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Topic: Hunger (11/08/04)
TITLE: Sizzling Sacrifices
By Kelly Klepfer
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Fasting was a spiritual discipline that interested me. I wondered if I would ever feel spiritual enough to participate. World Vision’s 30 Hour Famine was my first adventure with fasting. As the youth leader, I could have ignored the flyers, but I thought it would be an interesting experience for the kids. We participated three times. The first time was awful. We whined, we complained, we debated on whether or not we cheated by chewing sugarless gum. The second and third times were easier. On my own, every once in a while, I felt burdened to give up a meal.
This was a comfortable arrangement. One day, while minding my own business at work, I felt/heard “I want you to fast today.” I told God that I didn’t think that it was a good day. He responded by agreeing to my request, with the suggestion of an upcoming 40 day fast. I wrestled until I was sweaty and out of breath. I ignored the request. I wrestled again. I got the distinct impression that I would be taking a step toward stronger faith if I participated and that He would set me aside in my comfortable life and stop pushing me as I had been asking Him to, if I declined.
I gave Him a condition, thinking that it might buy some time. I needed 40 days between my daughter’s birthday – October 11 and Thanksgiving. I probably should have checked the calendar before offering the condition. It fit perfectly.
I began training for fasting. I fasted one day a week, only one meal a day for a week, and ate smaller, simpler meals. My day arrived – I started by skipping my evening meal.
I was told that I would feel closer to God because I was fasting. I often did not. I grew frustrated several times because I didn’t have many uninterrupted sessions of prayer. As a wife and a mom, I needed to take care of my family, and though I had given up eating time, I was still shopping, preparing and cleaning up.
There were some valuable lessons that I took away from my 40 days with God. Every hunger pang was a call to acknowledge Him. I discovered that I could give up something as foundational to life as eating, and survive. I found that things that I had wrestled with - my concerns and fears - were non issues. The first 3 days were the roughest. My stomach protested, juice became too sweet, my body adjusted with strange complaints. During that time, I woke up with a dream still fluttering in my mind. I dreamt that I was stuffing myself with sweet, gooey Crispy Crème donuts, and that I cried out to Him in my panic, asking that He wouldn’t let me break my fast accidentally. I woke up knowing that He would protect and watch over what He called me to do.
One vivid blue Sunday several weeks into my fast, I grilled chicken. The sun was warm and a soft breeze ruffled my hair. The trees wore their autumn fashions. It was a perfect day. As the chicken sizzled and blackened on the grill, a realization penetrated my mind, like the aroma of the roasting meat saturated my emptiness. I thought of sacrificial lambs, scapegoats, and Romans 12:2.
“This is what your obedience smells like to Me.” I felt Him say. My deep emptiness was fed by the aroma of the sizzling meat and the realization of what that meat stood for in my life. My sacrifices were my comfort, my self sufficiency, and the burning up of my preferences. I began to understand how valuable my prayers, my obedience are to Him.
My 40 day fast seemed to last both years and a mere blink in the wrinkle of time. As I began to plan my meal to break my fast, the only thing I truly hungered for, craved and thought about…was bread.