THE FAST

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As soon as I woke up that morning, the truth I wanted to forget came slamming down my throat. Oh man! I could already smell the aroma of food from the kitchen. Why did I agree to this? And, of all days, on a school day?!

No! I said to myself. You’re gonna do this, Alex.

I spent the rest of the morning staring at my watch. Through devotion, chores, time seemed to drag. Why couldn’t time pass quickly?

I tried to get my mind on to something else. All the while, I tried to find good reasons to get out of this one. Not this time, it seemed God was whispering in my ear.

“Oh,” my Mom said softly, as we arranged the dishes on the table later.

I stared up at her. “What?”

“You’re fasting, aren’t you?” she asked. “It’s written all over your face.”

Thank God for Mother’s intuition! A couple of friends and I had decided to take Tuesdays out to pray for our school. Grades had been plummeting, kids were going wild; it was a nightmare. So we’d decided to stand for Christ, hold the fort, and keep praying. That’s why we’d taken the Tuesday fast. It didn’t matter that we were students. We would hold out the light and let it shine!

But now, I really needed to eat. My body was screaming for food.

I nodded. “No matter how hard I try, I can’t get out of this one.”

She just went, “Hmm…” Nothing more. I stared at her, waiting for the punch line.

“Well?” I prodded.

“What?” she said, with that familiar mischievous grin on her face.

“Isn’t this the part where you get all motherly and tell me I can’t fast? Cause I’m in school, and I need the energy?“ I said in my sweetest voice. I wasn’t telling her to tell me to stop, just prodding her. Whenever she told me not to fast I got off the hook, most times to my chagrin. But today was different. I actually didn’t want to fast.

She wiped a plate with a towel. “Whatever you’re going to do is between you and God,” she said.

“Aw, Mom…”

“Don’t ‘Mom’ me,” she said. “Besides, I didn’t tell you to go on a fast today. I wouldn’t be the one to stop you. So, there.” She placed the plate in the stack with a firmness that said, period.

I stared at the delicious plate before me. “I could get tired,” I said. “I may not assimilate well. I may –“

“You may go late at this rate,” she added. “And remember Jesus’ words. When you fast, don’t let your face be sad or gloomy. Let it shine. Get your happy face on.”

“But—“

“Ah! Ah! Your happy face. Now let’s see that. Good.”

I knew I would not win this one. So I agreed.

Dear God, I really need you for this one.

I decided that the fast was for my own good, to keep my attention on God. While at it, I could as well make it worthwhile. So I kept on thinking on God’s Word.

Aargh! Why was I exceptionally hungry that morning? Weird?!

Oh man! I can’t hold on much longer!

I checked my watch. Someone must be messing with the time.

So I got to school and made it through the morning assembly. Made it through my first class. The Second. The Third. Visions of what I would eat after all this ran through my mind repeatedly. Phew! I couldn’t believe I made it through it all

I made it!

As I took my first bite of food, rushing a random prayer of thanks in my mind, I checked the time.

10:00 am.

Lord, let’s try 10:01am nextweek. At this rate, I could make 12 by the end of the year!

Looking back, I think I’d gotten the whole ‘fasting’ idea all messed up.

Fasting is not primarily about staying away from food. It’s staying away from what seems to be important (in this case, food) to ‘fasten’ on to what really is important (God). It’s kinda like a way of building the muscles of your spirit. Yeah, it may seem excruciating but the results will tell, when we do it for God and not for others to see.

Jesus said more about the Fast in Matthew 6:16-18.

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