Thoughts on fasting…all aboard the humble train…

Thoughts on fasting…all aboard the humble train….

I just finished a 40 day Lenten, social media fast. It took me until day 35 where I could see the value it had in my life….and the work it had begun in me….and that is how the discipline of fasting works. It simply makes room for the Holy Spirit to rearrange some furniture in your heart so you can stop bumping your shin on that darn table that is not in its right place. Some silence so you can hear and simply the act of saying no to yourself over and over is like throwing water on that lump of clay that has set on the potter’s wheel too long and gotten a little stiff. It makes you soft again, removes the cracks allows the transformative creative work of the Holy Spirit to keep moving forward in ernest. Mostly, It makes you humble. And when you humble yourself before the Lord…that intention of your heart is a GAME changer people…every single day. 

The Holy Spirit started drawing me to fasting in my late teens. The first time I fasted, I was 19 years old in the Chech Republic. I was far from home, in a very new situation and needed serious direction on a particular matter in order for my summer to move forward peacefully. I had NO idea what to do and no one I knew close enough to council me and my parents where so far away I couldn’t call them…so I did the only thing I knew to do. I thought, God will help me….and people who REALLY need God fast right?

Im a jumper. I kind of go on a gut feel rather than think about it. The blessing of being intuitive is that you don’t agonize over all the details. The curse of it is…that you don’t agonize over all of the details. I just jumped in with NO idea of what or how to do it except that I stop eating and start drinking water. I fasted 3 days…I sat in a field and prayed and cried and prayed and cried. Then I would sleep and read and wait….and on the third day total spiritual revelation. That moment, that jump, that experience  has drastically changed and enhanced my entire life. God taught me something very very sacred and special that summer long ago. Since then, I have routinely fasted in different ways for different lengths my whole life.

Later on, I was inspired by Bill Bright who spent the last years of his life in fasting and prayer. I mean..no joke..40 day water fasts….once a year, every year for years on end until he graduated into Glory. He said his work was spent in prayer and fasting…and now…the longer I walk this journey of life…I agree with him. In my early 20’s I wanted to boldly change the world with courageous acts and big productions…now at the dawn of my 40’s I still want to boldly change the world, I just see my roll and work in it as a small, silent and hidden work. My work is to fast and pray and incarnate the love of Jesus….making the business of everyday living not just beautiful and interesting but supernaturally full of God’s tangible presence. Real, Honest, Raw and Broken but being renewed.

I knew mystics and the church fathers and mothers knew all about the art and discipline of fasting but now a-days…no one talks of it…and few practice it but Jesus said WHEN you fast not IF you fast (Matt 6:16-18)….so I am taking that to mean…it is important and powerful part to our Christian discipleship… Trust me…I get it….it totally SUCKS to tell yourself  no over and over again. No food for days are you kidding?I love food..I love making food…I love eating food. Have you seen my Instagram feed? But you don’t have to fast food to begin to embrace this practice. Just take one thing in your life that takes up time or space in your life more then other things….sugar, talking on the phone, social media, shopping, playing sports, caffeine, alcohol…really anything that would force you, on a daily basis to tell yourself NO.

Over the years, I have done Daniel Fasts, and media fasts and sugar fasts and social media fasts, juice fasts and water fasts. And all of them have been helpful in training my heart to stay soft. Soft to the one presence that can truly change me…God. And in the presence, I put all my eggs. Full 100% trust in the triune God. You stay soft by telling yourself over and over that you don’t have to do, think, act or talk the way the world says you should. You can be different. You can have a totally open mind to all the thoughts that the God of the Universe has not the Prince of this World. You can allow the gentle rhythm of his voice, shape and mold your mind, your heart, your daily living. Some days I sit quietly in prayer and imagine that the most faithful, wise, loving,gentle and clever being in all that has every been comes and sits with me. I gave him my brain that he washes over in over in his living water…I give him my heart that he washes over and over in his living water, he shapes, molds, creates new life in my every day. When I was three I gave him my whole being with a little whisper that said.yes..you can have it all…  I call this presence God and I received him through his son Jesus. The holy Trinity are my SERIOUS homies and the church….the people of God..across all traditions are my people.

I did not grow up in a liturgical church that used the church calendar in any way and only learned of and appreciated their customs in my  later years. I have been around the world enough and experienced the presence of God in enough traditions and streams to say that the Mamas and the Papas who created the liturgical church calendar….in its inception  where on to something. It was a fabulous idea. I dig it…I get it….it’s taken me years to understand the “what” of it…but the whole idea of Lenten fasting is BALLER. I am hooked on it….and on the guide rails of this particular heart weeding. It’s kind of like the thing you do every winter in your garden to prepare the beds to produce a bumper crop. You let the soil rest, infuse it with nutrients, turn the soil and cover it in darkness and at the proper time, it can get back to the outward work of producing food. That is what a fast is for me. Kind of like Jesus…go into the tomb…and in a few days come out the same but different. 

this time….

it was a dreadfully slow start…..excruciating really….like I…was…dying. 

so much silence…

so much time and space….

so much aloneness and loneliness….

what the hell God? I didn’t think social media was that big of a deal…I didn’t think this would be THAT hard….

no voice, no opinion, no being heard, no living vicariously through others lives, no place to gush about my kids…except to them alone…. no place to be heard or validated, no place to make a point..no one to compare myself too…..no silent judgements or flag waving….just silence…..

Then the sacred and quiet whispers of the One beckoned me to just wait it out. He wasn’t kidding with that still small voice business. At times…it is just a whisper and yet it holds  the power to move mountains….even those Everest like crags in your heart…just Trust…be still….and wait..…

in all the waiting…I found things to do…so I didn’t have to be still….

clean…

and organize

and get rid of unwanted stuff…..

and clean…and paint…and hang pictures…..

I make all the appointments and organized the calendar of events into 2017…

I weed…and then I realize it is only day 3…UGH….

as I outwardly did all these acts of spring cleaning, I felt the inward work of the Holy Spirit doing the same surgery on my heart. 

Fasting is the spiritual discipline of cooperating with the Holy Spirit in weeding the garden of your heart, spring cleaning, removing clutter..allowing the removal of false idols in your life….gently and decisively. 

The progress goes something like this…day 1…this isn’t so bad….day 2…still not too bad…day 3…REALLY..seriously it’s only been three days….day 4…I have to stop counting…is anything happening??…Day 5….Day 6…ALL the cussing……Day7 I hate this silence and space…and then you start to settle in to the work of it because this is going to be a LONG time….and then by the end you are sad to see it go and wished you’d have just a little more time with it……then it is gone and you reemerge into the normal routine of your life…folding up the garment of fasting with all of its stains and tears and grubby places from all the working in the stillness and you put it away gently, reverently, sacredly into the linen closet  of moments that form the fabric of the life that you are living and creating with the Gentle, ever present, all knowing presence of the Giver of Life.

holy….quiet….hidden…grubby…and powerful

If this inspired you in anyway to experiment with fasting and you are local….lets have coffee and chat about it….if you are not local…and want to chat send me an email or check out this resource online. Happy Resurrection Sunday All.

http://www.cru.org/train-and-grow/devotional-life/personal-guide-to-fasting.html

Pax,

The Abbess.

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