Here’s a great piece of advice for you to tuck away:
It is a bad idea to fast and then, in the middle of the fast, decide to start reading the book called Bread and Wine: A Love Letter to Life Around the Table, by Shauna Niequist.
A week ago our senior pastor visited our Saturday evening service and requested that we all fast from at least one meal during the week, to pray over a decision about whether we should adopt a people group in India, the Pardhi, who mostly have no idea who Jesus is.
I do not want to fast, I thought. (Add to that statement the image of a 4-year-old letting you know how he feels about cooked spinach. Except I’m 45 and 11 months old and should respond better to instruction from my pastor.)
A few days into the week my husband complained of a headache.
Why do you have a headache? I asked.
Well, you know. I haven’t eaten anything today, he said.
Did he really have to fast? Because I was gladly ignoring the whole thing, and besides, with our kids visiting I didn’t want to be all crabby and hungry.
So I did not fast and enjoyed Christmas food to the point that I almost felt ill.
It came to about 11:00 in the morning, on the last day in which I could fast and pray for these Pardhi people, and I did not want to fast. I love all the other spiritual disciplines so much. Ask me to meditate on a verse. I’m all over it. But the hungry thing is so miserable.
I sighed big and decided it was only one meal. Surely I could go without one meal and pray during that time.
Which brings us to Bread and Wine and how I almost gave up fasting during the chapter about blueberry cobbler.
But I stuck with it and had the most amazing experience with the Lord.
There I was feeling weak, and the majority of my praying had to do with thanking God that I never go without meals. Thanking God that I was hungry because I was choosing to be hungry.
That’s when I read Shauna’s words:
When you eat, I want you to think of God, of the holiness of hands that feed us, of the provision we are given every time we eat. When you eat bread and you drink wine, I want you to think about the body and the blood every time, not just when the bread and wine show up in church.
At 5:00, after eight hours of no food, I broke my fast and heated a warm bowl of stew.
It was snowing outside, and I was wearing the new wool skirt that I had just gotten for Christmas –the one that I imagine makes me look like I just came off the ski slopes. Except you know I didn’t.
I savored that stew and thanked God again that I had food to eat.
That was when I really prayed for the Pardhi people –when I thought about how hungry they are, literally and in the gnawing poverty of their souls without Jesus.
That’s when I thought how much Jesus is like a hot bowl of stew on a winter Montana night.
Every soul needs something hearty and warm.
When I got to church an hour later, the senior pastor brought us a word about the Pardhi people, and you know what he said?
We want this people group to be seated around the banquet table with us one day.
At the end of the service I went forward and circled yes on my ballot to adopt these people, and underneath yes I wrote a hundred times yes.
Because we’re all so hungry, and we need Jesus.