We come this morning –
Like empty pitchers to a full fountain,
With no merits of our own.
O Lord – open up a window of heaven,
And lean out far over the battlements of glory,
And listen this morning. (James Weldon Johnson)
And when you fast, don’t put on a sad face like the hypocrites. They distort their faces so people will know they are fasting. I assure you that they have their reward. When you fast, brush your hair and wash your face. Then you won’t look like you are fasting to people, but only to your Father who is present in that secret place. Your Father who sees in secret will reward you. (Matthew 6:16-18; context)
This Lent, we are exploring our faith by running through the alphabet. Today, “F” is for Fasting. A fast is a way to make a space, to open up a hole within ourselves. A fast is an active and difficult denial of something that has influence over us (traditionally food, though fasts certainly are not limited to that area). When we fast, we forgo the things that we usually use to fill us up. And when we cease to fill ourselves up with all the junk of the world, we make room within ourselves for God.
Fasting intentionally opens up a hole for God to fill. When you move, you always have boxes piled up for a while. But then you unpack a little bit at a time and then sooner or later you can walk around the house unhindered by all our stuff. This is what fasting does for us. When we clear away the rubbish that has piled up in our interior selves, we make a space for God to come in and dwell. And the more interior square footage we devote to God, the better we will be able to listen and respond to God’s movement in our lives.
If you tend to fill yourself up with stuff you don’t really need, then don’t buy anything beyond basic necessity. If you tend to fill yourself up with worry about the security of your livelihood, then stop and pray when you find anxiety setting in. If you tend to fill yourself up with desire to live as the rich and famous do, then skip the grocery aisle magazine racks and E! Entertainment for a while.
As you deny yourself the things that normally fill you up, actively invite God to enter the newly cleared space. Choose to fast. Clear away the rubbish, hollow out your insides, and give God a place to fill.
Dear God, you are present both within me and around me. Help me to make more room for you to fill within so that I can listen more closely to your voice. In Jesus Christ’s name I pray. Amen.
I leave this moment with you, God, taking hope in the overarching reality that you are the Alpha and the Omega, the beginning and the end.