Monday, April 21, 2014

On Fasting

We just came out of a three week fast that our whole church body took part in together, beginning on March 30th and ending on Easter Sunday (yesterday). The Lord really showed me some, I believe, life changing things during this fast and Shaun and I got to share some of this in church on April 13th, (you can click here to listen to our message... what I'm about to share here comes into the message around the 18 minute mark)

Ok, so jumping right in.... There are three distinct parts to who we are as a human being. I never understood the difference before just recently, so I apologize if you already know this, but maybe it will be revolutionary to someone else like it was to me. The diagram below is the most simplified version I could find.

K, so basically the first part of who you are is your physical body, the second part is your soul (which is made up of your mind, will, and emotions) and the third part is your spirit. Your spirit is the part of you which is possessed, or inhabited, by the Holy Spirit when you become a believer. Some verses to check out on this would be 1 Thesselonians 5:23 and Hebrews 4:12. 

When we fast we are taking our spirit (which is inhabited by the Holy Spirit if you believe Jesus Christ is the Son of God) and setting it in charge over an area of our life that it is not normally in charge of. Example: If you are fasting in the area of food you are taking control away from your body and giving it to your spirit. If you are fasting something like a tv show, social media, certain behaviors in relationships etc. you are taking control away from your soul and giving it to your spirit. 

So the three things the Lord showed me on fasting have to do with the difficulty in fasting, the purpose in fasting, and the joy in fasting. 

The difficulty in fasting comes because of the power struggle between our body and soul and our spirit.  In previous fasts it was extremely easy for me to choose to fast, then complain about it the whole time. This just goes to show me that while my spirit was on board with the fast, the rest of me was having a hard time getting in line and following along. 

The purpose in fasting is to strengthen your spirit, or enlarge its territory in your life. The analogy the Lord gave me was that if lifting weights is one way to make your body strong, then fasting is one way to make your spirit strong. (There are obviously other ways as well, like worship, spending time in prayer or in the Word, etc.) As you purposely set your spirit in charge of areas of your life that have not previously been under its authority, you are increasing the realm of your life that is being governed by your spirit. You also grow closer to the Lord during a fast, and I never understood the correlation before this fast. I felt like the Lord showed me that when you fast you are taking yourself off of "autopilot" so to speak and fully engaging your spirit... Your spirit is forced to be on the alert, ready and awake and constantly on guard during a fast. When your spirit is forced to be vigilant in this way you can't really help but be more spiritually aware... whether it's hearing the voice of the Lord more clearly or having discernment in situations going on in your life. When your spirit is engaged 24/7, you automatically are spending more time tuned into the Father's heart. When you end your fast, your spirit might be totally out of breath and more than ready to surrender power back to your body or soul... but it has gained "muscle", and the next time you fast it will be easier. Just like lifting weights. 

The last part of what God showed me through this recent fast is where the joy in fasting comes from. I actually felt for the first time during fasting this incredible joy this time, and it was because I felt like I was actually in charge of myself. As I dug deeper into why I was feeling this way the Lord took me to Jeremiah 17:9 "Above all the heart is deceitful..." And also to Romans 12, specifically the verse on renewing our minds. As I thought through this I realized that when I became saved and gave my life to the Lord, surrendering my spirit to Him, it was finally someone who I could actually trust who was in charge of me. My spirit, when inhabited by the Holy Spirit, is the truest part of me. The redeemed, sanctified, resurrected me. My God is good, and He has good plans for me. Therefore if I trust His spirit inside of me to govern my life, it finally feels like the "me" I was made to be is in charge. After all... my heart is deceitful. And my spirit is supposed to take captive every thought that enters my mind. An awesome quote that I recently heard is "Whatever I renew my mind with, I will be transformed to." So, so true. And there is unlimited JOY to be found in being completely submitted to the Holy Spirit... Just another amazing paradox of the life we created to live... It is in submission to the Holy Spirit that true freedom is found. 

There are changes we made during our fast that I am actually going to continue on with even now that the fast is "over." I am looking forward to sharing more on what we fasted and how we are going to carry on with some of the changes another time :) 

Disclaimer: I may or may not have broken the fast on Easter morning with a peanut butter egg... My spirit was feeling a little tired after three weeks of saying no to my body... ;) But after a full day of rest I think my spirit's gearing back up to take over again. :) 

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