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Here's a little, but wait, there is more...

My frequent and ongoing struggle to keep weight off my body has me investigating how to keep my metabolism moving right along so I can burn the calories I put in. I have discovered fasting from a meal or two a day on occasion actually helps me to keep weight off. It isn't that I am starving myself, as I have reserves! I am just asking my body to use what it already has and not to demand what it doesn't actually need! The term "fast" has a couple of meanings, but when we use it to describe a condition of heart, mind, and soul which abstains from something in order to focus on another, we call it "fasting". There are all kinds of fasts - some from food, others from input of various forms of media, or perhaps from a special treat we enjoy. The season just before Easter is called Lent and is considered by some churches to be a season of temporary "fasting" - giving up something in order to get a little closer to God during that season. I wonder if we really have considered the kind of "fast" God is really after in our lives? It may be he is after what is keeping our heart captive and our mind focused on things that just deter us from our time with him.

"This is the kind of fast day I'm after: to break the chains of injustice, get rid of exploitation in the workplace, free the oppressed, cancel debts. What I'm interested in seeing you do is: sharing your food with the hungry, inviting the homeless poor into your homes, putting clothes on the shivering ill-clad, being available to your own families. Do this and the lights will turn on, and your lives will turn around at once. Your righteousness will pave your way. The God of glory will secure your passage. Then when you pray, God will answer. You'll call out for help and I'll say, 'Here I am.' (Isaiah 58:6-9)

We focus on what we "give up" when God seems to focus on what we "do" with the time we set aside for HIS use. It is more to him a matter of us being willing to be available to do things WITH him instead of always being so willing to do them without him! God's primary purpose of asking for our "focus" is for him to "tune us into" the various needs which exist around us and sometimes within us. Sometimes we get so wrapped up in our own lives, we miss the apparent needs all around us. We all have something to share - yet we often don't think of the impact our action of withholding what we have at our access is to those around us! There are just times when we need to get things in order within our lives, then share how God transforms lives just as he has transformed us in those areas. Others need to learn from what we have learned. We need to be mentors in our faith.

Sharing food with the hungry can be both in the literal and spiritual sense. We almost always have the ability to share food with the hungry in the natural sense. For the majority of us, we have cupboards with extra stuff on the shelf that could meet the needs of another who is hungering for a good meal. We have the ability to give out of our "abundance" most of the time, don't we? The truth of the matter is that God also asks for us to give out of more than our abundance - simply because giving out of abundance does not cost us much! When we stop long enough to share something from a spiritual "shelf" within our lives, we are giving as God would have us give. The physical food is good - the spiritual food just "ices the cake"! We may not feel anyone would benefit from what we could share in a spiritual sense, but the opposite is quite true. I have learned some of the most profound lessons from those who thought their 'simple' learning experiences couldn't benefit anyone else! You just never know when what you have to give - even when you think it is 'too simple' to matter to anyone else - will touch the lives of those who have been hungering for that in their own lives.

Inviting the poor into your homes is a touchy subject for some, I know. We are very protective of our "space", aren't we? Guess what? You can become proficient in 'opening your home' in a very practical sense by being willing to open your heart doors to the spiritually poor first! Then you will begin to identify ways to open your doors to the physically poor later! Our willingness to meet the needs of others is one of the ways we grow in our faith. Being open to share from your heart is probably one of the biggest steps we each take in this walk of faith. We like our facades, don't we? Get real with others and you might just see how much 'good stuff' is on the shelves of your 'heart pantry' that others can actually find hope in! Put clothes of the ill-clad. We don't find it hard to part with the clothes we no longer want to wear, but have you ever given something which was your very favorite? It costs you something different, huh? In the giving of this simple gift, much is accomplished because you have shared a part of yourself that you actually enjoy!

Be available to your own families - why does God actually need to tell us this? There are times when we become so wrapped up in meeting the needs of others, we neglect our own. I think God is giving us a little "process check" here. He reminds us of the need to cultivate our own fields. Cultivated fields grow much richer crops than those which have been neglected by the passage of time and attention! We have much to "give" from within our lives , but did you ever consider what you give as a matter of "fasting"? Well, if you consider your "fast" in light of what God said about the 'fast' these many years ago, you just might find it easier to 'fast' than you ever did before! Just sayin!


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