When I was 16 I decided, along with one of my friends, to spend a day fasting and praying.
After dinner on Friday night, we both started. Saturday morning, we borrowed the keys to our church building, stocked up on all our favourite worship cds and barricaded ourselves in so we wouldn’t be distracted by anything. By 11 we were hungry, fed up and tired. So we went home and made ourselves cheese and ham toasties.
That was 11am by the way. I think it may have been the worst attempted fast in the history of the world. We didn’t even make it to lunchtime.
So how exactly did we manage to fast so badly that we were doing it for less time than some people usually go between meals anyway? There are probably many reasons, but here’s one of my theories…
Our reasoning was that if we wanted to do something to help us get closer to God then the church- God’s house- was the perfect place to do it. Unfortunately, being in a large empty building didn’t actually help us to feel God’s presence. It’s not that God wasn’t there, but more I think because we had kind of missed the point. We were so taken with the idea of doing something “holy” that we kind of forgot to include Him, and using the church building was almost like a subconscious effort to convince ourselves that we were doing it for the right reasons.
And I’m not sure we really were. The difficult thing is that I didn’t realise that until a long time after.
How many times have you done something- acted a certain way, made a decision- believing it to be the right thing… and then in hindsight realised that it wasn’t?
It’s easy to argue in favour of someone who does the wrong thing for the right reasons. There’s even a saying- “At least her heart was in the right place”. But what about when we do the right thing for the wrong reasons? And our hearts are not in the right place.
In Isaiah 64:6 it says:
All of us have become like one who is unclean,
and all our righteous acts are like filthy rags;
we all shrivel up like a leaf,
and like the wind our sins sweep us away.
It doesn’t matter how many good things we do, if our hearts are not set on Jesus, our deeds are useless. It can be easy to become distracted by everyday things and lose sight of what’s really important. But Jesus wants our complete focus. It’s not enough to do all the right things outwardly if it’s not backed up by a real commitment and desire to follow Him.
Of course that doesn’t mean we should stop doing good things. And there will always be times when we do the wrong thing for the right reasons, no matter how hard we try.
But no matter how badly we fail, God has a promise for us.
Romans 5:8-9 says:
But God demonstrates his own love for us in this: While we were still sinners, Christ died for us.
Since we have now been justified by his blood, how much more shall we be saved from God’s wrath through him!
If we had truly been focused on Jesus, we probably would’ve lasted a lot longer than we did with our fast! But God is gracious and he uses our failures to help us grow in him. And the most amazing thing is that even with my worst sins and failures, Jesus died for me.
As lent draws to a close, we leave a time of fasting and move into celebration over Jesus’s death and resurrection. But even after Easter ends, that message still holds true.
Jesus is for life- our whole lives- not just for Easter!
Mrs. Christy-Anna Errington
WMC Youth and Young Adult Chair