Tuesday, January 29, 2013

Empty and Full

When I was in high school I once read the entire Bible. I would read a little bit every single night before I fell asleep and rarely missed a day. In fact, sometimes if I missed a day I would have a really hard time sleeping and would wake up in the middle of the night to read. I heard a lot of sermons about the importance of daily devotion to God, of having a "quiet time." All of those sermons came from a place of Truth and those speakers were trying to instill in me a desire to be devoted to God.

There's got to be more to it. Trying to contain a relationship with God in a 10 minute window is harder than taming a lion. The God that compelled some men to leave everything they had and move to caves in the desert is surely more than can be contained in your morning devotional. The prayers you recite before family meals and as you drift to sleep might seem to be a healthy level of communication, but there's so much you're missing.

A commitment to advanced prayer is a commitment to advanced joy. The first thing you have to do is challenge your beliefs. For me this comes easily. I'm naturally cynical and my unbelief can be hard to overcome. Comfort is the enemy of sanctification, so you have to challenge any form of comfort you feel. For me, reading uncomfortable books or watching videos that challenge beliefs I take for granted are ways I keep my faith on the forefront of my thinking. Even still, that won't bring you face to face with God the way one spiritual discipline will.

Don't eat.

Fasting removes your masks. It breaks down every wall between you and the Creator you've knowingly or unknowingly constructed and forces you to reconcile your hunger for food with your hunger for God. One of the desert fathers said that once we give in to gluttony, every other type of sin was sure to follow. To him, being able to control his desire for food taught him everything he needed to know about what he really "needed."

When I fast, I like to go on walks or spend time outside alone. I do this because fasting heightens my senses and my awareness of God around me, so being in His Creation will have a tremendous effect on the success of my fast. Listening to the wind blow through my ears while I pray and walk brings me to the feet of the loving Christ faster than a quick read through a chapter of Scripture in the morning ever could. God is out there, he is moving and speaking and easy to hear. When I remove something as "essential" as food from my life, I am compelled to see God more. There's just more room for Him.

Advanced prayer, advanced joy.

Breaking the fast can have as much of an effect on me as any moment of the fast. Celebration, eating and drinking and laughing with friends, is a reminder of the gifts God has given to me. The fast reminds you of how blessed you are, how much you have, and how little you did to deserve or earn it. You never know how good gas is until you have an empty tank, and you never appreciate a good meal until you are starving. God is present in absence, He works in your rest, and He sustains you because He loves you.

1 comment:

  1. WoW! Drew, I am honored to know you. You have challenged me and are a great testimony of faith in our Awesome God. I can't wait to see what all God does through you!!!!

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A follower of Jesus, trying to build myself and others up from the inside out.