Wrapping It All Up

This post has been a little delayed, and for that I apologize. I broke fast this past Sunday, Palm Sunday, after my 40 days of fasting for Lent. The delay has been, in part, because I’m actually still doing interviews about the whole endeavor.  Which is such an amazing thing. When I set out to do this, a part of it was trying to engage people in a dialogue about faith and spirituality.  In all modesty, I was reasonably expecting to have my story heard by tens of thousands of people. That might sound like a lot, but at this point, that number is easily over a million. Maybe even millions. And while there is a part of me that gets a bit of a goofy grin thinking about that, the reality is, that was all heaven sent blessing.

This is me

I actually had to get headshots for news agencies to use. So strange….

So, in terms of wrapping up, let’s start from the top:

What God said (seriously)

I honestly believe God still speaks to people. Rarely in an audible voice, but I have no doubt I’ve had God “speak” to me. Before you think the lack of food turned something, let me be clear: God speaks through the Bible, when you read a particularly poginant verse that speaks directly into your life; God speaks through other people, through words of encouragement or rebuke, but in a way that cuts so deeply you know it was super-natural; God speaks even through “feelings”, a sense of peace, or a sense of joy, etc.

So here are the two things God said to me

“Well done, good and faithful servant.” The parable of the servants and the landlord embedded itself deeply into my spirit. In brief, this is a parable Jesus told, about a land owner who went away, and left parts of his fortune in the hands of three servants to manage in his absence.  Two of them used the wealth and invested it, earning returns for the landlord. The third was afraid, and simply hid the wealth, protecting it, for fear of the fierce and scary boss. The two who took the risk were rewarded, and the landlord called them “good and faithful servants”. The third was rebuked for his fear. When my story began to gain traction, I got a real sense that while there was some fun that came with the notoriety, there was a huge responsibility. I had made myself available to God to share my faith with people. God gave me a certain amount of “wealth” (grace and exposure in this case). And it was up to me to “invest” it well. So I did every interview that came my way. I woke up early, stayed up late, and at one point did 13 or 14 phone interviews in one day. It was exhausting. It got in the way of doing other things. But I had a real sense that I had to hold up my end of the deal. So I did. And I nearly audibly heard God, through reading the Bible, say “Well done, good and faithful servant” to me. And that’s a good feeling.

On the other hand, he also said “I meant that stuff about fasting out loud“. Don’t get me wrong, I don’t think for a second I did something wrong, or else that God is in any way disappointed, but even though I was doing everything in my power to not be like the Pharisees Jesus spoke about, there was no avoiding it. My main “reward” in this whole thing was the exposure. True, I was directing that exposure to God, and I also did gain wonderful personal spiritual insights. But still. Exposure ended up being the big “thing”, and in my case, it wasn’t necessarily bad.

Once I hit that week where I was constantly on the phone, or in front of cameras, my ability to spend any serious energy on personal reflection dropped to almost nil. Writing about my experiences seemed to be the best way for me to sort through what was happening, and I had nearly no time to do it. I am well aware that if I had been doing this “quietly”, I would have reached much deeper depths of insight. Perhaps my prayer and study life would have expanded. But as it was, my “reward” was exposure. Just like the Pharisees. True, I wasn’t using it to look good or try to gain personal accolades. But sharing this story of living in a way that my faith permeates my whole existence was the big “take”.

Interestingly enough, both these things mean I’ll keep on going in the vein I have been. I will continue to use every opportunity that comes my way to talk about how faith doesn’t have to be this restrictive thing you do occasionally and hide away. That Christianity isn’t the sole property of the Westboro Baptist types, or the other fringe people who make the most noise. And that God likes beer, and likes it when we enjoy it as one of the many blessing in our lives. I’ll also keep using food fasting as part of my spiritual discipline. Maybe even for 40 days again, one day. But I love this sense of using it as a way to check in with yourself. maybe choosing to go 7-10 days without food, prayerfully considering where I’m at for the first few days, then spending the remaining days directing my energy into drawing closer to where I think I should be.

What Other People Said

First off let me be honest and say that comments on English news sites were generally mostly not supportive. I don’t really care, but I do find it interesting that the comments I could glean from French, German, Dutch, Portuguese/Brazilian and one Africaans sites were nearly all supportive or at least humorous.  But in North America, we still have this incredibly deep prohibitionist culture, that assumes drinking anything more than an occasional drink makes you a problem drinker. That a person who drinks a reasonable amount before driving is a menace. Even though I was aware of this reality, I was still surprised at just how many people felt this way. It helps me to understand why we can still have such insane liquor laws in Ontario.

The good news is, the people who’s opinions I actually care about, all were very supportive. From friends and family, to people I only know online and even just people arriving at my blog and commenting or messaging me on twitter or facebook, everybody offered support, asked questions that made me realize they were actually paying attention to what I was saying, and encouraged me over the last few difficult days. I honestly can’t say just how much that support meant to me.

What I’m Saying

Thank you thank you thank you. If you’re reading this, I’m talking to you.

I learned a lot about about myself. The stuff I talk about in my Half Way There post about self-control is all totally true. I would suggest you check it out! But I also learned about how these things work (at least for me). Let me explain:

In the fairly evangelical tradition I come out of, doing something like this would generally include talking lots about depending on God for strength and support. Like, most of the discussion would have been about that. If you’ve seen the wonderful movie Saved, you’ll have the idea (and if you haven’t seen it, do).

Make no mistake, there were times where I was depending wholly on God, and was given nothing short of super-natural strength to focus my energy on God, and not eat food. It didn’t happen often, but it did happen. More than that, I found that I was depending on friends and family a lot. And I was aware that God was teaching me in this, as I generally like to do things for myself. From reaching out to people asking for prayer and support, to letting people do things for me, even if I thought I could probably do it myself, I let myself lean on people in my life more often than I usually would.

But the truth of the matter is, most of the time, the success of my fast was because I did the hard work of just not eating, and focusing on the blessings in my life, or blessing others. Yes, I can do this because God has blessed me with a strong spirit and a solid spiritual upbringing, but there is no denying that it was a lot of hard effort. In my earlier understanding of faith and this type of thing, I would have been very uncomfortable with saying that, but I am totally sure it’s true. If one undertakes a spiritual discipline like this, you stake a claim to the blessing and support of God. But in so doing, you are willingly agreeing to do the really hard work.

When King David was anointed as a young teen, to be King of Israel, he didn’t get handed the keys to the palace and a lowered chariot with ground effects. He went back to work as a shepherd. He then became a servant to the current king, became an outlaw on the run, and had to struggle not only for his kingship, but just for his life. And even when he became the King, he was required to put in the hard work of being King. And he didn’t always get it right. Yes there were times of super-natural clarity and blessing, but there were decades of just doing the right thing. And that’s what is required of everybody who claims Jesus as saviour. We don’t just get our ticket punched and float through the rest of our lives. We are required to do the hard work of day to day living in a way that reflects the goodness of God, often by our own strength. When we pray in the Lord’s Prayer “your kingdom come, on Earth as it is in heaven”, this isn’t some wishful thinking that one day God will pull out his smiting wand and blast some bad folks then whip out his blessing stick and sprout daisies and chocolate trees. It’s saying that we will do everything in our power (and sometimes more than what’s in our power) to try to shape the Earth to look more like heaven.

Sometimes this happens miraculously, but most often, it happens because people submit themselves to very hard work. And that is something I knew in my mind, but learned in practice through these 40 days.

Hey did I mention this: “thank you so so much”? Because, honestly, if you’re still reading this post, I can’t say enough how appreciative I am. Even if you disagree or think I’m a bit nuts, I did this to help people understand where I’m coming from. And hopefully, you have a better picture of me, and maybe, just maybe, I’ve helped you see that Christians can be “normal”(ish) folks.

Have a blessed Easter.

3 Comments

  1. L
    Posted April 19, 2014 at 3:26 pm | Permalink

    Praise the Lord! You completed what He laid on your heart to do.
    How are you feeling physically? Did the fast have any effect on your health or weight?

  2. Cheryl
    Posted April 19, 2014 at 6:25 pm | Permalink

    You are one authentic dude. Very compelling post.

  3. Erika
    Posted April 25, 2014 at 2:04 pm | Permalink

    Proud of you.

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