Growing up, I’ve never been taught about fasting and prayer.  I knew of people who did it, but they were usually the Christians everyone whispered about being a little socially off or attention mongers.  So I kind of adopted the opinion that those who fasted were sensationalizing Christianity, like the televangelists I wince in embarrassment at. But then again, I did grow up in a church that’s great at patting itself on the back.  Honestly, most of the information I’ve read about fasting is a humungous turn-off coming from the exact religious perspectives I’m trying to separate myself from.  Ritualistic, self-glorifying, and false piety come to mind. 

But I’ve been thinking a lot about this idea of discipline.  Someone described it well to me when she said, “I pray when I want to, read my Bible when I want to, and don’t deny myself anything.”  Ugh, I am so undisciplined.  For me, food is something that I value way too much.  I mean, that much is very clear in my life -all 284 pounds of it.  I have made it an idol, something that I have been in sinful bondage to.  Modern America is a land of excess, gluttony and hedonism and this self-centered attitude has made its way into my life.

All through the Bible, people fasted during times of desperation, petition, challenge and preparation.  The church of Antioch fasted when they sent Paul and Barnabas off on their first missionary journey (Acts 13:2-3).  The spread of the gospel was considered such a monumental task that God’s help was sought with extreme measures – prayer & fasting.  Ezra and the godly remnant fasted to seek God’s direction for their journey back to the promised land: “Beside the Ahava River, I asked the people to go without eating and to pray. We humbled ourselves and asked God to bring us and our children safely to Jerusalem with all of our possessions.” (Ezra 8:21). They fasted and threw themselves under the guidance of God. “So we went without food and asked God himself to protect us, and he answered our prayers.” (Ezra 8:23).

David Platt, author of the book Radical (which ended up being a catalyst book for many in our small group at church), has a great message about fasting and he says that when we fast, we are saying that “More than my body wants food, my life needs You, my soul needs You.”  Man, how quickly do I crave food after just a few hours, not to mention a couple days. Do I hunger for Him with the same desperation that I desire food?
All this to say Jon and I have been convicted about our attitude in this time of waiting and anticipation.  We are up against a few weeks of intense decision making and utter uncertainty.  Really, we are a hot mess.  And we ask ourselves, do we actually want what God wants?  Are we willing to stand by God’s assignment to us like we say we are?  If that’s really true, then we feel we need to honor God, to petition Him, be obedient, walk our talk.  God’s saying go, be about My kingdom, serve the least, and we said okay, show us what that looks like and He’s saying no, go first.  Jon graduated from Washington State yesterday with his pre-med degree, marking the end of a season for our family.  But we have no idea what's next, I mean, we don’t even know point A to B, but just have to move forward.

In this time of self-indulgence and spiritual apathy we are trying to seek God with extraordinary means. We are coming to Him as beggars, just desperate to seek Him and know we are completely dependent on Him. There is order always underneath the chaos.  God’s never confused, He always knows what’s going to happen.
Well, it’s becoming my M.O. – if life isn’t crazy enough, I get uncomfortable.  If the last few years have taught me anything, it’s to be up for whatever.  When I look back at my 2008 self, I cannot believe how fragile and easily shaken I was.  When Jon was first laid off, he called me while I was in the car and can you believe I was so hysterical that I actually had to pull over on the freeway and stop driving.  My whole world was falling apart. 

But that’s just the thing.

It was my world that was falling apart.

It’s not until now that I realize we’d done just about zero in trying to find out what God wanted for our lives.  When God would tell us to do something that was outside our 5-year plan we’d say, “that’s great, God, we’ll pencil that in for oh, say 6 years from now – we’re working on something else right now.”  I don’t think I recognized that our disobedience was so blatant at the time, and God has sure let us learn that the hard way.  But I’m grateful that at least He still let us learn it – to be allowed to move forward in our own complacent plan would have been a tragedy.
In Haiti last fall.
So that brings us to now, and lately we’ve been nervous about how we might afford to move to whatever school Jon might get accepted to for the Fall.  We’ve been crunching the numbers, trying to figure it all out.  We had a little pity party; how could a family under the poverty line like ours possibly be expected to finance a move potentially across the world? 

And then one day I came home and had a “what the heck” moment. 

We have a whole HOUSE full of stuff.

I have 6 frying pans.  6.  And a TV in our bedroom we haven’t used in over a year.  And 8 coats and 12 scarves.  And wasn’t that me complaining just this morning about how we are overflowing with toys?!

Jeez, what is my problem?  We are NOT impoverished.  We are fine.  Looking at all our stuff, I was ashamed.  We’ve believed society when it tells us we live in poverty and have a good reason to pity ourselves.  We are in the top 5% of wealthiest people in the entire world, and we have the nerve to call ourselves poor?!  Ugh, gross.
Poor is all about perspective.
1 John 2:15-17  (MSG)
"Don't love the world's ways. Don't love the world's goods. Love of the world squeezes out love for the Father. Practically everything that goes on in the world—wanting your own way, wanting everything for yourself, wanting to appear important—has nothing to do with the Father. It just isolates you from him. The world and all its wanting, wanting, wanting is on the way out—but whoever does what God wants is set for eternity."
Ahem.  So.  Right when I’ve been having these epiphanies about consumerism and perspective, some girlfriends of mine have been reading this book, 7 by Jen Hatmaker.  With similar feelings, Jen and her friends took 7 months and did an experiment to find simplicity in a culture of prosperity and excess.  Each month had a different focus, the first being on food – eating only 7 things for a month while focusing on how most of the world lives and how much food we waste in America.  So wouldn’t you know it, our little group decided to follow with their own 7 experiment and I of course, (missing a little extra crazy in my life), am joining them.

So starting today I will be eating only 7 things until June.  Chicken, Spinach, Avocado, Bread, Potatoes, Eggs and Bananas.  It’s going to be a ride, but it’s chaos with a purpose, right?