It’s hard to see why, since on most days I miss only one meal. Having said that, I have to admit that my relationship to food changes, while before I would have popped whatever was in sight and appealed to me, now I have to think twice before I commit. Here, lies for me, the first benefit of the fasting programme. By facing down the pain of an empty stomach, throughout the first hours of the morning, I learn to depend on God for the times when He asks me to wait; wait for an answer to prayer, wait for a healing to take place or just to wait, on Him.By refusing a meal, first thing in the day, I begin to understand firsthand what it is like for the millions of children around the world who do not have food to eat.
I feel their pain, and learn to give thanks for what I might normally take for granted. By missing a meal, today and knowing that I would have to miss it again tomorrow and so on till ten weeks have come and gone, I begin to develop the discipline to go without. Even though the food is there, I choose not to eat it. In a little way, I begin to understand what it means when someone said that “their bellies are their gods”. I realise I can choose not to sacrifice at this altar and the heavens would not fall.
I begin to cast my eye over the rest of my lifestyle, and wonder if there’s any other thing “I can’t do without”. Are there things I still do, because “the Holy Spirit hasn’t spoken” even though the Pastor has shared his views, views based on first hand experiences from “the field”? As with my relationship with food – these things I still hold onto, have they become “gods” – I can’t do without them. Or can I?
By holding back from satisfying the longings of my stomach, I train myself for the moment I break so I can hold back from stuffing on all I can see and having to endure that monster – bloat. Moderation must be a virtue!My eye-opener came the morning I walked past a Tesco breakfast counter at 11:00am. And you know breakfast closes at 11:35. The wafting aroma of a full English breakfast – sausages fried till they were curling at the edges, bacon adorned with aprons of fat, all crispy pink, Golden hash browns eyeing the mess of baked beans on French toast – hah! I fell –big. But guess what? It wasn’t satisfying. Rather than dizzying heights of pleasure, I was hit by this, this emptiness. Weighed down by the frustration of a missed goal, I realised it was not long till 2:00pm after all.
In one sense, sin is like that. It never really delivers the goods. Time and time again sin is a letdown. It promises all, but delivers none. As someone else said, “Bread of deceit is sweet to a man; but afterwards his mouth shall be filled with gravel”. If I take nothing else from the 70 days programme, I take away this: sin, like food before it is time to break, never satisfies. Rather, it leaves me feeling dirtier.