#1. If at first you don’t succeed try try again
I have all these words trapped in my head. Here we are, March fourth (or as my dad likes to say, “March forth!”) and I haven’t blogged on any of the daily pages yet. I just have barely had the time to sit down and try to write anything! I’ve been reading, thinking, praying, but I’ve not quite made it to writing. And today, I absentmindedly added sugar to my tea.
There are a few ways I could go with this, I could go the legalistic way and feel ashamed over a spoonful of sugar I didn’t realize I added until it was done, and I could berate myself about not blogging through each daily reading and reflection prompt, as I had planned.
I could go to the all-or-nothing route and say “Forget it! I tried, and fasting didn’t work, and blogging isn’t working, so I’m giving up.”
I could go the hiding route and say “no one needs to know if I made a mistake in my fast, but while I’m at it I’ll have some M&Ms too and then I’ll be back on track.”
Or I could just be honest with myself, laugh at my habit creeping in, and drink the silly tea anyway, because one spoonful of sugar does not make me any less in God’s eyes. That is the route I took. Shame, self-loathing, quitting, and sneaking are not part of God’s design for me. Grace and laughter are. That is what I choose. I slipped up, and I am going to just keep on going. God never expected us to be perfect, but he does invite us to keep running toward him.

#2. The meaning of Matthew 6:16-18
Matthew 6:16-18 days this:
“And when you fast, do not look gloomy like the hypocrites, for they disfigure their faces that their fasting may be seen by others. Truly, I say to you, they have received their reward. But when you fast, anoint your head and wash your face, that your fasting may not be seen by others but by your Father who is in secret. And your Father who sees in secret will reward you.”
So, in light of this verse, you might ask, why am I even blogging about fasting? Isn’t that like what Jesus warns the people against? Here is how I interpret this verse in a modern context.
The hypocrites spoken of here were fasting for recognition of man, so people would think they were so holy, and they made their appearance such that everyone knew. What I am doing is different, because I am not applauding myself to you, I am writing to invite you in, and I am trying to be honest as I do it. I follow what I feel is the heart of this verse by doing these kind of things:
– at a birthday party, politely decline cake with a simple “no, thank you” rather than saying, “Oh no! I am fasting! I can’t have cake!!”
– at lunch with friends, just say no thanks to the soda and cookies I am offered, and a big thanks for the sandwich.
– not talking to my general acquaintance about what I am doing, unless they happen to ask.
It means, just live. Don’t make a big deal about it, but I don’t think I have to hide it either, for fear that if anyone else know, God won’t answer my prayers.

#3. Facing the test
Today was my first real challenge in this fasting thing. Not for the food part, but when I got frustrated with something and wanted to go run to one of my crutches instead of running to God. Why do we fast? One reason is to remind us to turn to God because we need him more than anything. That is why turning away from coping mechanisms can sometimes be more effective than just following some preset list of foods or whatever that someone else makes.

So, there’s a random little collection of thoughts about this Month of Dedication so far. I hope it is going well for you, that you are turning to God and enjoying it, and hearing from Him about some of those troublesome areas in your life. He is always there, inviting, listening, loving, and cheering us on.

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