Fasting

Four years ago, I lost a lot of weight. Our family was vacationing in northern Wisconsin and I brought several books to read; one was on fasting. We love Wisconsin even though it is a twenty-hour, two day drive each way. When we arrive we give ourselves permission to “unplug.” No TV, little news and really poor cell service all combine to set us apart from the rest of the world for a bit. The north woods lake, underpowered fishing boats, a lodge with mounted fish, bobcats, beavers and moose heads create a “simpler time gone past.” It is a true vacation.

The practice of fasting has been around for thousands of years. It helps treat people who have been exposed to high levels of toxic materials and has also been seen historically as beneficial for a preventative measure. I was able to approach my fasting as a voluntary detox. I started gently by cutting out junk. Beyond that there was no big plan, I just started drinking a lot of water, feeding my flesh with healthy stuff and not declaring my chosen journey to many; I didn’t want the pressure from everyone asking How’s it going?

It occurred to me while I was on that vacation that I was also allowing myself a “media” fast, too. Absent the electronic stimulation, my systems were able to rest, generating healing for a weary cynical mind and restoring balance. Not having to digest all the junk that the world throws at me every day I could drink pure family intimacy and rest and breathe a certain “clean air.” I journeyed into a deliberate process that rejuvenated me. It was not as traumatic as I had expected.

Breaking my fast was wonderful. I started out eating smaller amounts than before. (Four years later, we still use smaller plates at dinner than we used to and they hold plenty.) I was more conscious of what I ate; a bit more deliberate. I tried to limit some of what I allowed into my life through my digital arteries. I was aware, and the awareness was a significant part of my experience.

This past January I wrote a blog called A Lot. In it, I offered my deliberate approach to “fasting” from the Bible. That too had a gentle beginning, starting with less reading of a well-worn copy of the devotional My Utmost For His Highest. My most often used Bible went from the shelf near my chair to under the side table with all the newspaper clippings that seemed so important when I tore them out. Still near me, yet outside my immediate focus. It was like I unconsciously realized that I’d been exposed to high levels of cultural toxicity in the Bible Belt and needed a rest from it as a preventive measure for my inner man. My weary cynical mind had hit a wall. This fasting from too much Christian media allowed me to see and hear God differently. I was able to find Him in His first Bible – Creation.

At GracePointe, we have a wonderful pastor / teacher that is presenting renewal in a fresh way this Lenten season through the Beatitudes.  I am hearing with clean ears. I have lost some weight, or at least some burden. My choice has also changed the “eating” habits for my family, an unintended benefit. I hold scripture differently. I value it more highly now than ever, and it still tastes good.

And I have moved my Bible from under my reading table. I have wiped away the dust; it looks different to me. The history of my written comments, notes and scribbles represent my journey and I am still finding comfort in them. Some of what was written now seems so simple and innocent. I’m re-reading the doubts and questions. It all represents the whole of my faith travels. In seeing them afresh, I have purposed myself to embrace them and not set them aside just because I stand in a new place.

Renewal is what we are called to this Easter season. My fasting allowed for renewal. There is now a new form of resurrection this spring. I can breathe, I am less toxic – and I read. I am revisiting the Beatitudes as our teacher is. The words are fresh! Happy is the man…indeed.

 

 

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