Fasting is Not My Vending Machine
It’s been six weeks without social media.
Along with many other Christians (Roman Catholic, Protestant, Orthodox), I too fasted for Lent in a nontraditional way. But no, I didn’t have a spike in productivity. No, I did not sleep significantly better. No, my mind was not cleared of stresses and anxieties. No, I still have not received an answer. No, that relationship has not yet been healed and I have not received some grand revelation on how to go about fixing it. I will not paint a pretty picture where there was not one. I wasn’t getting what I wanted out of it. So, why did I follow through?
At the outset of my fast, I had high hopes for resolutions to my issues. In all sincerity, I went in viewing it as a dollar that I’d put into my Vending Machine God who would grant me what I’d requested after pushing the right buttons. I had already accepted that this isn’t what God is like. But that didn’t stop this attitude from creeping in. So, when I felt that I wasn’t being heard, I found myself cross-legged on the floor, sobbing uncontrollably. I was asking for good and unselfish gifts! Doesn’t she who seeks find? And doesn’t him who asks receive an answer?
Angry and dejected at the same time, I went through my list of memories, frustrations, issues, and pains that God has not yet healed. I questioned Him but He was silent. I was vulnerable and raw but all I heard were crickets. I punched my fists at the wind until my energies were worn. I had fought with God but, unlike Jacob, I had lost, walking out of a battle without a blessing. He didn’t even question me in return like He did Job. Nothing. So, again, why did I follow through?
Why did Jesus follow through? Why did He hang out with people who seemed hopeless? Just think about the crowd that Jesus spent His time with. Peter was constantly outspoken, a bit rash, and impulsive. Evidently, Jesus knew that Peter would deny him. But, for the length of his ministry on earth, Jesus stuck with him.
James and John couldn’t even dissimulate their self-interest! “Teacher, we want you to do for us whatever we ask.” Evidently, Jesus already knew they were “in it” for gain. They were motivated by self-interest, a desire for titles and glory shamelessly asking for a position at His right and left hand. They just didn’t get it. And yet, for the length of his ministry on earth, Jesus stuck with them.
Though he slay me, I will hope in him;
yet I will argue my ways to his face.
Though the fig tree should not blossom,
nor fruit be on the vines,
the produce of the olive fail
and the fields yield no food,
the flock be cut off from the fold
and there be no herd in the stalls,
yet I will rejoice in the Lord;
I will take joy in the God of my salvation.
Two thousand and some years ago, Jesus hung out with seemingly hopeless people.
Two thousand and some years ago, Jesus hung on a on a mercy tree in what seemed like a hopeless situation. He could not see beyond the grave.
Two thousand and some years ago today, Jesus followed through and rose from the grave. He became the hope for those hopeless people. Hope in Him did not disappoint.
After some time, I realized that I probably might not get what I asked for. I was having a disciple experience. Jesus did not grant James and John what they had expected. He was and is not my Vending Machine God. Any Lent sacrifices were not going to be payment in exchange for my requests. But, I could not give up.
I didn’t give up on this fast remembering that He didn’t give up on me. I had to continue this in response to His love for and His solidarity with me. James, John, Peter and the gang didn’t get it but Christ stuck it out with them. Though I don’t always hear His responses, I know He is sticking out with me. Forty days were not going to solve my problems but they drew my heart to remember His own heart.