We set out to follow a spiritual discipline with high hopes. Along with the Lent discipline of blogging, I periodically 'indulge' my spirit in other formation exercises. One of them is fasting. Jesus told us to fast in secret, to dress normally, to keep the deprivation between God and us. That said, confidentiality is the hardest part of fasting for me. It's not that I care if anyone knows I'm not eating. The big thing is that I'm out of sorts, crabby towards everyone who walks by.
Downstairs, the finches are fighting in their cage. They're flapping from one of the cage to another, swooping up and down, chasing each other from branch to branch. They sound a lot like my stomach feels during a fast. A constant internal ruckus prevails. ("I'm hungry! How much longer? Is this doing any good?") Discomfort is exacerbated by all the food in the kitchen cupboards, a plethora of picture cookbooks, and ads for food on radio and TV.
Fasting reminds us to be grateful for the food God provides. Not to take the blessings on provision for granted. To pray and plead to God for provision for those who have less, or who have nothing at all. (25,000 children die of starvation daily, according to UN statistics.)
Any discipline must cost something. Fasting requires a hard "NO!" to the temptations of food and -- most of all for me -- tea. When the time is past, I am so thankful to eat and say good-bye to the day or days. I don't know how well I learn my lessons or how formed my character is by such abstinence. Disciplines are putting on, and taking off.
Even as the little birds remind me, God takes care of us all and watches over us. He is in charge of calling us to partner with him in easy and difficult things, to form us into the image of his son. Soul hunger can only be satisfied by him.
*A man without self-control is like a city broken into and left without walls. Proverbs 25:28
*Listen, O heavens! Pay attention, earth! This is what the LORD says: "The children I raised and cared for have rebelled against me. Even an ox knows its owner, and a donkey recognizes its master's care—but Israel doesn't know its master." Isaiah 1:2–3 NLT
*For it is God who works in you, both to will and to work for his good pleasure. Philippians 2:13