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Seven: The Fast That Sets Us Free

 

I am a rule-follower. It’s in my genetic makeup to avoid getting in trouble at any cost. In addition to being a rule follower, I like to look good in front of people. Maybe that runs through our collective DNA to some degree, but I have run headlong into the problems it causes as I’ve prepared for this fast. One meal a day? Two meals? Every meal? Water only? Juice only? Blended up steak dinner only? Fast doing laundry only? (Kidding.)

 

I think we get very fixated on the rules of things. We focus our hearts on what we’re giving up rather than what we’re becoming in the process. This morning, Isaiah 58 smacked me right between the eyes, as it shows us people who are doing the rules right, but they’re doing relationship wrong. They’re denying themselves while oppressing everyone else. Look at this:

 

Look, you do as you please on the day of your fast, and oppress all your workers. You fast with contention and strife to strike viciously with your fist. You cannot fast as you do today, hoping to make your voice heard on high…”

 

Oh, do you see this? This is so big to me today. Going without food is not a quick way to twist God’s arm. Fasting does not demand His attention and so many times that’s how I’ve treated it – like it’s my last resort when I need Him to please, oh, please DO something for me. But when I read on in this passage, it seems like maybe fasting is HIS way to to get ME to please, oh, please change something for Him:

 

“The fast I choose is to break the chains of wickedness, to untie the ropes of the yoke, to set the oppressed free, and to tear off EVERY yoke? Is it not to share your bread with the hungry, to bring the poor and homeless into your house, to clothe the naked when you see him and not to ignore your own flesh and blood.”

 

Later in the passage, we get a bit of a tongue-lashing as Isaiah lists more behavior that is unacceptable to God:

 

“If you get rid of the yoke among you – the finger-pointing and malicious speaking and if you offer yourself to the hungry and satisfy the afflicted one…”

 

Wow. That’s big stuff. I know I’ve done a fair amount of finger-pointing in my life and it seems that no amount of giving up Twinkies will cover that up.

 

I do believe in fasting for our city and our church and I”m certainly fasting for healing for Steve and other things dear to me. However, it appears to me here that the chains of wickedness Jesus wants to break first are the ones that live in me. Fasting brings my junk to the surface. My selfish ambition. My need for comfort and recognition. My muddy motives. I’m not sure it matters how many meals I go without if I’m still “ignoring my own flesh and blood” when we go back to the dinner table. If I’m not more aware of the hungry and homeless because of this week, then I’ve missed something.

 

As I was praying about exactly what to give up during this fast, I felt…silence. I just couldn’t get an answer. But I did feel clearly instructed to do seven things every day of Seven and they are thus:

 

1. Pray
2. Read
3. Journal
4. Give to a charity that feeds the hungry
5. Serve Steve joyfully
6. List seven things for which I’m thankful
7. Fast despair, feast on hope

 

As I sow my sacrifice of the food I love so much into the soil of submission, I water those seeds with these seven things. And even if I see no outward change because of this week, I know I will see flowers start to grow in the person I’m becoming and the reasons for wanting to become it.

 

Seriously, these posts on Seven are very personal to me and I’ve tried not to overthink them. I haven’t edited much or well and I’m trusting that you’ll overlook the dangling participles and split infinitives and see the message in the muck of it all. Because I do feel the awakening of trust and faith in new ways here on Day Two. I feel it simmering beneath my skin and I like it.

 

“THEN your light will appear like the dawn, and your recovery will come quickly. Your righteousness will go before you and the Lord’s glory will be your rear guard.”

 

 

Beautiful. Possible. Exciting!

 

Looking for dawn,

 

Bo

 

March 28, 2014 - 8:27 am

William Hummer - Thanks Bo for the new blog on fasting. It is very good. I appreciate your honesty and exhortation for yourself and for all of us (for me). I take your blog seriously.

March 28, 2014 - 9:07 am

Holly Migas - Bo…..so beautifully spoken. I have like you fasted for years at times with our church or when I needed an answer. I think for the very first time after reading your posts I see it as not something to get God to listen and move on my behalf but to get me to listen and move. I am owning the thought that I may not see the outward evidence of my fast in my circumstances but I will see the inward evidence of my obedience in a change of my heart or attitude or thought process. That changes the spirit of the fast. It is a still waiting on the Father, but waiting and being expectant that through his grace and sacrifice I will change by surrendering more than before. Thank you for that!

March 28, 2014 - 9:14 am

Ryan Coburn - Bo, I have noticed for me it is a much more simple state of life while I am on my fast! I have one less thing to distract me from God! I first thought that little room would be made by leaving food out of my life. Now I see that I don’t need to plan for food, prepare food, or clean up after making food! Also I feel that for some reason I can hear God with less effort! I’m not sure why but I still have six days to learn why:D

March 28, 2014 - 9:21 am

Jen Gott - Thank you for sharing… As I cried through church last night and after, I felt so clearly that God wants my obedience and submission, not my rote following of protocol. Because I’m good at protocol and control (and making sure everyone knows it) but not so good at submitting. And that quiet promise that He wants to flood my broken places with restoration that didn’t seem possible? Well, that’s probably why I’m always crying.

March 28, 2014 - 9:43 am

bo - Holly, Ryan & Jen – your comments gave me goosebumps. I love how God is speaking clearly to you in the simplicity, Ryan. I love how God is reconstructing your view of fasting, Holly. And, dear Jen, I LOVE that He is doing the deep work that only He can do inside of your heart. Isn’t it so cool how much He can accomplish with just our little Yes? I’m so impressed by Him today!

March 28, 2014 - 9:44 am

Whitney - Corey and I had a prayer time this morning that was so peaceful it literally felt like vacation! On a normal Friday (our day off) we’d be making a huge breakfast and probably renting a movie to watch with Grey in our pajamas, and we will absolutely go back to that life next Friday! But today the hours creep by, and so we decided to sit down and pray, and it was simple and beautiful and rich with Gods presence. I’m thankful for the peace and abundant mercy that comes from making space for Him. ❤️

March 28, 2014 - 9:54 am

Chera - Love this week of fasting and what it means for different people….I had quite a shocking reaction to it yesterday, and Chad prayed with & for me. So grateful that each of us can listen to our God and do what we feel He is calling us to do!

March 28, 2014 - 12:38 pm

Patience - Bo – thank you so much for talking! I am new to your blog — I heard you on the radio. I have been walking through a battle for quite a few years now. And at first I thought the issue was one thing — for a long while. And I battled it furiously in all the ways I had been taught growing up in the church. But somehow it would not really budge for very long. I too am a very good rule follower. I did not realize how much I believed that if I “a + b then I should receive c”. Through many peoples’ stories, as well as my Father speaking to my heart, I have begun to grab hold of what you are talking about above. The things that we want to be free of are sometimes the secondary issue. The primary issue is learning how to be loved by our Father and love him back. And in that exchange of love, step by step, everyday, He addresses the giants in our lives — sometimes piece by piece as in Deut 7:22 — he did not remove the enemy all at once, but used it to make the Israelites stronger to take the land of their inheritance. I want to be a good lover of my Father. Your words have helped to keep pointing me towards this goal. Thank you!

March 29, 2014 - 9:54 am

Jim Kellley - Great word …this reminds me of a book “The Power of Spiritual Alignment, by Pastor Frank Damazio ISBN: 978-1-886849-87-7
*peace Jim