I’m posting this in part for families who’d like to fast for Lent. A few believe Protestants shouldn’t; but Matt Chandler offers this perspective–so it’s your call! At any time of year, I feel families can benefit. Here’s why. -Janel
Yeah, I bet you were wondering what I was going to write in this one. (I was, too.)
It’s hard enough for adults to get the idea behind fasting, I think. But I like how John Piper phrases it: Fasting is about demonstrating a hunger for God. It’s like saying, God, I want you this much. Remember how man does not live on bread alone, but on every word that comes from the mouth of God? Fasting—much like its sister discipline, simplicity–is like putting down the bag of Cheetos in our lives that mutes our soul’s shouting to be filled. (My refugee students could likely out-fast me any day, simply because they’ve lived life without being constantly satiated.) Kids aren’t likely to understand this easily, so let’s put it this way.
What it is
THE KEY: Fasting is a sweet offering to God of choosing against something we really like for a little while, so we can be satisfied by Him rather than all the pleasures in our lives.
God made those pleasures as good gifts! But He never means them to get more important than Him. Fasting helps us step away from them a bit, to spend time thinking of Him and praying more.
We keep it quiet, because fasting isn’t about making us look all spiritual. It’s about our private walk with Him, like a special secret between the two of us.
For those of you who’ve been married: Do you remember what “just married” felt like? After the sound of the tin cans clanking behind the car faded, after you set your bags down in your together home after the honeymoon—what was it like?
Reality: No matter how much training you’ve had, one flesh takes a lotta work. My sin settled in our little 500-square-foot apartment right alongside our stacks of wedding gifts. And when my sin collided head-on with his? Well, let’s just say sometimes I wished our duplex walls were a little thicker.
Do you remember the moment that first made you wonder if He truly loved you?
I don’t know if I remember the first one. But I remember the first big one, and I can trace the crooked, faltering lines of the rest of them through my past. (Fear has its way of searing itself upon the conscience.)
For me, unbelief usually blossoms as fear; as worry. My unbelief stems directly, stealthily, from its taproot in my heart. He loves me? He loves me not?
Perhaps I should ask you what it is always good to ask myself: This year—or, just today—what makes you afraid?
On many of the Wednesdays of 2017, I’ll be helping my friend Barbara Rainey, on everthinehome.com, explore what she calls “prayer lessons”: ideas to pray for ourselves, our most critical relationships, our communities. Today’s post begs God to fill us with belief, to root us—always first and immovably–in His love.
I hope it encourages you today, wherever this finds you.
The headlights wove through a mountain pass tonight as a few tears plopped on my lap. My husband had encouraged me to get out for some time alone; he and the kids shared shish kabobs at home. Usually I’m getting out for a relief from, well, motherhood. In the car it was blissfully quiet, blissfully alone. But my wanderings through the stacks of the used bookstore had struggled to lift what sat on my chest.
I mentioned I’ve been grieving lately. I wonder. Is it my heart’s questions that make me feel God is unusually silent?
Missed Part I? Grab it here.
I’ve been grieving some losses lately. The other day on my jog, they seemed to bottleneck inside, trickling out my eyes as my feet kept pounding, step after step. I’m not sure what God’s doing, but as I described in the last post, grief seemed… appropriate.
Though God’s given me glimpses of hope I can’t ignore–it also seems to deny Him access to all of me when I’m ignoring I feel anything, and jumping right to “It’ll be okay.”
It was one night several years ago when a couple of good friends were helping me sort action figures, Legos, and other kid-detritus into bins in my boys’ room following dinner together while our husbands were out of town. During the meal, they had asked candidly about how I was doing with our adoption—which is to say, the adoption we painfully decided not to complete.
Truthfully, my heart felt raw, as if it were beating outside of my body. My grief felt so vulnerable, so scraped and skinned and gaping, that privacy was all I could fathom to deal with it. I felt oddly embarrassed that we’d taken steps out of obedience to pursue this, and told people about it–and then, also out of obedience, backed out.
Moment of truth: When I was a young mom, a baby on my hip and three toddlers/preschoolers welded around my knees, rising early for a quiet time simply did not happen. Part of it was that Mommy-radar kids possess—the one that somehow senses She Has Awakened, and it is now time for the pitter-patter of little feet to commence. Part of it was sheer exhaustion, nursing through the night or pregnant for literally five years; a REM cycle is simply too key to being a happy mommy. So I would fold open my Bible at night, after the last drink of water/trip to the bathroom/I found an owie on my toe routine. And just before my eyelids fell in exhaustion.
But now that I have passed that precious and grueling season of survival, there is something magnetic about curling in the quiet with my God, as the gray light turns softly pink, and before my now-taller children shuffle out for breakfast. It has become my “me” time. It is my time to be embraced, much as I seek to envelop my kids in their bedheads and still-warm PJ’s as they emerge. The Psalmist writes it succinctly: Satisfy us in the morning with your unfailing love, that we may sing for joy and be glad all our days.
And this prayer, whether my quiet time works out as planned or not—this begging of God to satisfy me—has become a vital element of my day. I’m thinking about this on Barbara Rainey’s Ever Thine Home blog again today. Hop on over and check it out!
I could sense it in a conversation the other day, creeping over me like a bony hand on my shoulder. Later, I guessed it was similar to what some women feel when a confident, charming vixen sweeps into the room, swiveling all the male heads, and you’re in your sweatpants and greasy ponytail: immediate intimidation. And was that…jealousy? Ick.
My house is…well. Noisy.
Most of the time, I think like that this place gurgles with life. Someday, I think, I will be sad when my house is silent more often than it is loud.
But the current season is saturated with boy sound-effects of all varieties and odors; um, arguing; constant requests (I count an average three “Mom!” calls whenever I attempt to use the bathroom); and the din of my generally rowdy offspring. Quiet can be a hard-earned commodity.