Fasting to Disappear

Focus 40  Day 28

“‘Why have we fasted,’ they say, ‘and you have not seen it? Why have we humbled ourselves, and you have not
noticed?’…Is not this the kind of fasting I have chosen: to loose the chains of injustice and untie the cords of the yoke,
to set the oppressed free and break every yoke? Is it not to share your food with the hungry and to provide the poor
wanderer with shelter—when you see the naked, to clothe them, and not to turn away from your own flesh and blood?
Then your light will break forth like the dawn, and your healing will quickly appear; then your righteousness will go
before you, and the glory of the LORD will be your rear guard. Then you will call, and the LORD will answer; you will
cry for help, and he will say: Here am I.”
—Isaiah 58:3, 6–8 NIV

The people of Isaiah’s time had a misconception about fasting. In fact, they had it backwards. They
fasted to get answers from God. They fasted to implore God to meet their needs. They fasted to
show God what was important to them. They fasted to get God’s attention.
Oops, wait a minute. That’s exactly why I fast. Uh, oh.

Through Isaiah, God gives a very different perspective on fasting. According to God, fasting
isn’t about me getting answers to my questions; it’s about learning what the important questions are.
Fasting isn’t about petitioning God to meet my needs; it’s about me seeing the needs of others.
Fasting isn’t about God understanding what is important to me; it’s about me seeing what is
important to God. Fasting isn’t about God showing up—he is ever present. It’s about me showing
up.

I wonder what would happen if I started fasting because it was good for the kingdom? What
if I began fasting to make myself available to God? What if I began fasting so more of my time and
resources were available for God’s use—so that the money I saved by not eating for a day fed
someone who was hungry or helped finance some missions project? What if I fasted as a gift to
others instead of as a means to my own ends? What if I fasted so I disappeared and the hands and
feet of Jesus rose to the surface?

According to Isaiah, I would begin to see and hear from God. But it wouldn’t be because
some cosmic equation balanced out—I did X for God, so he’ll do X for me. I’ll begin to see God
because I’ll begin to be a part of what he is doing and his handprints and footprints will be visible all
around me.

All I have to do is disappear. And according to Isaiah, fasting is a gift God’s given me to
help me disappear.

Lord, help us to learn to disappear so you can be seen more clearly.

– Pastor Bruce Steffensen, Interim Pastor, Holiday Park Church of God, Portland, Oregon

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