We are at that time of the year when we think about fasting. We tend to look at it negatively, which isn't surprising because fasting involves abstaining from the good things of life like food and drink (and Facebook?). However, if we can change our mindset and look at what we are *getting* rather than what we are *giving up*, we'd be much happier fasters! (Yes, I know there isn't such a word, but there should be!)
So, how do we achieve this paradigm shift? Here are three easy ways.
One, look at fasting, not as the suppression of desire but the pursuit of it. When the devil tempted Jesus in the wilderness to turn stones into bread because he was hungry from fasting, he replied: "Man shall not live on bread alone, but on every word that comes from the mouth of God" (Matthew 4:4). So, it isn't so much that we are giving up bread, but that we are seeking the "bread of life" more! "Listen, listen to me," urges God, "and eat what is good, and you will delight in the richest of fare" (Isaiah 55:2).
Two, look at fasting, not as an act of willpower but an expression of dependency on God. Paul wrote: "When I am weak, then I am strong" (2 Corinthians 12:10). When we are weak, then we are forced to depend on God, and he, in turn, bathes us with his grace and power. And since God, being God, doesn't do anything in half measures, we can count on an abundance of both!
Three, look at fasting, not as a deprivation of our needs but as an aid in fulfilling our destiny. There's a lovely story in the Acts of the Apostles where the disciples were worshiping God. As they worshiped him, the Holy Spirit told them to set Paul and Barnabas apart for the work to which he was calling them. So after the disciples had fasted and prayed, they placed their hands on Paul and Barnabas and sent them off (Acts 13:1-3). Both went on to do great things. Fasting helps us discover and fulfill the will of God and his plans for our lives (keep your ears alert to his voice!).
If you plan on fasting, dear friend — Jesus doesn't expressly command us to do so, but from what he says he assumes that we will (Matthew 6:16-18) — keep these points in mind. And you will have an enriching experience where God feeds you with more than food, pours out an abundance of grace and power, and helps you fulfill your destiny. And, as a bonus, you'll be leaner and fitter as well!
May the Spirit be with you through this season of Lent. God bless you.