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The Fasting Slowdown

By: Ron Lagerquist

“Fasting forces the issues. Forces a slowdown and a new watchfulness within. Re-evaluate and love anew, refreshing the things that truly matter.”

I am constantly amazed at how petty I can be with my teenage daughters, in spite of priding myself on developing patient fathering skills. I find myself apologizing for stretching an issue out of proportion while at the same time murdering love. What I was saying became more important than how I was saying it. Feelings got hurt, and then came division and strife. 

Parents do it, churches do it, and worst of all, many live their entire lives by issues and useless rules, losing the greatest joy one can experience—love. This is exactly what happened to the Pharisees, making a big stink about healing on the Sabbath, yet missing the whole point of Christ’s ministry; thus missing the whole point of their own lives. 

I am a people watcher. At the mall, I can sit by the hour and watch. Watch and grieve. I see fathers in such a hurry to get somewhere they leave their children behind, stop, turn and scowl them faster, then rush on, lost moments never to be recaptured. I see married couples walking together, miles apart, barely tolerating each other’s company. I see children manipulating their parents through embarrassment to buy them a candy. I see people alone; unable to look up for fear they will make eye contact. Rarely is there a happy face among the river of bobbing heads, yet they are surrounded with the finest material possessions this world has to offer. And everyone in such a hurry! Where are they all going? What important task are they in the midst of performing?

I challenge you to go and sit in the mall while fasting and watch with new eyes. Then weep and pray that God would re-establish your value system. You have a value system, we all do; it dictates where our energies are spent. For Pharisees it was rules. Fathers can be the same. For most of us, it is building and maintaining our material possessions while losing our soul. Losing loving moments with family. Losing fellowship with God. Then losing peace, joy and contentment, thus turning to the world to fill the void.

Fasting forces the issues. Forces a slowdown and a new watchfulness within. Re-evaluate and love anew, refreshing the things that truly matter.

We often use the laws of physics to illustrate laws of life. As we get older we increasingly fight inertia. The buoyant enthusiasm once abundant in youth matures into dutiful determination, where, yes, we are moving but going nowhere. And many I talk to feel as if their lives are stuck. The deeper the rut the greater the momentum needed to get what really matters moving.

Even after writing several books, I find it a challenge to sit down and write. Laundry, dishes, TV, working out, talking on the phone, reading the paper, checking my e-mails, all come to my mind the minute I get within ten feet of the laptop. I don’t feel creative; I’m tired, maybe tomorrow. Happens all the time. But once I wade through the mysterious emotional goo and tap down my first few words the creative burners turn on and away I go. Momentum!

Then the surreal world of writing intoxicates perception, creating acceleration fuelled by enthusiasm. Where moments ago I was barely able to sit down, now I am in the zone, satisfied and content, writing. 

Here is a remarkable thought. You may be one decision away from a complete life change—one courageous step away. Fasting is a fabulous first step toward radical change. Diet change, thinking change, and greatest of all, spiritual change, from where all genuine reconstruction comes.

There is nothing inherently spiritual about fasting. Fasting releases what is already present. And what is present—a body bucking to be healthy. A God, hungry to be close to His children, and an inner man groaning for a level of communion only the Holy Spirit can furnish.

Related Article: Fasting And Solitude

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