First, I know all of what I am planning this year is not fasting per se. Fasting in its strictest definition is an abstinence from food and/or drink in various forms. Although I am going to start off my year with a traditional fast, many of my 40 day spiritual experiments would fall most naturally under other spiritual disciplines. Dallas Willard classifies these as disciplines of abstinence.
My motivation is not deprivation for the sake of mortification of the flesh. I like my body thank you very much.
My first motivation is desire to gain deeper and broader appreciation of what God has given me.
There are many thankful people in the world. This thankfulness naturally varies in magnitude from person to person. Obvious statements right? However, isn't it interesting how some folks can be grateful for a cup of rice and others can become petulant when there mocha Late isn't made just right?
I am a man that has been blessed abundantly. This I know intellectually. Yet I don't think about my blessings naturally. Sometimes I forget. Sometimes I become downright pessimistic. Even when I do analytically realize the wonders of God in my life there is often a spiritual and emotional anemia I find myself in. Therefore, I want to see if my appreciation for some of these blessings may expand as I set them aside for a time. This premise is my first hope for A year of Fasting.
My second motivation is related to the first. It has to do with interdependency ...and thankfulness for it. I feel we live in a culture that is self sufficient to a fault. We develop individualistic tendencies from an early stage in our lives. This is not inherently bad. However, the Western world we grow up in and learn to interact in seems to myopically focus on this aspect of our existence..... Who we are as individuals. And even when we self identify with our families, each little family pod seems to exist happily and merrily quite independent of all the other little families we may see at the soccer practice or Sunday morning service.
This seems to be a far cry from what God intended.
I love my church. I love everyone there. However, as much as I love them I feel it would be too easy for me to move on somewhere else and be happy about it. Whether I needed to take care of family, I was asked to leave or I got a job offer I couldn't refuse I would be just fine. At least I think I would. Someone may think that this is good and healthy...but I'm not so sure. I mean I don't want to be miserable or codependent. However, if there isn't enough interdependency in my church, community, and family that it doesn't hurt a little when its gone, I find that to be troubling too.
Individualistic, self sufficient lives are shallow lives. Interdependency in family and church echoes depth of relationship. How can I expect to have a meaningful relationship with the Creator of the Universe when I can't even have substantive relationship with my fellow human beings?
So.................. several of these disciplines I hope to practice in 2011 have been selected with a realization that they will require a great deal of help from those I care about. Part of me hates this because I like being able to do everything myself. I like my independence. But....I do get a little charged up about being able to spend some quality time with those most important to me. So many things are just better together....says the 37 year old single man.
Well. I know I am slow. tomorrow I will explain my 9 fasts.