Recently I've been exploring the idea of fasting.
Did you know it's actually a requirement to fast when you're a Christian?
"When you fast, do not look somber as the hypocrites do, for they disfigure their faces to show others they are fasting. Truly I tell you, they have received their reward in full. But when you fast, put oil on your head and wash your face, so that it will not be obvious to others that you are fasting, but only to your Father, who is unseen; and your Father, who sees what is done in secret, will reward you." Matthew 6: 16-18
Campus Community, my school's church service on Wednesday nights, read this verse last week. The verse has stayed with me because it seems like such a basic rule, 'don't boast about your spiritual life', but I struggle with boasting on a daily basis.
I laughed because I was studying a verse on fasting and how it ought to be an intimate thing between you and your Creator, but I had been fasting all week and telling everyone.
If you do a good deed in secret, God still sees it. Nothing can be hidden from Him. But we still desire to tell people and get praise for it. Now, I believe it is healthy as believers to share our testaments of faith and our Jesus stories, but we shouldn't expect praise for every good thing. After all, what is man's praise compared to God's praise? Man will always let us down, but the Lord's love will never cease nor waver. So why should I focus on telling a cute boy that I'm 'super religious' and 'fasting for Jesus' when I can tell the creator of all the cute boys that, and I can go to Him for help?
Jesus says 'they will receive their reward in full' meaning that all the hypocrites wanted was man's praise. They aimed low. But God's reward is eternal life. What more could anyone yearn for?
So, yeah- I fasted last week. I did what is called the 'Daniel fast' and ate only what Daniel would have eaten, not a full fast, but a fast nonetheless. But, since I'm not near perfect, or even good in God's eyes, I slipped up. I prayed every day when I was craving hot chocolate or some goldfish. I began not running to food, but to Him. But when a friends wanted to get a doughnut or pizza, I went along with them because I value community in my life right now. I justified breaking my fast with God to talk to the people He has so kindly put in my life.
I think that's another reason we shouldn't boast about fasting. We are human and we will screw up. Along with fasting some unhealthy food, I also fasted online shopping.
I realized that this past week that whenever I was stressed I ran to food or to my computer for comfort, but not my Heavenly Father. I literally have the Creator and Comforter of the universe in my corner, but I would rather look at dresses online when I'm sad.
Guys, it worked. Not only is my wallet breathing easy now, but so is my soul.
I didn't get reborn or come to God's feet in a dream or anything, I just readjusted my routine. When I sat at my desk, I didn't reach for the bag of chips and scroll through the Halloween sales. I opened my Bible and studied His word.
I learned what was sustaining to me. I'll get over hunger and I'll forget what meat tastes like. Clothes wear out and beauty products run out. But the Word of God that was documented two thousand years ago still applies to me everyday and carries me through my life more than a brownie or a new pair of shoes ever could.
I think one of the reasons I had so much success with my 'fast', even if I cut some corners, was because I knew I was going to struggle and slip up. I also knew that every time I went to God, He wouldn't see me as a mess or a hypocrite, but as His child whom He loves without fail.
I realized this past week how much my soul longs to be fed, or my mind to be put at ease, but I wasn't really helping the problem, just numbing it for a bit. Now that I've seen the difference from calling on the Lord to gain strength and calling on Him out of duty, I know how much He can fulfill me and others way more than food or clothes ever could. It's funny. We think that we need those basic items to survive, but we really just need Jesus.