Fasting by Pastor Leslie
Scripture: Matthew 6:1-6, 16-18
February 18, 2015

“And when you fast, don’t put on a sad face like the hypocrites.” Mark 6:16

A small study group that I was part of last year during Lent decided to fast for 24 hours.
It sounded great at the time,
kind of like going on a trip out of town (seriously). 

You see I am a nervous traveler,
I constantly worry about a whole host of things when we travel like,
will I be able to use a restroom when I need to
(living in West Texas where stops are few and far between feed into this anxiety),
will I forget to pack my _____ fill in the blank
(I often forget very necessary items) because I am a creature of habit. 
I just count on my things being at home
where I left them
(unless it's my hairbrush that my daughter always uses
but that is a different story).

So when I am at home,
I feel rested and relaxed and feel most like me. 
But I love the idea of travel. 
And once I get into the traveling the anxiety seems to drift away,
but not in the preparation part,
not in the take off part.

Back to the fast. 

It sounded great at the time,
 I flexed my spiritual muscle as the pastor and agreed
(in fact I think I might have suggested it)
and the crazy thing is that everyone went along with it. 
Darn those nay-sayers for not showing up
or speaking up.

So as Thursday turning into Friday
and Friday turned in Saturday
and so on, my anxiety increased. 
The pressure was on.

You see I LOVE FOOD. 
I love eating and I feel like I have been
horribly denied something if meal time is delayed.

At the core of fasting we realize that often times in life
we place something (more like a long list of things)
before God.

I know that
but I wonder to myself
and out loud to my husband,
how am I going to make it through the 24 hours? 
How can I depend that deeply on God?

The fast began at 6 p.m. 
That is when the last blueberry from my dessert went into my mouth. 
At 6:03 p.m. I felt utterly deprived.
And Dan pointed out it has only been three minutes!

(He's not fasting so he isn't allowed to comment.)

Gratefully we had a loft bed to put together for our daughter
and it took all night to do
so I didn't have to sit on the couch
and miss my evening snack of popcorn.

But everyone else was snacking, Harry on cheese,
then a serving of rice and beans
and then popcorn
and Dan on the Skittles he found in his pocket. 
And dear Eva said
"please stop talking about food mom is fasting"
in a sort of way you would speak about someone who has a terminal illness.

The next morning was challenging, gratefully my husband prepared both breakfast and lunch for my kids.

I avoided The Mustard Seed Café which is housed in my church. 
The smell from the restaurant can reach all the way to my office.

I made it through the 24 hours!
The amazing thing was that I wasn’t in a bad mood.
In fact I was surprised at how taking time
to pray helped to keep my spirits up. 
Now don’t get me wrong,
I didn’t go to some spiritual place
where I no longer could feel the pains of hunger. 

I was hungry but I didn’t let it control my mood or outlook on my day. 
It also helped knowing that the other people in my small group
were fasting also.
The season of Lent invites us to take on a spiritual practice
that will help us to stay focused on God. 

It begins today.  Hear the call to return to God. 
Make a change that will deepen your connection with God
and with your faith community.

Prayer:  God we hunger for so many things in our day.  We especially hunger for control, please help me hunger for you instead.  Amen.


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