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