My 40 day fast ended on Valentine’s Day. Good Friday marked 40 days after my fast.
This is what I’ve learned since eating again, including why everyone needs to use a Squatty Potty.
After the first 10 days I gained about 10-12 pounds, not because I was over-eating, but because my body held onto every calorie. My weight now ranges between 169 and 175 pounds, depending on how much popcorn I eat at night. I love my new waist size; I haven’t been this weight since my sophomore year in high school! (I know what you’re thinking: “He’s going to gain it all back!” Stop it. Stop it now!) Read on….
Here are a few dietary changes I’ve made:
Coffee: In my daily grind I used to put 5 or 6 teaspoons of sugar along with cream which added about 400-500 calories a day to my diet. A friend of mine, a coffee snob, was aghast that I put so much junk in my coffee. “It’s a bitter drink sipped slow,” he would remind me. I now drink my coffee black. (And I’m much more wired.) Yes, stay away.
Meals: I’m trying to eat less meat, (though I do love it), but realize it’s healthier to eat less. I eat pretty much the same thing every day because I want to: Yogurt, fresh berries and granola for breakfast and a salad almost every lunch, a huge salad, with lots of vegetables, (and meat in it).
Sweets: I still love my sweets at night along with tubs o’ popcorn. I get a real sweet tooth in the evening and loooove ice cream. I eat my popcorn with an olive oil spray, Parmesan cheese and Lite salt. Though I still have days where I pile on the butter and salt. (I know, I know….)
Beverages: I’ve stopped drinking diet sodas because they can actually cause you to gain weight. (Some say no. Regardless, artificial sweeteners just ain’t good for ya, though I will put one small packet in my ice tea on occasion.)
I also don’t drink sugary colas anymore, except on rare occasions. I’ve replaced those with club soda and naturally-flavored carbonated beverages that are low in calories. Oh, yes, and water.
And coffee. (Yes, stay away.)
The unmentionable: The biggest difference is that my digestive system runs very efficiently. (Though some may think it gross, I want to be completely honest about the physical benefits I’ve derived.) In essence, my intestinal tract has been Roto-Rootered; 57 years of gunk has been cleaned out of my system.
I watched this tastefully-tasteless video during my fast, and applied the principles. Try it! But don’t take this news sitting down….
Spiritual: I’d like to say that everything has changed as a result of my 40 day fast, but I can’t. When God spoke to my heart these words: “My grace is sufficient,” he meant it. I’m still learning the secret of being content whatever the situation, whether well fed or hungry, whether living in plenty or in want, whether my family life is challenging or not; whether my neighbors are difficult or not. I am learning that I can do all this through him who gives me strength.
My dear wife Karen still suffers from many physical ailments, sleeplessness and the challenge of being a pastor’s wife. My girls are teenagers now with their own ideas, and, well, you know. Remember when you were a teen?
Our neighbors with whom we’ve had so many problems and who have cost us nearly $20,000.00 to build a road adjacent to our property, still cause us much trouble.
Though we have a new easement to get to our home, they still do little harassments, not unlike the Philistines heaped on the Israelites when they lived in the Promised Land.
“Therefore, in order to keep me from becoming conceited, I was given a thorn in my flesh, a messenger of Satan, to torment me. Three [hundred] times I pleaded with the Lord to take it away from me.”
Cases in point: I just got off the phone with a local Sheriff’s deputy whom our neighbors called on us. Why? They didn’t like the fact that our dog poops on our new easement in the grass on the side of the road, even though it is legally ours and we are out in the country! Also, they made it a point to put “No Trespassing” signs along our easement and around their property where we can see them plainly—from the windows of our home. There’s more, but you get the picture.
“But he said to me, ‘My grace is sufficient for you, for my power is made perfect in weakness.” Therefore I will boast all the more gladly about my weaknesses, so that Christ’s power may rest on me.'”
I believe I trust Christ more after my 40 day fast. I am willing to give everything up if he calls me to, (I think), so I’m not too worried about the future. I’m almost to the point where I do trust him with my future. Almost.
He’s spoken to me several times through these verses over the years:
- “The boundary lines have fallen for me in pleasant places; surely I have a delightful inheritance.”
- “He brought me out into a spacious place; he rescued me because he delighted in me.”
- “The Lord will fulfill [his purpose] for me…”
- “My times are in your hands…”
Is he trustworthy? Of course. Am I weak? Of course. Do I doubt? Yes.
What a wretched man I am! Who will rescue me from this body that is subject to death?
The one area that seems to be flourishing is in the fellowship I pastor, Community Church of the Hills. How different from a year ago when I thought God was calling me out of the ministry! (Read about it here.)
I’ve introduced fasting to our congregation; we now do regular once-a-month fasts. We’ve started a Men’s Discipleship Program with the goal of having every man grow up in Christ. We need to raise up leaders in our church, godly leaders, desperately. We also started our first home group; the first night, 19 people showed up! This month, I’m teaching our first evangelism class, “Sharing Your Faith Without Fear.”
I may also have been set free from a legalistic vow I made almost 20 years ago, but am praying about it and wanting to seek wise counsel to make sure I’m not misinterpreting my leading. I know my heart is deceitful above all things and desperately wicked, so I do not want to take anything for granted.
I’m still committed to my morning quiet times with the Lord. I love Him! I’m so thankful to be able to serve Him. I’m willing to do anything for him, except one thing….
I hope He never calls me to another 40 day fast.
“My God, I have never thanked You for my thorn. I have thanked You a thousand times for my roses, but not once for my thorn. I have been looking forward to a world where I shall get rewarded for my cross, but I have never thought of my cross as itself a present glory itself. Teach me to glory in my cross; teach me the value of my thorn. Show me how I have climbed to You by the path of pain. Show me that my tears have made my rainbows.” -George Matheson (1842-1906), famous blind Scottish preacher and hymn writer.
(Scripture references: Philippians 4; 2 Corinthians 12:9; Psalm 16:6; Psalm 18:19; Psalm 138:8; Psalm 31:15; Romans 7:24)
Photo credits: http://www.health.com/health/article/0,,20411476,00.html; http://www.homebackers.com/Cartoon by Tim Davis at http://redjawcartoons.com/