If you read my end of January post regarding my first month experience about my 2015 One Word – fast – you may have thought that it made no sense at all.
I would agree.
It was a month of confusion as I now look back because I was both overwhelmed at how to work/experience/do this one word fast with all of its implications (and… well baggage, too) and of finally realizing at some point, (maybe after my end of January post, I don’t know for sure,)
that I need to simply fast…
in many different ways but for the same reason – there are many walls (barriers?) between God and me that need to come down because fasting is about getting quiet, small, silence before God and listening to/for Him.
I am not talking big, tall and several feet thick walls but walls that create rooms, many rooms, filled with many things that I have put there thinking “I need that right now.” It has become a museum to me and Joan Chittister’s words I quoted in another post a few weeks ago echo in my mind:
Lent is the period in which, learning to abstain from adoring at the shrine of the self, we come to see beyond the divinity we have made of ourselves to the divine will for all the world.
This month has been a month of learning how to and experiencing seeing “beyond the divinity we have made of ourselves.” Not everyday but many days.
And one point of clarity that I have had is that my passionate pursuit of God is anything but passionate and a pursuit. These walls and rooms have blocked that passion; drained it.
Maybe… in some ways… I should say faith instead of passion… the rooms remind me of my shrine to myself; my worship of me… where as the Lord is not being worshiped.
Another thing that fasting has been teaching me is that I need, really need silence.
I have encouraged the congregation I serve to gift themselves this Lenten season with 15 minutes of silence a day. I try to do it the morning but I am beginning to think I need to do it later in the day because of how much the doubt, fear, impatience, anger, come running into my mind, heart, and soul.
But they coming running, I admit, into my mind, heart, and soul any time of the day and night.
But I need silence.
I need to simply be quiet. still, focus, small; that all the stuff in all those rooms between God and me are demanding my attention and keeping me from really paying attention to God.
Silence is requiring me, I think, to fast from anxiety.
And anxiety and fear has always been a driver of/in my life.
One of the connections I have made in my journey thus far has to do with the need for simplifying. Simplicity actually – a vital disciple.
My life is too cluttered and I have no margin.
At one point several years ago I began to make room for margin. I needed margin.
So, after as series of sermons about “Saying No so you can say Yes to God” I started simplifying my life. It took me three years to finally let go of all the community/denominational projects I was involved in.
But now it seems I have cluttered my life with other things… inner things – fear, anxiety, envy, and the like. And they too must go.
Fasting it seems is putting them on notice. And it is not a pretty sight.
Fasting, I am again learning, is not about being spiritually cool and hip, not about weight loss though that might take place, nor about becoming spiritually superior. No, it is about setting aside things that distract and seeking God for the sake of seeking God, period. Not to get something from Him but to simply be still, be quiet, be small (centered?) and hear Him say, “Jim, …”
O to hear that voice, clearly!