Fasting has never been something I want to do. I fight it all the way. Why would anyone want to go without if they don’t have to?
I have only fasted a few times in my life. There was the couple of times I joined in with World Vision’s 30 Hour Famine as a youth group volunteer. Or that short stint with fasting for breakfast every Tuesday. Poor planning on my part also meant I was usually grocery shopping on Tuesday mornings. It didn’t take long for the fasting habit to break under those circumstances!
As I contemplated writing an article on fasting, I knew the one question I wanted to answer was What do I hunger for when I choose to go without? This is what I discovered as I started to answer that question in my life…
Sweetness – When I fast from food for a time, I miss the sweet side of life that I usually experience through my taste buds. I am forced to look for the sweetness in other areas of my world. Once I start looking, once I fix my gaze on the search for the good, the positive, the uplifting, and the encouraging things of life, I find they are not so hard to spot after all. The way my husband looks at me across a crowded room, my oldest son’s mischievous smirk when he’s teasing me, my youngest son’s I love you that melts my heart every time, my mum’s voice on the phone when I really need to chat, my sister’s laughter, my dad’s insightful emails, my brother’s amusing blog posts. All of these and more fill my heart to the brim with the sweetness of life.
Fullness – I crave a life that is full of good things, great things, God things. I long to know I am living in His will, I am on the right track, and I am accomplishing at least some of the things He hoped for me when He knit me together in the womb. Am I living out my days with purpose? Vision? Direction? These questions taunt me even on the good days at this point in my life. Looking back just four days ago, I walked across the graduation stage to receive my Bachelor’s degree. This milestone was 21 years in the making. Looking ahead less than two months from now, my fortieth birthday looms in the foreground. Have I lived a life that is full so far? Have I made the most of the opportunities given to me? What about the next forty years? I want them to be full to the max with the things of God.
More – I hunger for more when I go without. More to receive from others, and also more to give to others. I yearn to be given more love, more attention, more relational sustenance, more purpose, more direction, more vision, more assurance that I am exactly where I’m supposed to be, doing exactly what I’m supposed to be doing. On the other hand I also yearn to give more love to others. I rediscover the lack in myself when I fast. There is an emptiness in me, a space that only God can fill with His love for others. I would never be enough to do the things He asks of me, and I would never have enough to accomplish His purposes for the days of my life. Not without Him.
Fasting makes me abundantly aware that I do not like to go without. As I live in the moments of lack I am acutely reminded of all the hungry faces I’ve seen on television, on mission trips, and in magazine articles. When I look in the mirror I know my face is not a hungry face. Yet I do know hunger. I hunger for the sweetness of life, the fullness of life, and I hunger for more. Always I want more.
If only I could point this longing for more in the direction of things that would be worth the striving, the sacrifice, and the pursuit required to obtain them. Then the fasting would be well worth the hunger it takes to set off in the direction of the longings in me for more.