Our church began a special, 21 Day Challenge two weeks ago. In our first week, we committed to read Ephesians books 1 through 6 — one chapter each day. In the second week, we committed to 15 minutes of prayer, daily at a specific time of day. In the third week, we’ve committed to fast.
What to fast?
This is where the rubber hits the road. We know that when we choose to fast we can do so for breakthrough. This is often helpful in a time uncertainty, when we need to hear God’s voice more clearly. Of course, it’s not always necessary to fast from food, but sometimes to give up something that might hinder our walk or interferes with our time with Him. Most important, is your frame of mind.
This is a particularly stressful work week for me. I want to be sure I choose something that will help me to achieve the goal of this fast and not eating might not be the way to go for me. So what is the goal? To grow closer to God, right? Yes. And a little more.
Yesterday, Pastor brought out something in fasting that I can’t recall hearing before. I am not fasting to make myself heard. No, so much more.
Look at Isaiah 58:3-12 NLT
God wants this sacrifice in the right frame of mind. Not to be downtrodden and morose. But to use this time of fasting to give, openly and graciously. And when we do, when we give up to give, look at what God promises us!
‘We have fasted before you!’ they say.
‘Why aren’t you impressed?
We have been very hard on ourselves,
and you don’t even notice it!’
“I will tell you why!” I respond.
“It’s because you are fasting to please yourselves.
Even while you fast,
you keep oppressing your workers.
4 What good is fasting
when you keep on fighting and quarreling?
This kind of fasting
will never get you anywhere with me.
5 You humble yourselves
by going through the motions of penance,
bowing your heads
like reeds bending in the wind.
You dress in burlap
and cover yourselves with ashes.
Is this what you call fasting?
Do you really think this will please the Lord?
6 “No, this is the kind of fasting I want:
Free those who are wrongly imprisoned;
lighten the burden of those who work for you.
Let the oppressed go free,
and remove the chains that bind people.
7 Share your food with the hungry,
and give shelter to the homeless.
Give clothes to those who need them,
and do not hide from relatives who need your help.
8 “Then your salvation will come like the dawn,
and your wounds will quickly heal.
Your godliness will lead you forward,
and the glory of the Lord will protect you from behind.
9 Then when you call, the Lord will answer.
‘Yes, I am here,’ he will quickly reply.
“Remove the heavy yoke of oppression.
Stop pointing your finger and spreading vicious rumors!
10 Feed the hungry,
and help those in trouble.
Then your light will shine out from the darkness,
and the darkness around you will be as bright as noon.
11 The Lord will guide you continually,
giving you water when you are dry
and restoring your strength.
You will be like a well-watered garden,
like an ever-flowing spring.
12 Some of you will rebuild the deserted ruins of your cities.
Then you will be known as a rebuilder of walls
and a restorer of homes.
Isaiah 58:3-12 NLT
So long, Facebook
Of course, I want a piece of that and I know exactly what I need to give up. Over the last few weeks, I find myself unable to sleep, my thoughts racing. I grab my phone and… scan Facebook. Yep. Not my Bible app. Not my church app. Facebook. Sometimes, I’ll close my phone and think… well that’s (insert unreasonable amount of time here) hours I’ll never get back. It doesn’t change me. It certainly doesn’t improve me. I’m running down rabbit holes seeking workout secrets of the stars, which leads me to unrecognizable 80s child-actors, and you won’t believe who is wearing this bathing suit. Nothing edifying. Nothing encouraging. And frankly, it leaves me feeling like I need to reevaluate my choices.
So I logged out of Facebook last night. I didn’t make a production out of it. There was no grand announcement… see you all in a week when I’m a brand-new, better-than-you Christian. I didn’t tell anyone but my husband (because I don’t want him to think I’m ignoring him when he tags me in those adorable puppy videos or who-loves-you-most Facebook quizzes.) I guess that leaves him, the one person who reads my blog, and God! I doubt any of my lovely Facebook friends will even notice I’m gone. Seriously.
So here I am. Day one.
I tapped on my phone app twice, because I forgot. But scanned my phone’s home pages, sliding them back and forth many more times, trying to figure out what I could do instead. I forgot to sign out on my Kindle, so there was that too. Ugh.
I’ve given birth to two children. I held my father’s hand as he passed from this world to our Heavenly Home. I graduated college. I’ve received several phone calls in the middle of the night that changed my life. My point is, I’ve done many things in my 40-something years that were more difficult than this week. This isn’t a big deal.
What I hope will be the big deal, is the blessing. I believe my heart is in the right place. I will seek Him earnestly. I will seek to give more and do more for others. And I not because I hope to be blessed. But because the blessing will come in how I will change. And no mind-numbing, social media, shuffling can do that. Only God.