Fasting to Fill Up

Being an adult in this current world can feel burdensome at times.  No longer are we graced with the carefree days of running amuck with the neighborhood kids, or squealing with delight as games of tag or backyard baseball are played.  Those days are often replaced with big daunting tasks that come at us, crippling us, creating fear or anxiety, panic, or a depressed feeling. Big things like job losses, tax troubles, parenting heartache or uncertainty, friendship woes, marital relationships in the trenches or failing, and when these trials come, we can often be left feeling helpless, inadequate, unsure of the next step or unwilling to take that next step because it just feels too easy to fall.  

Kayla Anderson Hunger and thirstOften my first solution can be to talk.  I’m a verbal processor so I just want to talk with anyone and everyone about what situation is going on in my life.  Talk to my best friends – they’ll comfort me, hug me, let me cry, and give me encouragement. Talk to my husband – he’ll try to offer a solution because solutions and resolution come so naturally to him.  Talk to my dad – he’ll offer me wisdom and advice because so much has happened in his life that is mirrored in my own so he’s likely been there.

Sometimes my first solution is to just put my head down, pull up my boot straps and start at it to just get through the daunting, overwhelming life task at hand because I’m a hardworker and just like to get things done.  I’m a bandaid ripper; just do it and get it over with. So often, that’s my mindset.

Not often enough is my first solution to pause and pray.  Yet when I read the Bible, so frequently I am shown that prayer and even fasting (voluntarily abstaining from eating while devoting time to prayer or reading the Bible) is the first and best solution for many of those men and women.  As Jesus himself was entering into ministry, he fasted.

“Jesus, full of the Holy Spirit, returned from the desert, where for forty days he was tempted by the devil.  He ate nothing during those days, and at the end of them he was hungry. The devil said to him, “If you are the Son of God, tell this stone to become bread.” Jesus answered, “It is written: ‘Man does not live on bread alone.’” – Luke 4:1-4

Jesus was referring to fasting, relying less on himself and his solutions but relying more on God.  I remember spending a few days as a youth group attendee doing some preset fasting as a group but never in my adult life have I devoted a day to fasting.  Not because I don’t know the Biblical principle of fasting or because I don’t want to – that just honestly isn’t something my mind is trained to think about.

David Mathis wrote, “Jesus assumes his followers will fast, and even promises it will happen.  He doesn’t say ‘if’ but ‘when you fast’ (Matthew 6:16). And he doesn’t say his followers might fast, but “they will” (Matthew 9:15).  We fast in this life because we believe in the life to come. We don’t have to get it all here and now, because we have a promise that we will have it all in the coming age.  We fast from what we can see and taste, because we have tasted and seen the goodness of the invisible and infinite God – and we are desperately hungry for more of him.”

Hunger and thirst Kayla AndersonEsther was a woman in the Bible with arguably one of the most daunting life tasks laid at her feet – a task that could literally take her life.  Esther was Queen when her cousin Mordecai (both Jews) learned of the king’s orders to “destroy, kill and annihilate all the Jews – young and old, women and little children” (Esther 3:13).  Mordecai told her “Do not think that because you are in the king’s house you alone of all the Jews will escape. For if you remain silent at this time, relief and deliverance for the Jews will arise from another place, but you and your father’s family will perish.  And who knows but that you have come to royal position for such a time as this?”

Do you know what Esther’s first solution to this huge life task was?  It wasn’t to immediately talk it out with friends, her husband (the king), or even Mordecai, her family.  It wasn’t to just pull up her bootstraps or attempt to just jump in and try to save the Jews with her own wisdom and judgment.  Esther’s first solution was to pray and fast.

“Go, gather together all the Jews who are in Susa, and fast for me.  Do not eat or drink for three days, night or day. I and my maids will fast as you do.  When this is done, I will go to the king, even though it is against the law. And if I perish, I perish.”  – Esther 4:16

I am challenged and encouraged to make my next “first solution” to a big life task to spend time in prayer via fasting.  To take the Esther approach. The Moses approach (Exodus 34:28). The Jesus approach. To make my life one that is not relying on bread alone but fully relying on God.

Kayla AndersonKayla Anderson is married (for better or for worse) to the one who she knows without a doubt that God created her to be companions with.  Together they have four young children, Ezekiel, Asher, Ellery and Alder, and run a hand-crafted soap shop.  She is a stay-at-home, homeschooling mom and is in a season of learning how to gracefully be the central point and glue of their family.  Thank the Lord that she has Him to look to for wisdom, guidance and strength!  She loves reading in the quiet, early morning hours, decorating their sweet little home, writing has been part of her soul since she learned how to write letters, and her love of coffee runs deeper than her coffee pot.  You can find more from Kayla on her blog or Instagram.



The Missionary’s New Song: A Legacy Worth Leaving

Snuggled in my bed, surrounded by the soft comfort of an old down blanket, I stared at my phone watching the playback of a month old live-stream from Inglewood Baptist Church.

My Great Uncle Don Jones and his friend (another retired missionary), in a beautiful crescendo, gloriously sang the words:

 “No more death when we get to heaven. No more death when we get to heaven…Hallelujah, Hallelujah…no more death! No more death, but life forevermore.”

Don Jones quote (1)Earlier that day my Great Uncle stepped into that life forevermore; for him death is no more. He is in the presence of the Savior to which he dedicated his life, and for him there could be no better day. Those of us left behind feel the pain of loss; for him there is no more pain. I am so thankful for the prayers he prayed for me, and the support he gave me in the ministry I have had the privilege of being involved in. My thoughts of him that night were tainted with grief, yet sweet and hopeful for his new home. As my eyes became heavy with slumber, my last thoughts settled on, “What a well lived life.”

He was 88 and was still teaching, singing, and serving others because of the love first given to him by Jesus. Prayers swelled in my heart to my Savior, that I too would live a life with that type of legacy. Loving God and loving people, knowing God and making Him known, a legacy of Philippians 1:21, “To live is Christ, to die is gain.”

His wife Nita was likewise filled with bold gentleness, and together they were missionaries in South Korea for 36 years as they raised their two children. I still remember her hugs… for some reason that is my clearest memory of her. It wasn’t really the hug itself but the feeling of deep comfort wrapped within them. She died in 2004, but the love they shared didn’t. You still saw and felt it when he spoke of her.

Legacy Don and NitaI remember sitting with my grandmother and my mother huddled around our giant box of a TV watching the 1988 Seoul Olympics where Don and Nita were serving as translators. Every time their event would come on someone would yell, “Hit the record button!” as we tried to catch a glimpse of our family members on the sides of the diving pools of the world-wide competition. With such a small view of his life and his impact for God’s kingdom, I naively thought this was the coolest thing about my Uncle Don. I shrugged my shoulders at the work he was doing in Korea, that he held a Masters and a PhD, and that he had walked faithfully with Jesus since childhood. The Olympics, that was what impressed 6-year-old me. But what sticks with me now, and will remain until my own walk into eternity, is the race of faith he ran.

I look to them, this generation that went before and I dream for my children and their children. When we lose a family member who reaches the end having truly glorified Christ, we are compelled to ask: “How did they get there, and how can I do the same?” My Great Uncle and Aunt did it, my Grandparents did it, and I want to do it. Legacy doesn’t mean dying after a long life and being fondly remembered, but living well and making an eternal impact.

Now he sings a new song, one too beautiful for me to yet comprehend; it harmonizes with what his life sung of the grace and glory of God.

“If then you have been raised with Christ, seek the things that are above, where Christ is, seated at the right hand of God. Set your minds on things that are above, not on things that are on earth. For you have died, and your life is hidden with Christ in God. When Christ who is your life appears, then you also will appear with him in glory.”      Colossians 3:1-4

Readers, This month we will be diving into thoughts on legacy. Who has left a lasting mark on your life in a way you would like to do for others? Join the conversation and let us know in the comments.

chara-donahue-head-shotChara Donahue enjoys freelance writing, Biblical counseling, and speaking to women when her four kids are out playing with dad. She holds a MSEd from Corban University and is passionate about seeing people set free through God’s truths. She is a regular contributor at Portland Moms Blog and her words have appeared at (in)courage, Christianity Today: Women Leaders, and The Huffington Post. She longs to be a voice that says, “Hey we are in this together, and there is room for us all.” You can find more from Chara at One Anchored Voice, on Facebook, and on Twitter.