I had reached the end of fasting. Three years. Six seasons. Advent and Lent. Advent and Lent. Advent and Lent. Three cycles. 2010, 2011, 2012 .... And yet, nothing.
What had started off as a vague sense of direction in 2010, knowing that my window into full-time academia closed with the recession and reaching the limits of what I wanted to do with my career, it started off as a time of contemplation. What’s next?
Then into 2011 it got a little more urgent. We had a child. A sense of permanence was needed. Yet, we wrestled.
By 2012 the sentiment was: okay, we give up. Seriously, this fasting stuff. What is it good for? Our answer: no idea.
I had no clue what fasting was really for. I had heard it worked for people. Besides, Scot McKnight told me to do it.
I know it satisfied my soul before, but that was the past. And it had never been this long. Fasting felt like the stock market: past performance did not guarantee future results.
So, after Lent 2012, I was at a loss. The wants of 2010 and the needs of 2011 had turned into outright desperation. We were looking at our very way of living spinning perilously out of control. There was a second child on the way and we needed to make some life changes. But nothing budged.
Three years, and nothing to show for it, except some empty stomachs and quiet commutes.
Then this happened. I got a job. We moved to a new state, into a place that gave us the space we needed for the price we needed. We were free.
And it all came after the fasting.
We come to fasting with certain expectations. We fast so we can get stuff. It is the thought process:
“I’m fasting, so help me God.”
What fasting does, whether in a week or three years, is change the thought process until it is:
“HELP ME! So I am fasting.”
Fasting is a response to our desperate need.
In this Advent season, we are responding to the desperate need of a Savior to come and be with us. As we stuff ourselves on Thanksgiving, it’s important to note that just two days after, Advent begins. We turn from thanks to hope, knowing that we should bring ourselves to anticipate Christ and celebrate his presence on this earth and in his church, now and forever. And in this hope, let us take a break from our appetites and fix on the desperate need we have for that urgent plea in Revelation:
Come Lord Jesus, come.
God help us. So we are fasting. Whether fasting from food, from over-celebration, from overspending, from over-indulgence, from over-decorating, let us conspire together to reflect on the awesome coming of Christ and his future coming.
May our hope, and fast, be in this.
CC Image • Arbron on Flickr