We are missionaries with an amazing mission organization. Camino Global isn't only wonderful because of its rich history ministering to Spanish speaking peoples. Not only is it wonderful because of its worldwide vision, and because of all of the incredible, godly missionaries who serve, but also because of a leadership that loves our Lord, that desires to serve Him above all else, and that challenges us to do the same. This week (I believe), Camino leadership will be meeting to seek the Lords direction for the upcoming year(s). I am sure that many mission agencies are doing that. What is so wonderful to me, is that Doug Livingston, our president, asked the mission body to fast and pray along with the leadership, as they felt led, for a week in preparation for this time of planning. What an honor to get to participate!
I had never done a fast like this before. I am sort of ashamed to admit that. I have always liked the "idea" of fasting, but never really felt like I needed to participate. And here was an opportunity to share in this process with Camino missionaries, board members, and staff. So after some prayer and consideration, I decided to participate with a partial fast. I don't know how arbitrary it was, but after seeking the Lord's guidance, I decided that I would eat no meat, no bread (or flour/corn/rice products), and no sugar. Basically limiting myself to vegetables, beans, and some cheese.
I am writing this because I wanted to share with you what God taught me through that week of fasting. The idea was to fast and pray...combined. I can say that when I began my first day, I was completely overwhelmed with the desire to pray for Camino Global. Every time my tummy grumbled in hunger, every carrot that I sliced, every piece of bread that I passed up, was accompanied by a prayer offered to my Savior. On several occasions that first day I was moved to tears as I felt the Holy Spirit interceding through my prayers. What a joyful and humbling experience!
Honestly, after that day, it wasn't quite as emotional, although it may have been more spiritual. I had been praying for some time that God would help me be more aware of His presence throughout my day, being convinced that I needed to pay more attention to Him to really experience the fullness of life that He has given me. All throughout the days I was more and more aware of His ever abiding presence with me. What a blessing and a source of joy. It was as if the lines between the physical body and my spiritual nature were torn down, even for just a little while.
I also became increasingly aware of my lack of discipline and self denial. Before, whenever I felt the slightest pang of hunger, I would march down to my fridge or my pantry and select something to satisfy my urges. If I was baking or cooking or even just standing in the kitchen while Brandon did, I munched, taking little bites here and there, simply because I wanted them and I could. It is amazing to me how occupied my energies are in satisfying the pleasures/needs/wants of my physical body, compared to how little effort I spend nourishing my spirit. This fast brought all of that to the forefront of my mind.
A little denial goes a long way. I don't believe that God created us to satisfy every desire, appease every appetite, or gratify every whim. I think that God desires us to practice self denial, to be aware of our real needs and satisfy them with thanksgiving in our hearts for His provision. And since when was hunger bad? That feeling of hunger that I work really hard at eliminating, made me aware of the frailty of my physical body, made me thankful for the stomach that I have, and reminded me to pray...to seek Him.
This was such a wonderful experience for me, and I am so thankful that I was given the chance to fast and pray along with so many others for the future of Camino Global. I would really like to begin regularly incorporating the fast into my walk with the Lord.