As a protestant/evangelical, one might be surprised that I would participate in Lent. I confess that I do not know much about the history of Lent, but what I understand it to be is an intentional time to make a sacrifice of something temporal to gain something eternal. When I think of fasting, I think of Daniel in the Old Testament fasting from the decadence surrounding him in Babylon, or Queen Esther fasting in preparation to plead for her people before her King, or I think of Jesus’ 40 days of fasting prior to the start of his earthly ministry. I don’t normally think of fasting and imagine that turning off Facebook and Instagram for six weeks will result in a significantly spiritually enriching experience. Yet for me, that is exactly what happened.
I also know from scripture that when you fast you are not supposed to make a big deal out of it. It is between you and God and if you are doing it to get attention or to boost your own image, your fast is worthless. In light of that admonishment, please let me say unequivocally that I only share these stories because I feel compelled to testify to the work of the Lord in my life. I began Lent with a desire to experience God in a deeper and more meaningful way. My soul was dry and weary and I needed to be refreshed.
In Matthew 5:6 Jesus said, “Blessed are those who hunger and thirst for righteousness, for they will be satisfied.” And in Luke 11:13 Jesus said, “If you then, who are evil, know how to give good gifts to your children, how much more will the heavenly Father give the Holy Spirit to those who ask him!”
In fasting, we have an opportunity to set aside something temporal and ask God to replace it with something better — something eternal. Do I think social media is bad or inherently evil? No. Obviously no, or I wouldn’t be here sharing this! I do believe, however, that when anything becomes a dominating presence or influence in our lives, it is wise to keep whatever that thing is in check. And I can testify that, as I made room in my heart, mind, soul — my life — for Jesus, he gladly filled that space with more of him.
I know that is a bunch of churchy talk, and even for Christians it can become frustrating to understand exactly what did that look like for you to have “more of Jesus?” How can you even measure that?
This is a great question and one that I may struggle to answer to your satisfaction.
Second to the Holy Scriptures, my primary teacher during lent was 20th-century theologian A.W. Tozer. In his book Experiencing the Presence of God: Teachings from the Book of Hebrews Tozer says:
Very simply put, the great passion in the heart of every human being, who are created in the image of God, is to experience the awesome majesty of God’s presence. The highest accomplishment of humanity is entering the overwhelming presence of God. Nothing else can satiate this burning thirst.The average person, unable to understand this passion for intimacy with God, fills his life with things, hoping somehow to satisfy his inward longing. He chases that which is exterior, hoping to satisfy that inner thirst, but to no avail.The spirit of restlessness breaking across the sea of humanity testifies to this truth. Our whole purpose as created beings is to utilize our time delighting in the manifest presence of our Creator. This presence is both intangible and indescribable. Some try explaining it, but only those with a personal, intimate knowledge of God’s presence can truly understand. Some things rise above explanation and human understanding, and this is one. Many Christians are filled with good information, but only a few mercy drops fall into their languid soul to satisfy the thirst for God’s presence. Too many have never burst into the dazzling sunlight of God’s conscious, manifest presence. Or if they perchance have, it is a rare experience and not a continuous delight.
To some extent, as I share my God stories, there is an element of faith that is required to truly understand where I am coming from. Hebrews 11:1 says, “Now faith is being sure of what you hope for and certain of what you do not see.” Faith is essential to following Christ and living the Christian life. Are we not called to live a life of faith? We walk by faith, not by sight. By grace we are saved through faith, it is the gift of God, not of man, so that none can boast. Without faith it is impossible to please God, for whoever would draw near to God must believe that he exists and that he rewards those who seek him.
Despite my inadequacies and perhaps the sheer inability to put words around how I experienced God during Lent, I will be sharing these God stories on my blog over the coming weeks. I understand that not everyone will get it, and that’s ok. I have faith that God is going to use these stories however he wants to. In reality, they are his stories anyway, I just get to tell them.
My prayer is that sharing these little testimonies will glorify God and encourage others to pursue and come to know the amazing God our Father, our Lord Jesus Christ and the manifest presence of his Holy Spirit that lives in the hearts of all who believe.