I’ve never been one to observe Lent. My mother tried to raise me Catholic — it didn’t stick. I’ve got friends that are Orthodox (Eastern and Greek, respectively), but for as much as I agree with them on doctrinal issues, I disagree — starkly at times — on application (read “ritual/traditional”) issues. My wife and I now attend a Methodist church, but we’re no more Methodists than we were Baptists. No matter how much I grow in Christ, I’ve only gotten MORE sure of my stance against denomination — that divide that unnecessarily divides the Body of Christ — more sure that form and formula is of little consequence to God. He’s interested in your HEART and how you LIVE your walk with Him, not which church you attend or what name you call yourself by or whether you sprinkle, pour, or dunk.
So, imagine my surprise, when He moves me (and Mary, btw) to observe Lent this year!
After reviewing my wife’s blog on the subject, I see that she’s already stolen my disclaimer, but for those who don’t follow her blog, I’m gonna restate it in Jeremy-ese. While I never observed Lent growing up, I’ve always been acquainted with the power of fasting — not “no food” fasting per se, but true, honest-to-God denial of one’s “wants” for the sake of growing more desirous of God in those areas. Sure, that area may be food for some, but for others it may be TV, or radio, or certain types of conversation. The object of a fast can be ANYTHING that holds importance to you, anything that might take up such a space in your life that its absence would be unavoidably missed. It is this thing (or things) that you fast from, removing them from your life for a time and intentionally REPLACING it with Christ.
That’s the important part. Unless you insert Christ into that void, a fast is just “starvation” from that object, and you looking forward to the time when you can be reunited. Without Christ, the object of the fast STILL REMAINS YOUR FOCUS, so the denial of that thing does nothing to SEPARATE you from it, and does nothing to draw you nearer to Christ in spite of it.
All that to say, yes — I know well the power of fasting. Yes, I’ve done it on occasion. But no, I don’t do it “because it’s Lent”, or whatever other spot on the calendar that a fast might occupy. See, I fast for my relationship with Christ, NOT because “it’s that time of year”.
That said, I haven’t fasted for a long time — not that I wouldn’t have benefited from it, but because God hasn’t moved me to. The last time was back when I was still married to my ex-wife. I felt moved by God to fast — ostensibly for the salvation of the marriage. On the third day, I realized that I was fasting for the wrong thing, and I shifted my focus. I fasted not for my marriage to be saved, but for God’s Will to be done. Two months later, we divorced. As God never “wants” divorce, I can only assume that God wanted my eyes on HIM when it happened, rather than on the void that was about to open in my life.
…only to be filled again when I met Mary a few months later. But that’s another story 😉
Or maybe it’s not. Had I not fasted, I might not have met my divorce with the kind of acceptance I finally did, and I might not have been in the place that I was to receive Mary with such honesty — with complete disclosure that I was a broken man, lacking the strength for the typical “dating games”, and bearing the motto “What you see is what you get”. I can EASILY see Mary as having been a rebound, without God drawing my focus to Himself.
I thank God for moving me to fast then. As I thank Him for moving me to fast now. I don’t know why He wants me to observe this particular Lent, but I’m sure He’ll let me know when the time is right.
Oh, and what am I going to be fasting from? Well, I know it’s fashionable to fast from certain foods, and some churches even advise a certain schedule for what to fast from when. Personally, I gotta call shenanigans on all that. When you fast, your fast is between you and the Lord. Your fast SHOULD NOT be evident to those around you, because when it is, it draws attention to what YOU’RE doing, and AWAY from what GOD is going to be doing THROUGH it.
God knows what I’m fasting from. Mary knows (hey, she’s my wife; it’s not like I could keep it secret from her!). Those who know me well enough might be able to pick it out, if they look hard enough. But as to the rest of the world, nah. If God moves me to talk about it later, I will, but in this time of separation, it’s nobody’s business but God’s. Love yall to death, but none-ya 😉