Tweaks, Fasting & Feasting

author | Steve

CONSUMPTION & TWEAKS

I was born and bred to be an American consumer. And I’m good at it! So why do I regularly feel so empty? So hungry? So unsatisfied?

We are consumed with consuming.

It goes like this. Something tweaks inside of me. Anger. Guilt. Loneliness. Sadness. Apathy. Something. Half the time I don’t even know. It tweaks, and I don’t like the feeling. Without even thinking about it, I immediately look to rid myself of the unwelcome guest by consuming something. Often this seems benign. A snack. Something special like chocolate or ice cream or beer or a glass of wine. Maybe a game on TV, or a little time on Facebook.

we are consumed with consuming

Instead of exposing and exploring the tweak in my soul, I bury it under consumption. The benign is actually a sickness – a disease. It gets worse too. Some tweaks in my soul are harder to cover up, so I need to consume more alcohol, or pornography, or another person (no, not cannibalism, but devouring other people so I don’t have to deal with my own stuff – it’s called co-dependency). You see this a lot on social media, where people feast on each other and their favorite enemies to cover over the tweak in their soul – the deep hunger that will never be satiated by consuming more of anything this world has to offer.

instead of exposing and exploring the tweak in my soul, I bury it under consumption

STARVING

Here’s the thing. I’ve been doing this for 44 years! It starts when we are super young. Someone hurts us. Someone disappoints us. We disappoint ourselves. Then, the true enemy – Satan, the father of lies – starts lying to us over and over and over again so that we cover up that tweak in our soul, which is really a deep hunger for what only God can give: healing for our pain, forgiveness for our guilt, acceptance in place of rejection. We cover over it by consuming anything we can to make the feeling go away.

We stuff our faces, our bellies, our eyes; and all the while we continue to starve.

We stuff our faces, our bellies, our eyes; and all the while we continue to starve.

FASTING to BE FED

For the longest time I never understood fasting. Most of me still thinks the whole thing sounds stupid. Except, God keeps stirring me with it.

I had heard in the past that fasting (that is, denying myself food over a certain period of time) was a good way to make space for listening to and talking with God – prayer. A couple times, I dallied in this and found that I could pray just as well without fasting – and then I didn’t have to be so hungry!

But I’m starting to see this differently. I think fasting can be a gift from God, that invites us to be hungry in front of Him; to actually expose our deeper hungers instead of masking them by consuming stuff. When we allow ourselves to feel physical hunger, and then, don’t race to fill it with whatever is in the fridge, we stop the process of covering our deeper hungers – the tweaks in our souls we are so quick to cover. Sitting hungry in front of the God of heaven just might be exactly what I need!

Sitting hungry in front of the God of heaven just might be exactly what I need!

EMPTY in FRONT of THE GOD of HEAVEN

Nehemiah did this when he was suddenly brokenhearted over the plight of his people back in Jerusalem. He was living in five-star luxury in the king’s palace in Susa, but God tweaked his heart for His people. Nehemiah could have buried that tweak in all the opulence and plenty that Susa had to offer. Instead, he sits in his broken-heartedness and “for some days I mourned and fasted and prayed before the God of heaven (Neh 1:4).”

I don’t know much about fasting. What is obvious now is I have tried to consume my way forward and it is sorely lacking. I hate the tweaks in my soul, but I’m discovering that sitting exposed in front of the God of heaven is the only place those tweaks are really dealt with – healed, forgiven, restored, fed, accepted, and on and on.

Don’t get me wrong here, I’ve believed I was saved by Jesus for as long as I can remember. This faith, given to me by the Holy Spirit, has sustained me all my days. But at the same time, I have spent much of my life covering the tweaks on my own.

sitting exposed in front of the God of heaven
is the only place those tweaks are really dealt with

AN INVITATION to A FEAST

So here’s what I want to do. I want to invite you to experiment with fasting in front of the God of heaven. It is not a commandment in Scripture. Simply an invitation to allow your hunger to be felt and seen in the safest place there is – the presence of your heavenly Father.

In these days of boiling anger, of abrasive divisions, of blatant self-righteousness, of the embracing of our own shame – instead of consuming something or someone to cover over how these days tweak our souls, I invite you to feel deeply the hunger of the world for a savior. Feel deeply your own soul’s hunger for a savior.

Experiment with fasting. See what happens. See how God shows up. Experience what kind of table He sets before you in the presence of your enemies. I’m beginning to find that He offers what Isaiah describes:

Come, all you who are thirsty, come to the waters;
and you who have no money, come, buy and eat!
Come, buy wine and milk without money and without cost.
Why spend money on what is not bread,
and your labor on what does not satisfy?
Listen, listen to me, and eat what is good,
and your soul will delight in the richest of fare.
Give ear and come to me;
hear me, that your soul may live.
~ Isaiah 55:1-3a

 

 

A couple resources you might want to check out on the topic of fasting:

  • Celebration of Discipline by Richard J. Foster – Chapter 4, “The Discipline of Fasting”
  • Spiritual Disciplines Handbook by Adele Ahlberg Calhoun – Part 7/Pray: Fasting
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2 thoughts on “Tweaks, Fasting & Feasting

  1. While perhaps not commanded, Matthew 6 records Jesus beginning His teaching on a series of activities with “when you…” He seems to be saying these things should be on your list. Fasting is included in the list. I agree with your recommendation. I believe the Lord will honor your obedience.

    Like

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