In my blog post from Sunday, “Is It Time For Elevenses Yet?” I quoted a line that has resonated in my bones this week.
“We fast to reorient ourselves away from the distraction of those things and back toward God.”
Truth time. I have ADHD. Literally everything distracts me. It takes a whole lot for me to sit still and focus for an extended period of time. So the idea of fasting from the things that distract me from God…. well, that list is long and would take more than 40 days. However, I do have the ability to acknowledge the things that deep in my heart I know take my focus away from God, community, and wholeness. I know the things that I use as an intentional distraction to occupy my mind with worldly desires. And I think those are the things that I need to fast from every so often.
Lately I have been in a wilderness period in my life. I talked about it more in my blog post “This Will All Soon Be But A Happy Memory” and I won’t go into great detail about it here, but I am coming to believe and understand that while I feel like I’m wandering around life blindly groping at various opportunities, what I really should be doing is reorienting myself away from all of the distractions.
Lamentations is an odd book in the Old Testament. It makes for a bit of a dramatic sad sack of a book. I mean, the author is lamenting the whole time, hence the name. But these verses in chapter three give me all the hope in the world.
I’ll never forget the trouble, the utter lostness, the taste of ashes, the poison I’ve swallowed. I remember it all—oh, how well I remember— the feeling of hitting the bottom.
But there’s one other thing I remember, and remembering, I keep a grip on hope: God’s loyal love couldn’t have run out, his merciful love couldn’t have dried up. They’re created new every morning. How great your faithfulness! I’m sticking with God (I say it over and over). He’s all I’ve got left.
God proves to be good to the man who passionately waits, to the woman who diligently seeks. It’s a good thing to quietly hope, quietly hope for help from God. It’s a good thing when you’re young to stick it out through the hard times.
When life is heavy and hard to take, go off by yourself. Enter the silence. Bow in prayer. Don’t ask questions: wait for hope to appear. Don’t run from trouble. Take it full-face. The “worst” is never the worst.
Why? Because the Master won’t ever walk out and fail to return. If he works severely, he also works tenderly. His stockpiles of loyal love are immense. He takes no pleasure in making life hard, in throwing roadblocks in the way:
–Lamentations 3:19-33 (MSG)
How do we passionately wait? How do we diligently seek?
We remember God’s faithfulness. We remember that God has always delivered us and will continue to deliver us consistently. In the words of my very favorite band, you have to “hold on to what you believe in the light when the darkness has robbed you of all your sight.
Or, in the words of Albus Dumbledore, “happiness can be found, even in the darkest of times, if one only remembers to turn on the light.”
Instead of blindly groping around in the dark, turn on the light. Wait passionately and seek God diligently. It is much easier to do these things when we are not flooded by distractions that take our focus away from God.
Today I fasted from meat. It was fine. I had a really good salad from Walmart of all places, ate fruit, and had pizza for dinner. I didn’t die. And as I was picking the chicken out of the salad, I remembered that I am doing this not because it probably wasn’t real chicken, but because I am giving up something that I really, really love in order to recenter myself and focus on God’s goodness in my life. It’s good to deny yourself something so that you have more opportunities to take stock of what is truly important and valuable to you.
Tomorrow is my hardest one. No food when the sun is up. Tomorrow I will wake up at 5 and have breakfast. The sun will be rising as I leave my apartment for work. During the day I walk close to 15,000 steps at my outdoor campus. I burn a lot of energy and I generally snack most of the day. After work I’m going to go to the gym and hope I don’t pass out. Then I’m going to come home and study for my teaching certifications and take a shower. Then I’ll get to eat again.
Guys, I might fail this one.
I’m going to give my everything to this tomorrow and try so hard to focus on God’s goodness when I feel hungry, but there is a possibility that I might fail.
And if I do, that’s okay. Because I know that no matter how often or badly I fail at fasting or at life in general, God is only a short reset and reorient away.
Remember to allow yourself to passionately wait and diligently seek tomorrow. Turn on the light and open your eyes and your hearts to the ways God is moving in you and through you as you take on the last day of the week. Be well and be a force of good in this world.