Last Friday evening, Nancy and I went to an open house reception for a former Caleb Project colleague who is now married and heading to Eastern Europe to minister. We had a wonderful time catching up with Joel and Keturah and Joel’s sister, also a former colleague, and husband, Tanya and Dallas. As we were leaving, we laughed because we realized that we had been so engaged in conversation during the couple hours that we were there that we never passed beyond the house’s entry area. Old friends are a special blessing!
As we were preparing to leave, Joel asked me one final question. He has been thinking about fasting and remembered that fasting was a regular spiritual discipline for me when we worked together. God has blessed me through fasting. Following the examples of Bill Bright and other godly leaders, I have often engaged in fasts that have lasted several days and once completed a 40 day fast. However, my primary experience with fasting was a three decade-long one-day-a-week fast. I started that discipline when in my early 20’s and continued until my early 50’s. I did not start with the idea that I would continue forever. My intent was to continue the discipline until God told me to stop.
A couple years after moving to Spokane, I quietly sensed in my spirit that it was time to discontinue the weekly fast. At the time, I did not know why. I just sensed that I did not need to continue that discipline any longer. However, Joel’s question caused me to reflect. Looking back, I realize that my life was full of people and organizational pressure during the 30 years that I fasted weekly. However, my life in Spokane has been more relaxed. I have had less organizational responsibility and fewer people in my life. Therefore, my need for disciplined time in fasting and solitude has decreased. I suppose that is why God released me from that discipline.
After further reflection, I realized that physical exercise has replaced fasting in my weekly rhythm. Soon after I stopped fasting, I felt the Lord urging me to begin working out more. During the past couple years, I have engaged in more rigorous exercise than I have since I played high school sports.
I believe in spiritual disciplines and that we should continually listen to the Holy Spirit as our personal trainer.