If you are a child of the ‘70s or ‘80s, and you were allowed to listen to rock and roll music “and bad-mouth your country”, you likely have heard the song, “Life in the Fast Lane”, written by Frey, Henley, and Walsh of The Eagles. Personally, I have always enjoyed that song because of the excellent guitar riffs and catchy refrain. However, as I get older, I want to say I understand and respect it even more. Not because I like singing about the raw things it mentions, but BECAUSE (like many of Henley’s songs in particular, e.g. Dirty Laundry) it describes and reminds us how far off the mark we are as a society. You can find the full lyrics here. I won’t post them, because they might make some clutch their pearls, and my message will be lost. The words are raw and gritty. But they represent so many of our choices to live in the you-can-have-it-all, you-deserve-it-all, more-is-better, rich-is-best, live-your-best-life-now culture. Oh, and sex and drugs? They are primarily to be used to escape from the reality which we work so hard to create for ourselves.
So, what is my message?
Well, when given the topic of fasting, initially, I thought I would talk about the whys and hows of fasting and its impact on me. In fact, a dear friend of mine mentioned to me that throughout history, times of great revival follow times of heart-felt, corporate fasting. But you know what? We don’t talk about it that much in my church and my experiences with fasting, particularly with food, have been impacted by my food scarcity issues. So, in the past, when I’ve fasted, I’ve pretty much sabotaged the effort by thinking about the big feast I would have after my time with the Lord. I need to grow more in this area before I feel right about posting about food fasting. I am most definitely a work in progress with this area of faith, because it’s simply a muscle I have not flexed. God is so forbearing with me while I figure this out with Him.
However, it’s just been on my heart to really learn to fast from going so fast, so to speak. Fasting is about denying ourselves something, such as food, not to punish ourselves, but to the contrary, to grow in focus upon the Lord. We (okay, I) have gotten so used to the busyness of creating a life that we work to escape from, that I think fasting from this busyness is a step in the right direction of more focus on God. Aside: please know I am writing this to the chick behind the screen as much as to anyone else. So, how do we do this? I mean, most people can’t give up their jobs and responsibilities, let’s say, of paying bills and raising their families. True.
But what can we fast from?
Could we fast from ONE show on TV or Netflix? Could we fast from ONE activity—of our own or (gulp) our children’s? I see you, tired mamas and dads in minivans ferrying your brood to one more rehearsal, one more practice, coffee in hand and cold French fries in the back seat cushions. Aren’t you tired? Do our kids need to be in EVERY fun thing that comes their way? Do we need to sign up for every Bible study or exercise class that is offered? Even/especially in Christian circles, I find that we tend to busy ourselves to death in the name of Jesus. And I think this grieves Him. Are we really more faith and hope filled and closer to Jesus when we arrive home exhausted from that umpteenth church activity/serving opportunity/potluck?
Another dear friend, who happens to be one of my pastors, says he believes that we can participate well in about ‘one and a half’ ministries to really be able to serve (one) and be served (a half), with lives balanced and centered on Jesus. To be sure, this is not a hard-and-fast rule, but a guideline—sometimes our lives include seasons of unavoidable busyness. But friends: the world is watching Christians with ever suspicious and skeptical eyes. I think we need to seriously think about fasting from some of this madness to which we’ve become so accustomed, and even addicted, and think about putting more white space on the calendar for Jesus. How are we able to love our neighbors well if we are so dang insulated by our cocoon of busyness? And if we are only busy with church activities, how are we showing Jesus to anyone who doesn’t already agree with us?
Life in the Fast Lane
In our life in the fast lane culture, fasting from busyness is hard. It takes boundaries and sacrifice. And it will not be popular, I guarantee it. But, like any other type of fast, I believe when we take every thought captive from the thing from which we fast and choose instead to listen for God’s whisper, we grow closer to Him and receive revival in our own hearts. I believe one Jesus follower at a time, we can show this weary world how to find stillness and peace, and how to build a life in which we thrive, rather than wish to escape.
I believe when we take every thought captive from the thing from which we fast and choose instead to listen for God’s whisper, we grow closer to Him and receive revival in our own hearts.
I find it ironic that years later, Henley wrote the song, “Learn to be Still”.
Dear Lord, I thank you for loving us (me) as we figure out how to live with you as the center of our lives, so that others may see and follow Your light. Holy Spirit, give us revival of soul and spirit, so that we have the strength to fast from a life of busyness in favor of a life filled and guided by Your purposes for us. In Jesus’ name. Amen.