Monday, November 11, 2013

Fasting: More Than Just Seeking More of Jesus!

We’ve just arrived back in Colorado after our two-month road trip.  In reflection, I think this trip may have been more of a spiritual field trip in preparation for something the Lord is trying to teach me.  I’m asking for patience as I sit and ramble some, only because the thoughts that are running rampant through my brain haven’t yet been processed. I still need to put them together in one cohesive unit.  In this sense, I’m probably a bit premature with this blog, but everything seems to coincide with the study I’ve been digging into on being a Jesus-follower and fasting. 

First may I say, my country is truly beautiful from “sea to shining sea.”  I thoroughly enjoyed every breath-taking minute as we traversed this land, eyeing the landscape from the mountains to the valleys to the Eastern shoreline and back.  What a miracle that God chose to allow me to be born here in the midst of diversity and freedom.  I do not take that for granted.  I live in a land filled with resources – a land of plenty.  However…

I began to see my country in a new, and, I’ll admit, frightening way when we returned from Kenya.  Prior to our flight across the big pond, many of our family and supporters asked if we were fearful to go because of the recent terrorist attack on a Nairobi mall.  It never crossed my mind that this might deter us from going.  No, I was not intimidated.  Yet, when we returned to the US, our government had been through a chaos-driven two-week shut down, our national leaders seemed to be more divided than ever, Americans seemed to be battling their fundamental rights, and our president stood in front of the cameras speaking what some were calling “mis-truths” (a pretty way of avoiding the word “lied”).  As we caught up on homeland news, my heart felt dread-full-heavy.  We seem to be on the brink of disaster.  Unless someone steps on the brakes, we could easily be driven off a cliff…

So, this brings me back to the book of Matthew, and Jesus teachings about fasting.  Remember, he talked about “when” we fast, not “if” we fast.  Jesus assumes we will fast as a Jesus-follower.  My initial thoughts were that those who walk as Jesus walked do so because they want more of Him more than they want to fulfill the lusts of the flesh.  I still think this is so, but there’s more to fasting… 

In seeking more commentary from the Word on this subject, I’ve read Isaiah 58, Joel 1, Daniel 9, Zephaniah 1, and Nehemiah 1 (I invite you to read those chapters). Fasting and crying out (loudly!) were a commonality.  Fasting and confession always went hand in hand…not just personal confession, but, often, on behalf of the NATION.  When Joel called for a solemn assembly, he called for fasting and confession of Israel’s corporate sin - even so, the prophet Zephaniah.  When Nehemiah and Daniel fasted, they wept for their own sinful hearts, yes, but the bulk of their prayers were on behalf of their homeland.  The Lord, speaking through Isaiah, instructed the Israelites in how to fast properly in order that this nation might be led by Righteousness and protected by the Lord, as their Rear-Guard.

Here’s why I think I was sent on a field trip across the US (well, one of the reasons…): God is calling me to instill fasting as a regular rhythm of discipline on behalf of my country.  It’s one thing to see our country in snippets and another to see it in its entirety within such a short time frame.  I found myself falling in love with America in a way I had never loved her before.  As I fell in love with her, my heart ached for her.  She was birthed out of worship for God (religious freedom echoed out of the hearts of those who colonized her).  We are following a dangerous path that leads us away from our foundational heritage.  Our two-week trip out of the country also intensified these truths.  I have sensed my Lord asking me, “Do you love your country enough to pray and fast for her, confessing on her behalf, seeking Me to lead and protect?” 

Even though, honestly speaking, inside I dread the thought of this spiritual practice; because I want to be a Jesus-follower, to walk where he has walked, to train for righteousness, my heart is saying, “Yes, Lord.”

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