Frustration overwhelms me as I reflect on so much wasted time during a week of being homebound by a week of snow and ice. I haven’t been able to write. I feel a little lost. I sit with God, ready to journal and sort out my thoughts. Where to start with sharing spiritual practices?
Fast week is coming up at my church, and I am considering doing it properly, which I have not done before with the Roots community. In “letting go of my desire to be in control”, (from the prayer I am praying each morning), I am wondering if You have an invitation in this that is different from what I am thinking I need to fast from. I am wondering about the point of fasting. I don’t think it is about changing Your mind, God, about something (fasting for…), so is it about breaking habits (fasting from…), and if so, how is that different from trying harder? And what really is the point of that?
My thoughts turn to Isaiah 58. Here God is telling the people they are fasting for the wrong reasons, and yet they expect Him to hear them and respond with blessing.
“On the day of your fasting, you do as you please and exploit all your workers…" (verse 3)
"Is this the kind of fast I have chosen, a day for a man to humble himself?” (verse 5)
Well, yes, I think so. But God is obviously saying, no, that is not what a fast should be about.
“Is not this the kind of fasting I have chosen: to loose the chains of injustice and untie the cords of the yoke, to set the oppressed free and to break every yoke?
Is it not to share your food with the hungry and to provide the wandering poor with shelter— when you see the naked to clothe him and not to turn away from your own flesh and blood.” (verses 6, 7)
“If you do away with the yoke of oppression, with the pointing finger and malicious talk, and if you spend yourselves on behalf of the hungry and satisfy the needs of the oppressed…” (verses 9,10)
So, I am wondering as I read all that if the fast God is looking for is really about fasting towards…. that fasting has nothing to do with my needs, even for change, and everything to do with how my life can be poured out for others.
So…when I fast this week, it needs to be towards/for those who are oppressed or hungry. Who is that in my life? Who is tied with cords of a yoke, and what is that yoke? Who is hungry? Who needs shelter? As I think of what You have called me to in this season of my life, that means –Dakys—which is the name I have given to the unknown woman for whom I am writing my blogs and devotions...who possibly includes you!
Now I am beginning to feel the WOW factor. Yes, God, You are speaking. The oppressed/yoked that I have any access to (and that is only as You open doors) are those who need to know Your love, your presence, that You are so totally for them…How can I communicate that –Your laughter, Your freedom, Your life flowing through them, letting go of the trying harder and finding You doing in and for them what they need.
So, here is the invitation for you: when you choose the spiritual practice of fasting, how do you fast in a way that God wants? How do you make your choices of what to fast from include who you are fasting towards?
Who are the oppressed and who are tied with yokes in your life? Who are the hungry? Who needs shelter? How are you turning away from your own family?
These are questions to sit with and process with God your Father—not to pull you into condemnation but to open you up to possibility and wonder. God’s heart is for you and for everyone in your circle of life.
Peter says: “Be agreeable, be sympathetic, be loving, be compassionate, be humble.
That’s your job, to bless.
You’ll be a blessing and also get a blessing.” (1 Peter 3: 8, 9)
Enjoy the journey!