Fasting: Part 2
So whether you eat or drink, or whatever you do, do it all for the glory of God.
1 Corinthians 10:31
If I could fast forever and not die I would. Honestly.
I mean, don’t get me wrong, over the past few years I’ve become a total foodie. I love food. I love cooking it. I love the act of chewing it. And I love the taste of it; but all of that pales in comparison to the closeness I felt with God during my fast, a closeness I desire to have at all times, a closeness that, for whatever reason, is lacking when I’m having three meals a day. Perhaps it all boils down to how fervently we seek God when we are in want. And when you are hungry, you are in want.
But you and I cannot fast forever. We must learn what it is to 1. Have that closeness with the Lord on a daily basis and 2. Honor God with our bodies by the foods we choose to put inside of them.
At the time when I was preparing to do the fast, I began reading the Old Testament again. I don’t think it’s a coincidence that what kept sticking out to me were different portions of scripture where God gave commandments regarding food.
I find it fascinating that the very first sin involved food. Here Adam and Eve were, in a garden surrounded by food. Food they didn’t have to work for. Food that was readily available. I doubt Eve was even remotely hungry when the serpent approached and convinced her she was somehow being deprived. And she caved. Yes, he tempted her with much more than just food, but what she and Adam ultimately gave up just for that one bite of food was, well…everything.
I also find it interesting that there are many other places in the Bible where God told certain people not to eat certain things. God’s food restrictions for His people weren’t always general 10 Commandment rules for everyone to follow…sometimes they were instructions only for some.
- In Leviticus 11 the Lord told Moses and Aaron what foods they and the rest of the Israelites were to abstain from.
- Deuteronomy 14:1-21 also lists these food restrictions.
- In Numbers 6 God instructed the Nazirites to not drink wine or other alcoholic drinks, grape juice, or eat grapes or raisins for a certain period of time (in verse 20 He tells them when they can have it again, after a ceremony).
- John the Baptist lived off of a diet consisting of locusts and honey[i]. He didn’t eat bread, and he didn’t drink wine.[ii]
- At one time in scripture, Daniel lived off of only vegetables and water[iii], and at another time he stopped eating meat, wine, and other “rich foods[iv]” which many scholars believe to have been “pleasant bread.” He also used no lotions, which makes sense as your skin is the biggest organ in the body and absorbs nutrients similarly to when we ingest them…but that’s another blog for another time. ;)
There are many other examples of dietary restrictions for certain followers of God, but my point is this: God cares about what we eat. It matters to Him. 1 Corinthians 6:19 says:
“Do you not know that your bodies are temples of the Holy Spirit, who is in you, whom you have received from God? You are not your own; you were bought at a price. Therefore honor God with your bodies.”
Though I’m familiar with many New Testament scriptures deeming all foods clean and permissible, specifically what Jesus said as recorded in Mark 7:14-23, Paul’s account in Romans 14:14-21 is interesting. I’ve highlighted the portions that stick out to me the most:
I am convinced, being fully persuaded in the Lord Jesus, that nothing is unclean in itself. But if anyone regards something as unclean, then for that person it is unclean. If your brother or sister is distressed because of what you eat, you are no longer acting in love. Do not by your eating destroy someone for whom Christ died… For the kingdom of God is not a matter of eating and drinking, but of righteousness, peace and joy in the Holy Spirit,…Let us therefore make every effort to do what leads to peace and to mutual edification. Do not destroy the work of God for the sake of food. All food is clean, but it is wrong for a person to eat anything that causes someone else to stumble. It is better not to eat meat or drink wine or to do anything else that will cause your brother or sister to fall.
This speaks volumes about the way we are to respect food, not just to be careful when eating food in front of others who can’t have it, but also in determining what’s unclean to us. I’m learning that we may get our specifications for “unclean” from Leviticus or Daniel, or we may get those specifications from an allergy test, a doctor, or our own personal experience with that food.
So that’s where I am. I’ve come to the tough conclusion that there are certain foods that are unclean for me. They’re unclean for me, frankly, because they make me sick. When I have dairy I get a sinus infection – like clockwork. When I have gluten, I have intestinal inflammation. The same can sometimes go for non-gluten grains and sugar, so I have to be very careful and eat these foods in very strict moderation and, at times (especially when under stress), completely eliminate them from my diet.
I’m writing about this because this is not easy. It is very hard to adhere to this diet. But fasting taught me something: I can do anything if I’m doing it for God. Before and after my extended fast, those 3-day juice fasts or bone broth fasts for health or fitness purposes and it were extremely hard. But, somehow, a water fast for 14 days to honor and obey God was a lot easier. Don’t get me wrong, it wasn’t a breeze but it was possible because I was able to do it by the strength and grace of God and God alone.
So here’s my challenge to my readers today:
Maybe you need to do a fast, to reset your spiritual life, your mental stability, or your spiritual well-being…or even all three. Maybe you need to start obeying God by abstaining from some foods that you know aren’t good for you, be it because of an allergy or intolerance, or some other health reasons. Maybe you need to learn more about moderation. Maybe you should be eating more. Maybe you should be eating less. I believe fasting can help that. I believe Whole30, the Daniel Fast, or other plant-based diets for a time can also help that.
Here’s the kicker for me: God loves me and doesn’t like to see me sick. He wants to use my life for His purposes but I’m not much good if I’m laid up in bed with stomach cramps, indigestion, fatigue, and headaches. But more so than not being “equipped for service,” that’s just simply no way to live. So perhaps finding the art of obedience in the area of food is a much better alternative.
[i] Matthew 3:4
[ii] Luke 7:33-34
[iii] Daniel 1:8-15
[iv] Daniel 10:2-3