I love food. If it was a love language, it would be in my top two for sure... Seriously. I’m a pretty stingy person. I hate spending money on actual things, but I have no problem with spending “dolla dolla bills ya’ll” on food. Any kind, I’m not biased — fast food, Starbucks, pizza, chicken, ice cream... All good. All welcome here.
So when I participate in things such as fasting, I don’t often sacrifice my food. I’ll typically give up things like certain types of food or TV or social media. Things of that nature. But never all food.
At the beginning of this year, I felt like God was asking me to do a personal fast. I thought about it for a while. I knew I needed to do it, but I just kept putting it off. Then finally, I decided to dialog with God about it and really try to do this thing. I knew He wanted me to do this sooner than later.
“But You see,” I told Him, “Emerson’s birthday is tomorrow, so that’s not really a good time for me.” I really wanted to be able to fully participate in all of the festivities surrounding our daughter’s birthday. It seemed selfish to me, for some reason, to choose to do a fast and not celebrate completely with her.
Want to know what God showed me in response to my excuse?
1. Fasting is not about convenience.
And, side note, when did it become that? When did I begin only fasting when I had nothing going on, no sacrifice to make, or when I wanted to drop some pounds to fit into my beach attire?
2. Everything is not about me.
My fasting will not upset my daughter’s birthday. We can still celebrate. We can still do all the things we had planned to do for her that day. And she will still have an absolute blast. Why? Because her birthday is not about me. It’s about her. But here I was, making it about me.
Those things felt like a slap in the face to me, but in the best way possible. I’ve been asking Jesus to make me more like Him, to help me love others the way He does. And you know what, He was answering my prayer. He was giving me what I wanted. He will help us be more like Him if we ask, but the process can often hurt.
The selfishness of me was hindering the Jesus in me, and it had to go.
But it won’t leave unless I am, first, aware that it’s there, and He knew that.
After we settled the issue of when I would fast, we had to tackle the what. Since He began impressing upon me to fast, I knew He was asking me to give up food. Not just certain foods like I had previously done, but ALL foods. Ugh. I wanted to pretend like I couldn’t hear Him or feel His nudge on this one. I began reasoning with Him… again. As if the second round of reasoning would yield a different result than the first (I’m pretty sure that’s the definition of insanity).
My excuses this time?
I have kids. Have you met them, God? I need all the energy I can get in order to take care of them.
EXCUSE #2 (And one that I use often):
I’m just not sure I’m “called” to give up ALL foods.
Every time I have tried to give up all foods before, I have never been able to follow through. I inevitably break my fast within a matter of minutes to hours. I’ll justify it and pick something else to fast instead. So how in the world do I think I am going to be able to do it this time??
His response? “Why don’t you ask Me to help you?”
What? Ask You for help on something that I’m doing for You?! That just doesn’t seem right. I wouldn’t ask a friend for help on something that I was doing for her.
I’ll be honest. In all of my years of following Jesus, in all of my years of hearing about fasting and participating in fasting, I never once thought to ask or did ask the Holy Spirit to help me with it.
Oh my friend, how often we do this in our day-to-day lives (or at least I do). We begin doing things for God and forget to ask for His help. I am so often guilty of this. I feel like I should be doing it all by myself since it’s for Him, but that’s not what He’s asked us to do. He wants to help us. He wants to do things withˆus. He wants to do things through us.
He made it very clear in a talk that John recorded. You can find it in John 15:4-5.
"Remain in me, as I also remain in you. No branch can bear fruit by itself; it must remain in the vine. Neither can you bear fruit unless you remain in me.
I am the vine; you are the branches. If you remain in me and I in you, you will bear much fruit; apart from me you can do nothing."
The thing is, I knew this truth. I had even given a talk on this truth just a few months ago! Most of us who are Jesus followers know this truth, yet we seem to forget it or not give it the seriousness it deserves. Jesus wants to us to bear fruit and do great things, but He doesn’t want us to do it apart from Him or without Him. He wants to do it through us.
If we don’t ask Him to help us and stay connected to Him, we can do nothing. That hurts to hear sometimes, because I like control, and I like to work hard and achieve things. I also really do enjoy doing things for others. So when I am doing things for God, I like to achieve it on my own. But that’s not how He’s designed it. And boy, is that freeing.
So whatever you’re doing. Whatever you’re working on. Whatever the daily grind is for you. Whether you’re mom-ing, wife-ing, running a business, working at a business, blogging, writing, designing, creating, serving — don’t do it on your own or in your own strength. The only thing that will yield is exhaustion and frustration, and eventually, you may throw in the towel. Instead, if you’re a Jesus follower, ask the Holy Spirit to help you. There is no situation or struggle or mediocre task that He doesn’t care about, and that He isn’t willing to help us with.
So what are we waiting for?