“Fasting slows life down enough to examine unconscious patterns of living, forcing us to face the chaos.”
I remember as a child climbing the clay cliffs that skirted the shore of Lake Ontario just a block away from my home. One day, grappling up the side of a particularly steep bank, I discovered an old, half-buried rope. I carried it down to friends below. The weathered hemp rope was choked full of knots. Together we went to work with little fingers, undoing the entwined lumps, making it useful for climbing. It was an impossible assignment. Years of weather had fused the knots as if the strands were interwoven when the twine was first made. Later in life, I have often gone through a similar struggle reminding me of this childhood scene. Being analytical by nature, I too frequently enter inward, trying in vain to undo emotional damage and negative thinking that clutter the personal path of spiritual growth. It may be a trust issue due to childhood betrayal. Or fear and unwillingness to take risks, again blocking the path to what I know I am capable of. Emotional and mental knots, that over time have established themselves as part of the weave and will within.
We all have them. Some lives are choked with inner knots, medically depressed, oppressed, toxic resentment, poisoning unforgiveness, festering bitterness, self-hate, low self-esteem and broken-heartedness. God wants to undo the knots and heal the heart.
During fasting, toxins are loosened and cleansed from the body, cell by cell, even within deep tissue. The process hurts as by-products enter into the blood. Feelings of weakness, even discouragement, accompany a fasting dip. It is during this time people often give up the fast, dispirited. In the same way, old emotions, memories and hurts are stirred. Why this happens is a mystery. It could be a combination of radical change in lifestyle, slowdown, mental clarity, and the working of the Holy Spirit. Connections are made between a harmful past experience and present encumbrances. They are powerful moments of awakening, and the strengthened fingers of the will are able to skillfully undo the knots that bind, finding new freedom. We discover new strength, convincing a tired hope that one is never too old for remarkable change.
Fasting slows life down enough to examine unconscious patterns of living, forcing us to face the chaos. It is like pressing the pause button of life and quietly observing how crazy and detached we have become.
Fasting also applies pressure to the flesh, and you may be appalled at how much the flesh will squirm. But it is high time that the flesh is removed from the role of God, dethroned and placed under the foot of your will. It is the creativity of a freed will that lifts us above animal instincts and releases us from the cages of empty routine.
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