Today's post is written by Lori Anne Camaya. Lori lives in NJ with her husband and 2 children. She enjoys spending quality time with her family and friends. Lori also serves as a Women's LIFE small group leader at Jacksonville Chapel.
Writing this post is far outside my comfort zone. I’m not a super Christian and I don’t have it all together. I’m just a wife and mom who loves Jesus and has a never ending pile of laundry. I’m someone who was able to humble herself in the mess of life and was asked to share my story.
Like many others, as 2015 started, I considered making New Year’s resolutions. I was reluctant to do so, knowing if history repeated itself, they would last about 3 weeks before I gave up. I knew in my heart that the areas of life I needed to do better in were areas I tried to maintain control of myself. Instead, I turned to God and prayed for more of Him. Hebrews 12:1-2 tells us to “throw off everything that hinders and the sin that so easily entangles, and let us run with perseverance the race marked out for us. Let us fix our eyes on Jesus, the author and perfecter of our faith…” I prayed God would show me areas that were taking up too much space in my life.
Shortly after, I began to feel convicted about the importance food was playing in my life. Though I love Jesus and appreciate what He has done in my life; when I was stressed, bored, or needing comfort, I would head straight for carbs or sweets and not the God I love so much.
I was being led to fast.
I considered God's character of faithfulness and Peter stepping out of the boat. I was also mindful of the other disciples who didn’t. I had a choice. Fasting, versus choosing what would be more comfortable, meant an opportunity for God to do something amazing in my life. I didn’t want to miss out. Resting on this verse, "For I know the plans I have for you,” says the Lord. “They are plans for good and not for disaster, to give you a future and a hope. In those days when you pray, I will listen. If you look for me, you will find me. I will be found by you,” says the Lord" (Jeremiah 29:11-14), I stepped out with a willing heart.
The night before Ash Wednesday, God confirmed that He was inviting me to give up food for Lent. I became expectant. I was not going to be legalistic or religious about it – no intense set of rules for which we see Jesus repeatedly chastise the so-called religious leaders of his day. I told God I would fast for whatever length of time He led me to... thinking 3, 5, 10, possibly 21 days.
About 2 weeks in, I realized this was going to be a 40 day fast.
I've tried to fast in the past, but I never understood how, or the purpose behind it. I always got wrapped up in the details, the rules, the sacrifice. I always had ulterior motives, like losing weight or trying to get God’s attention. This time, I was being asked to surrender control, my agenda, fear, pride, even the lies I had about food being an idol in my life.
Fasting is a posture of the heart. I didn’t have to do it, I got to do it. My heart gets overwhelmed that the God of the universe loves me so much that He heard my prayers and wanted to draw me closer to Him this way.
A misconception I had before the fast was that the only discomfort would be the fast itself: my sacrifice of food. However, as hard and uncomfortable situations arose, I asked: "Really, God – why is this happening?" Once I realized that God was allowing these things in my life, so I could grow in areas of peace, gentleness, forgiveness, and patience, it was confirmation that God was doing a good work in me.
Don't be dismayed if you have difficulties while fasting; consider it a confirmation. Press forward.
Perhaps, the hardest part of this journey was realizing all my habits, resolutions, actions in life stem from my heart. Pastor Dave spoke in the "Give It Up" series about how we all worship something.
God wanted my heart, not my sandwich.
I've learned through this that I don't need to have it all together or even know what I'm doing. I don't have to be qualified or strong. I don't need to perform perfectly (one night during the 40 days I actually had a milkshake as my meal; another night a chai latte). God still loves me. More than wanting to lose weight or do it perfectly; I desperately wanted more of God in my life.
Most importantly, I realized that giving up food for 40 days (which seemed like a huge, unimaginable, daunting idea) WAS NOTHING compared to what I gained. Nothing is greater than Him, nothing more fulfilling or satisfying. On Day 40, instead of being hungry, I was sad it was ending! He reminded me that I did not have to be fearful of it being over. He doesn't love me anymore or any less than before this started.
At the end of 40 days and nights, I was humbled. He had given me a sense of peace, gentleness and forgiveness like never before. He opened my eyes to see Him more clearly in my life. I desire wisdom and discernment more than ever.
For those wondering what it looked like, I fasted with liquid nutrition. During the 40 days, I mainly drank water, almond milk, juice, broth/smooth soups, protein shakes, and coffee (that I didn't give up). I typically had 1 protein shake or a bowl of broth/soup once a day, so I was probably consuming about 400 calories a day or so. In addition to studying the Word, I also downloaded free devotionals on fasting which I read during the fast.
I will definitely incorporate fasting in the future, although I can’t call it a habit just yet. I’m so thankful for the love of Christ which was constant before and after this fast. I love that He loves me right where I am, and that He continues to work on me. "Being confident of this, that he who began a good work in you will carry it on to completion until the day of Christ Jesus."(Philippians 1:6 NIV).
He wants to do the same for all of us – that means you too.