also brings with it a peculiar kind of yieldedness, accompanied by a strident voice that says, “You know… you are not quite as much in charge of things as you might imagine you are, buster.” This then followed very shortly thereafter by a gentler, more compassionate (though just as strong) voice saying something like, “Be still. Be still and know. Be still and know that I am God.”

I am not sure I will ever outrun the “Likes to eat guy” reputation. But my hope and prayer is that I will also add, “Knows that God is God and I am not, guy” label to that as well.


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