A “Me” Fast

February 24, 2010 | 17 comments

The pastor’s words are lodged in my Lenten heart:

“Do something that is big,” he tapped out on the keyboard. “Do something that will change your life.”

His name is Craig, and he’s an old high school classmate who leads a vibrant and growing church in Omaha, Nebraska. (You can find him over at http://www.craigfinnestad.com/)

At his keyboard 180 miles away, he typed words that made a God-deposit in my soul. I read his words on Ash Wednesday, at noon, just after talking to God about what I ought to give up these 40 days.

Facebook? Desserts? Blogging?

None of it seemed quite right.

Then, I read Craig’s words:

“Some people give up wine or soda or chocolate or eating beef on Friday. Nothing is evil about such practices. A little sacrifice never hurt anybody and the body may be grateful for a little less alcohol, sugar, or fat. But do any of the above promote lasting real life change? Probably not. It probably has more to do with obligation and ritual than it does an authentic desire to connect with God.

What do you most deplore about yourself? What is it in the next
40 days that you can do to rid yourself of these self-destructive
behaviors?

That seems more beneficial than not drinking coffee.

What is it that you are so excited about and where does the world need you the most? What is it in the next 40 days that you can do to give yourself to the world and have the time of your life in the process?

That seems more exciting than not going to Sonic.

Do something that is big. Do something that will change your life!”

— Craig Finnestad

***

I wanted to do something big.

So I sat at the wheel of the pickup truck with a good friend later that day, steering through those snowdrifts that remind of my sin all stacked up.

She and I talked about what we were giving up this year. What would we fast? And I told her about Craig’s words, and how they’d made a God-deposit.

“I think I need a fast of me,” I told her. “I want to give up me.”

“You wretch,” she blurted, and we laughed but could have just as well cried together right there between the snow banks. For we both know the depth of the truth of the matter. We’re both wretches in need of daily heart surgery. And by His grace, we receive it.

As I grow in my faith, I’m ever-more-aware of the depth of my depravity and wretchedness. How often in my life have I thought that I could turn a corner and somehow have “arrived” in my faith? Too many to count. But this faith we share is not a once-and-done proposition.

We are growing in Christ, and shrinking in self.

And so this year, I’m giving up me … wretched ol’ me. This is my “Me Fast.”

“He must become greater; I must become less.” — John 3:30

***

My “Me Fast” is divided into three areas of more fruitful living. I pray this fruit lasts beyond 40 days. My “Me Fast” looks like this:

TIME: I give God the FIRSTFRUITS of my day — not the hour most convenient for me.

HEART: I pledge to daily — even hourly — commit my sinful tendencies to God’s control, to moment by moment draw on the power of the Spirit. I ask God to help me live by the FRUIT of the Spirit, and I renew my commitment to put aside the sinful nature.

HANDS: I ask God to empower me to bear FRUIT that will last. I pray that the FRUIT I bear would show myself to be His disciple.

O gracious Father, I thank You that You are the God of second chances, third chances and 748th chances. When my flesh fails (and You and I both know it will) make Yourself greater within me. Let’s face it: You and I both know I’ll still be a wretch in 40 days, but I want to be more like You, less like me. Step by step, Lord …. Thank you, patient Father. Amen.

***

holy experience

Each Wednesday, I join Ann Voskamp as we explore spiritual practices that draw us nearer to God. This week, we consider FASTING.

by | February 24, 2010 | 17 comments

17 Comments

  1. Jenny

    A "Me Fast" Perfect!!

    Reply
  2. Kay @ Off the Beaten Path

    Oh I feel the same way. Some days I just want to literally crawl out of my skin and put it in the dirty clothes hamper. But even that wouldn't help. I still have my mind to deal with 🙁

    Thanks for the inspiration. I think I just need to say no to me more. No, I'll not go turn on the TV because I'd rather watch TV than do what I'm supposed to be doing. No, I'll not fix what I want for supper instead of something my husband would enjoy. No, I'll not say the first thing that comes to my mind when someone pulls out in front of me. No, I won't sleep ten more minutes instead of having plenty of time for God before the day begins. No, I won't…

    Reply
  3. jasonS

    Great post and excellent thoughts (as always).

    Reply
  4. JoAnn

    Wow. That is so good. Thank you for sharing that.

    Reply
  5. Phoenix-Karenee

    This sings the tune of the desire of my heart. So lovely to see it put in just this way! I'll gladly join you in this fast, for it is sure to benefit the soul and glorify God in the process.

    Reply
  6. Lady Claudette

    Wow, that's so great 🙂 I pray that your change lasts not only for 40 days, but for the rest of your life! 🙂

    Reply
  7. Sandy

    Oh, how well you have expressed what I have been feeling and struggling with regarding Lent this year. Although my church does not officially observe Lent, I have considered observing Lent on my own. But giving up meat, sweets, sodas, or other such things just didn't seem to be that much of a challenge or sacrifice. And how would it change me? On the other hand, giving up gossip, complaining, time-wasting, impatience, or pride is much more likely to make a lasting difference in my life. I know that the Lenten season is underway, but after some prayer, I will give up something for the remaining days–something that will hopefully change my life for His honor and glory.

    Reply
  8. Mc Allen

    ok, wow! I could cry. I moved here (to Ok. The bible belt as its called) from FL. 4 yrs ago. I have lost so much accountability. I miss it. Miss be sheparded, having to F.R.O.G it. Ive ben slowly regaining my fooring with Him. POressing fwd, asking for a reignighted passion. What an awesome reminder. thank you. Lovin your blog. xo LA

    Reply
  9. Catherine

    I think that's the kind of fast that I need, too. Thank you for your grace-filled honesty dear lady!
    Blessings,
    Catherine

    Reply
  10. D and A

    Loved it, what a great idea.

    I could not help but think of the book The Practice of the Presence of God by Brother Lawrence(lived 1610 – 1691). He seemed to be living in a "me" fast. If you have not read it, you may enjoy it during this time. It is a quick and powerful read.

    Blessings

    Reply
  11. Susan

    I love this! Jennifer, this is the second time today that I've studied First Fruits! This morning in my Wendy Pope's reading through the Bible, that was our main focus. It so touched my heart, I brought it up at supper to discuss with Hubby and the boys. Love how God repeats this when He needs to make a point. Thank you sweet friend! Stay warm!
    Love ya,
    susan

    Reply
  12. Christi

    This is what I'd decided for myself for Lent as well, although it looks a little different.

    What a great idea!

    Reply
  13. Rose

    Wow what a great idea. I sometimes get to full of myself so a diet/fast of "me" would be in order. Love this post!

    Reply
  14. Jennifer

    "the firstfruits of my day"–oh wow. An amazing concept. Really.

    Reply
  15. elaine @ peace for the journey

    I am challenged by your thoughts to consider what a "me fast" might look like for me. I know we are well into the Lenten season, but I don't think it's ever too late to consider the question. I've lived with "me" for 43 years. I could use a little less of me if you know what I mean.

    Thanks for this. I will ponder… promise.

    peace~elaine

    Reply
  16. Chris Godfredsen

    Me, too, Jennifer. Me too!

    Reply
  17. Chris Godfredsen

    Me, too, Jennifer. Me too!

    Reply

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