A few times a year, I like to go on a fast. The fast could be for several days or several weeks. I fast various things: food, tea, chocolate, television, you name it, it might be in there. This year before Easter, I decided to fast for several weeks. A few things I usually notice when I fast became more prominent this year.
For starters, fasting sometimes can be compared to dieting psychologically. You don’t really think you are that attached to something in your life, and then Boom! You tell yourself you are going to go without it, and it seems to be the only thing that you really want. This phenomenon usually goes along with the fasting.
The first thing I noticed was that I indulge myself. If I want a cup of tea, I make it. If I want a cookie, I eat it. If I want to watch a television program, I turn on the TV and watch it. I don’t normally think of it as Self-indulgence, but when I stop doing it, my Self is not happy.
My Self wants to be catered to. It wants what it wants and it wants it now. It doesn’t like to be told “No.” It wants to be a little god and sit on the throne of my life calling all of the shots. It is strong and it is powerful and it is not easily dissuaded. If I want to kick it off the throne, it is going to take some deliberate effort and some discipline.
When I fast, I fast for different reasons. It could be to get God’s attention on a subject or it could be to get a prayer answered. This year I wanted to draw closer to the Lord. That sounds like something positive to do, but my Self, the carnal part of my nature, doesn’t like it. It wants to be in charge of my life and it doesn’t want to give an inch. This battle can go on daily and even hourly when I fast.
I have never been successful on a fast in my own strength. The only way I have managed to give up something for a while is that I was able to do it in the strength the Lord gave me. When He was in charge, i.e. sitting on the throne of my life, I was able to continue the fast. I was able to put Self in its proper place.
The biggest takeaway I learned this year was that this god of Self is real. If I don’t want Self to be in charge of my life, I am going to have to quit indulging it so much. I am going to have to be aware of it daily and make an intentional decision to not allow it to call all of the shots in my life. Jesus said, “If anyone desires to come after me, let him deny himself, and take up his cross and follow me.”
The ultimate question for me is, “Which god will I follow…the god of Self or the God I want to follow, the Lord Jesus Christ?”