Why We Fast Meditation: The Gift of Space
Perhaps you noticed in our Scripture from Joel that God tells us to do something unusual. God tells us to “rend our hearts” (v 13). Rend is one of those strange Bible words that we don’t use very much, but it actually means, to tear, to rip open. God calls us to tear open, to rip open our hearts.
When we fast, we open our hearts up to God, we create room for God. I’m going to need some helpers with this one. Kids, would you like to come up and help me? (Sermon Illustration*).
Here is the thing about life. Most of us have all kinds of things which compete for our attention and affection. We are distracted by shiny things like this shiny sand I have here. For instance, maybe we are distracted by foods that taste really good but aren’t very healthy for us. For instance, we might be distracted by what’s on TV. Our attention is constantly drawn to our phones and to social media. Sometimes we might want to play with our friends and never do our homework. Sometimes we have activities that keep us from going to church or spending time with God or with our families. Sometimes even good things like work can take us from things that should be a higher priority.
Well, if we have all this shiny stuff in there, we don’t have room for things that really matter. (Kids will draw ping-pong balls from a brown paper bag with priorities on them including: family/friends, God, sleep, service, diet/exercise, rest/sleep, goals/growth, work).
I try to add these things to a container that already has a “shiny” sand. They do not fit.
Well, when we fast, we basically dump out all the “shiny” things of life. We dump out everything that is not a priority. We rend our hearts, we tear open our hearts to create space for God. Space in our life for what really matters.
And then, when we fast, we find that our life does have space for the things that do matter: (put ping-pong balls in the glass without sand one-by-one with the kids helping).
And here’s the thing that always amazes me. When our time of fasting is over, when Easter comes and we add back in all that shiny stuff. Not sin, but the stuff of life that isn’t a priority, but we enjoy it and want it in our lives: the videos and junk food and social media. What we often find is that with our priorities already aligned we have room for the things that are not priorities as well. (Sand is now added on top of the balls to the jar).
[Thank the children].
The second gift we are given in fasting is the gift of space. Fasting carves out space in our lives to remember what is really important.
Let us continue to worship God in song.
*Note: The basic idea for this sermon illustration came from a worship service at Allison Park Church, Pastor Jeff Leake, circa 2013.