BY KYLE KINER
The first time I ever fasted from food I was a college student in Oklahoma City. I was challenged by our campus minister to consider a 24 hour fast for spiritual growth. The challenge for me was that I was also a waiter at TGI Fridays. Taking on the fast meant that I would then have to wait tables for two shifts while not eating. I made the commitment to fast and only drink water.
At first this seemed like something I would dread and struggle with that night. However, what I did not realize was the spiritual dimension the fast would take. As I began my shift waiting tables, I kept drinking water. I also focused on serving my customers. I did not really focus on the food right in front of me.
I remember that halfway thru my shift I was doing pretty good. I was sustained in the fast. The grace of God carried me thru the challenge with strength and focus. I learned that I could make it without food. My faith grew in that time.
As Christians, this week we begin the journey of Lent. Lent is the 40 day period leading up to Easter. Lent is a time of fasting and repentance.
We take 40 days to fast from something that is in excess in our lives. Many people give up pop or chocolate. Some people even take a fast from social media or apps on their phone. Often when some people give something up, they also take something on, like more prayer or scripture reading. Those actions of giving up and taking on allow us to draw closer to God. In considering what I need to fast from, I usually ask myself to think of something that would be sacrifice to the Lord. That sacrifice would allow me to focus more on Jesus.
My favorite scripture passage for this time of Lent is Psalm 51. In this Psalm, King David is repenting for his selfish actions that led to his abuse of power. David was consumed by the coveting of a married woman. The prophet called David into account for his actions. Psalm 51 is David’s heart felt action of repentance.
David says, “Do not cast me away from your presence, O Lord! Take not your Holy Spirit from me. Restore to me the joy of your salvation.” David sought the Lord’s forgiveness and he was given a second chance. The joy was restored to him!
Lent is about seeking the Lord’s forgiveness. Do you need forgiveness in your life? Do you need a fresh start? I certainly know that I frequently need to ask for God to forgive me. I get so caught up in my selfishness and my anger and my greed.
The good news is that I am forgiven and set free. Jesus does make that possible. Jesus continues to free me from the sin that clings so closely. I take those moments of fasting and realize that God’s grace is enough to sustain me and strengthen me.
Join me in these 40 days of Lent. After fasting and repenting, celebrating the Resurrection of Jesus on Easter Sunday allows us to be fully set free!