Monday was a fasting day for our church. I usually restrict my diet to liquids during a fast, but this day turned out differently. What is a fast really, but something you give up because you have a tendency to turn to it for comfort instead of relying on God to sustain you. Usually this involves food, but Isaiah 58 clearly points out that fasting is not merely a ritual involving food, but an opening of our hearts to God's heart.
I spent much of the day in a hospital waiting room and doing various errands with a friend. We visited some kind people (grandparents of my friend) and I felt I should accept any offer of their hospitality as refusing food from them would have been rude and pretentious (at least in my mind). When we finally arrived home after a long day at the mercy of the medicare system, my friend prepared a wonderful salad for me and I ate it with relish as my energy was dipping quite low. I wondered if I should be feeling guilty while all my fellow fasters were going without food, so I asked God what this day of fasting was all about? Had I accomplished anything or had I failed miserably?
The phrase, "Not with your own hands," rang clearly in my head. None of the food I had eaten had been prepared or procured by my own hands. God is trying to teach me not to rely on what I can do with my own hands, but to accept whatever comes from his hands, in whatever form or by whatever means it comes. My fast was to give up my self-reliance and making things happen for myself. This is also what he is teaching me about our church. It must be built by his hands. If it is to be of any eternal value, it must always be his efforts instead of mine. That way the results will look so much more like him and so much less like me. And that's a good thing.
This wonderful lily, a gift from my friend Erika, just burst into bloom this week.