On Fasting

Fasting seems like a great idea until you feel hungry.

I’ve tried to fast more regularly over the last year or so. Jesus seems to expect it of his followers (Matthew 6:16-18), and I’ve heard many speak of it as a key part of their spiritual journey. And yet, while I’ve always understood fasting to be a spiritual discipline, I’ve tended to see it as lesser in importance than other disciplines. If I don’t devote daily time to Bible reading and prayer, I feel off. If I miss a few days of journaling, I can sometimes detect a shift in my perspective. But fasting? Sometimes fasting doesn’t even cross my mind.

So I followed a buddy’s recommendation and tried to set a time each week to practice this discipline. I placed a reminder on my phone’s calendar so I wouldn’t forget, making a choice to form a habit. And initially, I felt great.

Then I would get hungry. Or I would be invited to grab lunch with someone. Or I’d be given food of some kind. Often, the first challenge to my resolve would result in me eating, in a break of the fast. The plan that seemed so simple in theory became increasingly difficult to fulfill in practice.

Ultimately, this is to be expected. Fasting is a clear denial of the self, a deliberate choice to abstain from food in order to seek the Lord, to lay your requests before him, to abide in Christ. When you fast, you embrace temporary discomfort to press into eternal comfort, experiencing the emptiness of your stomach as you open your hands before the Lord. It’s an act of faith, of hope, and of love. And such acts aren’t always comfortable, nor should we expect them to be. Self-denial, even in small measure, may be deeply felt.

But the discomfort of self-denial teaches us. When I see how quickly I break a fast to be filled with food, I realize how deeply I depend upon what is seen and felt and how little I depend upon him who is not so immediately perceived. My failures in fasting reveal my misplaced priorities. But they also provide opportunities for growth. When I see my weakness, I learn to pray for deeper dependence upon the Lord, deeper faith in his provision, deeper love for him. I learn to seek contentment in Christ rather than in my circumstances. I learn to wait on the Lord rather than seeking the speedy fulfilment of my desires.

I’m still not good at fasting, but I want to develop the habit. I want to see more clearly my dependence on the Lord and better understand his provision. I want to grow in faith and hope and love, denying myself a meal to be more deeply satisfied in the Maker. And I pray the Lord would sanctify me in the process.


Photo by Charles Deluvio on Unsplash

From Bossier to NOLA

nico-bhlr-1056006-unsplash.jpg

Down the forty-nine to ten we travel.
Feasts of kings and cakes, our destination.
Down we go, our worries to unravel.
Food and fellowship, our motivation.
Past the city’s lights and steel magnolias.
Past the airbase and the coliseum.
Past the capital after Angola.
Past the lakes and rivers and museums.
Standing still, undrowned through stormy seasons,
History endures through celebration.
All Louisiana knows her treasure.
So we travel for our varied reasons –
Stories, memories, anticipation –
Seeking carnival in greater measure.


Photo by NICO BHLR on Unsplash

Thanks to Dustin Hadley for providing the topic and title for today’s poem.

Mema

Five dollars may not mean that much to you,

And Lincoln’s face may never make you smile.

Casa Ole may never come in view.

You may think eating trash is not your style.

Your Christmas gift may never have been placed

Inside a colored bag upon the tree.

And you, poor soul, may never know the taste

Of Hello Dollies shared with family.

These memories are blessings to the mind,

And thoughts of them do always warm the heart,

For our Mema and Grandad, always kind,

Have played in all our lives the sweetest part.

With thankfulness these words could never say,

We celebrate our Mema’s life today.

Dat Dog

(Photo cred: Brianna Radcliff)

New Orleans has a special way
Of reaching to my heart
With po-boys, crawfish, etouffe
And clogging every part.
For many things are fried down here,
And many run with grease,
Yet when the dinner bell has rung,
My stomach finds its peace.
But one abode of tasty treats
Stands high above the rest.
It beckons men to empty seats
To taste its tasty best.
O great Dat Dog, you are the joy
Of many near and far.
With gourmet dogs for girl or boy,
You truly set the bar.
So I resign to take the chance
Of gaining weight today,
And enter this delicious dance…
But first, let’s stop and pray.