23 Mar Preparing for Easter Through Fasting?
As we approach the “spring cleaning” and Easter season, I was thinking about how to “clean out” my heart and mind for Easter. It’s easy to get so busy with getting the house and food ready that we can miss getting our minds and hearts in a place to worship the Author of life who died for our sins…Jesus! I am so thankful for Easter weekend! Good Friday was only “good” for us so that our sins could be forgiven. Jesus’ death on the cross on Good Friday is a humbling, sober reminder of our sinful status before we are “in Christ” (Romans 8). I think I’ve cried every year of my adult life at Good Friday church services, and my kids don’t take kindly to celebrating the resurrection of Easter without including the full story of the cross. My oldest daughter emphatically asks, “How could we possibly celebrate Easter if we haven’t sat in the truth of what happened on Good Friday at the cross?!” I would have to agree that if we don’t consider the cross and our part in sending Jesus there, we are not seeing the pain before the glory. I’m deeply thankful that we can look to “Jesus the founder and perfecter of our faith, who for the joy that was set before him endured the cross, despising the shame, and is seated at the right hand of the throne of God,” (Heb. 12:2) How in the world did He have joy set before Him as He was going to the cross>> He spent time with the Father in a beautiful Garden asking for any other way for us to get saved…but if not, Thy will be done. That’s how I can prepare myself for Easter! Spending time with the Father in prayer and His Word, asking for His will not mine. The ultimate place of humility is to align ourselves with God’s will, no matter what that looks like. In order to do that we need to remove the clutter of our lives, which is referred to as fasting, or in some traditions Lent.
Historically, Lent has been honored by certain traditions as it symbolizes Christ’s fast and journey into the desert for 40 days. For me, it’s less about the time and customs in the Lent season, but more about taking time to read the Gospels (Matthew, Mark, Luke, John), think about ways we can make sacrifices (food, technology, social media, serving) and clearing out the distractions all around us. What are the things in the way of our time and relationship with Jesus? Pray and be willing to remove some of those things and replace them with prayer, Bible reading, journaling, worship, and serving others.
I have a sign in my bedroom that says “Bind my wandering heart to Thee” from a famous hymn called “Come Thou Fount”(see lyrics below). It reminds me to ask myself what unbinds my thoughts and actions from Jesus? What can I “fast” from for days, weeks, months, or forever that make my heart wander? If we are willing to ask the Lord, what would he say? Sins, bad habits, fear, control, bitterness, unhealthy comparing, lying, anger, gossip, lust, too much technology, social media, food, or alcohol? We all have something that would be helpful to give up, and I want to encourage you to take that step so that you can connect with the God who allowed for Easter to be celebrated!
As a personal example, over the last several months I’ve explored fasting from foods, technology, and comparing. Currently I’m fasting from complaining, so I can spend this time reflecting on all the blessings God has given me and offering thanks to Him. This can be something you do as a family too, as everyone picks something they want to fast from. The main purpose of fasting is that when we become more dependent on someone or something other than God, we can stop and reprioritize Him to the center of our life. Let’s do some “spring cleaning,” then celebrate the true greatness of Easter and share it with others!
“Come Thou Fount”
By Robert Robinson, 18th Century hymn
Come, Thou Fount of every blessing,
Tune my heart to sing Thy grace;
Streams of mercy, never ceasing,
Call for songs of loudest praise.
Teach me some melodious sonnet,
Sung by flaming tongues above.
Praise the mount, I’m fixed upon it,
Mount of Thy redeeming love.
Sorrowing I shall be in spirit,
Till released from flesh and sin,
Yet from what I do inherit,
Here Thy praises I’ll begin;
Here I raise my Ebenezer;
Here by Thy great help I’ve come;
And I hope, by Thy good pleasure,
Safely to arrive at home.
Jesus sought me when a stranger,
Wandering from the fold of God;
He, to rescue me from danger,
Interposed His precious blood;
How His kindness yet pursues me
Mortal tongue can never tell,
Clothed in flesh, till death shall loose me
I cannot proclaim it well.
O to grace how great a debtor
Daily I’m constrained to be!
Let Thy goodness, like a fetter,
Bind my wandering heart to Thee.
Prone to wander, Lord, I feel it,
Prone to leave the God I love;
Here’s my heart, O take and seal it,
Seal it for Thy courts above.
O that day when freed from sinning,
I shall see Thy lovely face;
Clothèd then in blood washed linen
How I’ll sing Thy sovereign grace;
Come, my Lord, no longer tarry,
Take my ransomed soul away;
Send thine angels now to carry
Me to realms of endless day.
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