A few weeks ago, I found myself not-so-strangely curious - and just a tinge excited - about what that night's dinner was going to be. There may or may not have been some curiosity about breakfast and lunch the following day, too. And as I wondered, there crept up this suspicion that, once again, I was thinking a little too much about food.
I think about food a lot. Too much, I admit. Grocery shopping has been exciting ever since I was charged with feeding myself. I feel empty without food. Okay, that's normal. But it satisfies. It delights. There are some people in the world who eat because they have to, and there are many who eat because they enjoy it. I am, without question, in the latter category. I'd venture to guess most people reading this are too.
As I realized that I was looking forward to dinner just a little bit too much (Except for Thanksgiving, a meal probably shouldn't be the culmination of your day) I was convicted that food was becoming an idol for me. Food is a good thing, but when something becomes a central source of comfort and satisfaction, it probably needs a closer look.
So I thought it was time for some good old fashioned fasting. I had only ever fasted one time, mostly just to see what it was like. I went sundown-to-sundown and nearly died of starvation. You're supposed to be able to last 40 days without food, I hear. I didn't make 40 hours. At sundown that night, I made a beeline for subway and got myself a spicy sandwich, devoured it on an empty stomach, and paid dearly the following day. Fasting, like most things, will take some practice.
One couple here fasts every Monday. They've been doing it for 40 years. They're warriors. Not me. I'm not about to give up a full day every week. One day is a good enough start for me.
I fasted. Sunday night through Tuesday morning, right through my day off. There's nothing specifically holy about a full day's fast, I don't think, but it's a tolerable time period that poses a challenge and shouldn't drive you insane. And it's called breakfast because you're breaking your fast. Instead of devouring calories at mealtimes, I went to the Bible to read a Psalm or two. David cries out to God, asks Him where He is in his time of trouble, when enemies are bearing down and have him cornered in a cave and want to kill him, when he's betrayed by friends and depressed and lost and infuriated. I was going to ask where God was when I wanted a sandwich.
At first, it wasn't so bad. Get up. Drink some water or Gatorade. Read a book. Try to feel busy. I tried to do some writing. Early in the day was the worst. 10 am, and you've got a rumbly in your tumbly and a whole day ahead of you. I began to plan a feast the following morning - bacon, toast, eggs, fruit, hash browns, apple juice, me drooling over the whole thing - not realizing that this pretty much defeated the whole purpose of fasting.
Lunch time came and went. More water, a little more Gatorade. Then there was a dog fight and I tried to break it up and A DOG BIT MY HAND. Yeah. So, hunger disappeared as there was blood streaming down my fingers and worries in my mind of rabies and who-knows-what-kinda tropical dog diseases there are down here. Pretty sure it was the camp dog that bit me, and I know she's up to date on her shots. Thus far, I have yet to foam at the mouth. Except when there's a toothbrush in it.
Maybe it was the extenuating dogbite circumstances, but I didn't have an issue with hunger the rest of the day.
It is no coincidence that I came across this Psalm that day:
Psalm 90:14 - Satisfy us in the morning with your unfailing love, so we may sing for joy to the end of our lives.
How very strange and cool to come across such a verse on a day of fasting. Satisfy us in the morning, and we'll sing forever, for eternity. Only God's love provides true, lasting satisfaction. I knew this. But there's something powerful about reading it with an empty stomach.
There's a reason we fast over and over again. We need to learn and relearn the necessity of delighting one's self in the Lord. Let Him feed you, and it lasts forever. This is worth revisiting.
The following morning, I got up and immediately thought about that breakfast smorgasbord I'd planned the day before. But I didn't really want it anymore. I just wanted breakfast. Not some enormous feast that I'd earned from a day of righteous fasting. So I fried a couple eggs, made some toast and ate a normal breakfast. After all, it's the most important meal of the day.