We were all set to make an afternoon snack. Since it was child friendly I also declared that this would be their craft/art project for the day. The instructions were clear. Wash the apple, cut them into quarters, wedge them on the skin side and core the flesh out. And then the final instruction on how to put the marshmallows on the almond buttered surface.
There was excitement and high energy all around the table. The little faces were all lit as they saw mommy’s finished project. Their quarters were handed to them with child safe knives.
There was a problem. While working with the fruit, my children, by virtue of being my children lacked some important fruits of the spirit that day. They lacked patience and the faithfulness, (give and take age appropriateness) to stick to the instruction. Instead of making a wedge on the skin side, they made a slit. Instead of cutting and coring out the flesh, they hardly sliced out from their slit. They stuffed their marshmallows in there and devoured their treat in no time!
The smile-apple project almost looked to me like a sneer-apple project! That was no threat though, to their hungry tummies.
Strangely, it was, to my hungry soul and fasting stomach!
I had been learning the meaning of true fasting and I had landed in Isaiah 58, where God tells the people of Israel about the fasting that He delights in. There is a peculiar people God is speaking to, here.
*Apparently, they knew God and are very religious.
*They got to church every day and sought Him continually.
* They wanted to know God’s ways.
*They delighted in God’s ways.
*They asked God for God’s will in all matters and seemed very eager to draw near to God.
Seems to me like true believers having the right heart and doing the right things. And oh, they are also people who fast and humble themselves, periodically!
After doing all that to please God and to put a smile on God’s face, they were surprised that God was not impressed or did not even notice their fasting. Instead, their acts of humility and the insignificant slits they made on their soul almost produced a sneer on God’s face.
Are we making slits or cuts, as we fast?
God revealed to the people that day that they were hardly even slitting their souls on the day they called fasting.
*They apparently did everything they found pleasure in, on their fasting day. Go without food, but maybe hangout by Starbucks with friends, get something to drink, listen to music, stay plugged in, read/ watch something, take a nap, somehow get to the end of the day!
*They were focused on their benefit and gave a hard time to everyone under them on the day of their fast.( An empty stomach can really make you demanding and angry). They really thought they were entitled to everyone’s best. Everyone around them had to pitch in and help them, because… they were fasting!
*They fight and they quarrel to get their way on the day of their fast. There is no change in the attitudes they gave, most days they fasted, they ended up fighting or in conflict with someone.
* They did all the above and still went through all the motions of fasting- starving, praying, and humbling themselves.
At the end of the day God asks them,
And…This is what you call fasting?
God goes on to explain to them the kind of fasting that He expects.
(Continued in Part 2)