Church · Month 1 · Seven Experiment · Words to live by

The F Word.

Lol, made you click. Since you’re already here, let’s chat about the F word that always makes me cringe a little inside: Fast. The ‘fast’ I’m referring to is the biblical concept of voluntarily doing without {typically food} for the sake of honing your focus on God and his spiritual provision.

It’s such a churchy word, don’t you think? To the average non-Jesus following person, mentioning ‘fasting’ takes the religious conversation from tolerable to NOPE in about .5 seconds. Most likely because the concept of doing without is counter-cultural, especially for Americans. Most of us don’t have to do without…. so we don’t.  Also, the concept of self -sacrifice and going without {food especially} dances along the lines of some cult cultures we know about and condemn. Not eating and even the word ‘sacrifice’ just seems weird to most of us. But I want to share with you that biblical fasting is good and wise and not reserved for any special ‘level’ of Christianity {there are no levels, by the way, and if anyone tells you there are… run the other way}.  Fasting is for anyone who loves God and wants more of him.

usually-the-things

Fasting must be specific to each individual because the topic of the fast has to be meaningful for that person, otherwise the fast won’t be effective.  A food fast is good for everyone, really, because food is meaningful to all of us. If I were to choose to fast from television it wouldn’t be an effective fast for me because I watch very little television as it is, and could definitely go without it and not miss it. My response to a TV fast would be “meh”. Reducing my possessions is difficult for me, though, and is a true sacrifice, but might not be the right fast for someone else – like my husband, for example, who is not your typical American consumer and could care less about his clothing options or whether or not we have a cute vase on the table…. weirdo. It took him 5 minutes to toss 1/3 of his wardrobe into the donate bag without a single moment of angst or a second glance. Meanwhile, I’ve been working on my own closet for weeks and have had to take frequent mental health breaks to preserve my emotional well being. Because I love my stuff. I love my clothes. I love the pretty things in my home. They make me feel good, but if I’m honest with myself, they are burying me! There is such a things as too much good. Keeping clothes that make you feel confident and keeping things in your home that help it feel peaceful and comfortable and full of love is not bad. Those are good things. However, when it becomes excessive it is actually sin. It’s unhealthy. It consumes my time {because I spend so much more time cleaning and organizing and putting away all the things}. It consumes my patience {because I can’t ever find the thing I’m looking for amongst the other things}. It consumes my rest {because I can’t take my focus away from my to-do list long enough to be quiet in reading or prayer}. It consumes my control over my emotions {because I get easily upset over the loss of a thing when it gets broken or ruined, and my immediate reaction is not one of grace and love and forgiveness}.

I don’t want to be consumed.

“Don’t hoard treasure down here where it gets eaten by moths and corroded by rust or worse – stolen by burglars. Stockpile treasure in heaven, where it’s safe from moth and rust and burglars. It’s obvious, isn’t it? The place where your treasure is, is the place you will most want to be, and end up being.”

Matthew 6:19-21

So, this month I’m participating in a fast from possessions. You can read more about it here. I’m taking a purposeful look at the stuff in my home and severely paring down. Are you living in excess too? Many of us are experts in excess. We expertly and excessively consume ______ {expensive coffee, fast food, clothing, shoes, Facebook/Reddit/Pinterest/Twitter/other social media I’m not cool enough to know about, pretty trinkets, cars, Netflix shows, purses… fill in the blank with wherever your time and paychecks and go}.

“As Jesus explained it, the right things have to die so the right things can live – we die to selfishness, greed, power, accumulation, prestige, and self-preservation, giving life to community, generosity, compassion, mercy, brotherhood, kindness, and love. The gospel will die in the toxic soil of self.”

– Jen Hatmaker, 7: An Experimental Mutiny Against Excess

Join me?

Xoxo,

Ashley

 

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