Tuesday, December 8, 2009

How Fast Are You?

I shouldn't tell you that I just ate a couple delicious chocolate chip cookies that just came out of the oven. Yep, there is nothing like a warm toll house cookie. Better yet, there is nothing like a cookie that is created by the hand and heart of your wife. It is enough to convince an Amish man to bet on a spotted horse.

Actually, this thought is not related to cookies at all...well, in way... but I am really thinking about the Tuesday 6:30 AM team. We had a discussion today about what it means to fast.

It is a strange word, fast. It can mean moving really quickly, loose moral behavior, or holding something very tight. But in this context it describes a spiritual discipline of intentionally abstaining from some or all food (or some other behavior or desire) for a period of time.

The question is, why? The answer is , why not?

Richard Foster (Celebration of Discipline fame) talks about fasting as an inner and personal discipline. It is not like public worship where we gather to be filled. It is not like service that touches the lives of the poor. It is interior, quiet, and often unknown to everyone but the person who counts the most.

But, why?

Well, why do we pray? Why do we give? Why do we study the Bible? Why do we... Do we do it so someone (maybe God) will notice and we will earn an "A" in Spiritual Discipline 101? Or do we do it so no one (but God) will know...do we do it so we will know God better?

Jesus did it. He didn't command it...he just said "when you fast..." as though it was a common activity not a forced march. He fasted in the wilderness and came out victorious. He knew the Father better, deeper, more completely, and he was now prepared to enter into the fullness of ministry that would lead him to Calvary. Ultimately the answer to the 'why' question is "because" ... Because we want to know God better, deeper and more completely. Our willingness to set something aside helps us focus our attention on God and on the call that rests on each of our lives.

Start small but take the first step. Make an intentional decision to discipline your life around a brief fast. Don't tell anyone. Just do it. Use the time to pray. Allow each reminder of inner hunger to remind you of God and the task that stands before us all. It is a task to love...love the Lord your God with all your heart, all your soul, and all your strength (add stomach!) and your neighbor as yourself.

Why do you pray? Because we believe God listens. Why do we worship? Because be want to offer ourselves to God. Why do we fast? Because we want to offer ourselves to the world.

No more toll house for today!

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