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Signposts: Daily Devotions

Written by Renée Miller

Monday, September 7

Yet even now, says the Lord, return to me with all your heart, with fasting.
—Joel 2:12a

In a culture driven by food, diets, and exercise, fasting can be seen as a way to cleanse our body of toxins and waste. A way to lose excess pounds. A method for becoming healthier. We know when we eat too much. We know when we eat what is not good for our body.  Fasting—even from French fries or dessert—seems a positive way to make a difference in our eating patterns and our health. 

Fasting certainly may be useful for strengthening the body. Even more importantly, however, is how it strengthens the soul. When we have eaten too much food or partaken in food that is laden with oil or sugar, we quickly feel the physical effects. Our bodies become lethargic, and we prefer sitting on the couch watching our favorite TV program until we fall asleep. We don't feel lithe and buoyant.  We don't want to do anything but let our food digest.

When, however, we eat a healthy and modest meal, we are rejuvenated, renewed, refreshed.  Movement increases and our attitude improves.  When we overfill our lives with what diminishes our soul, we become spiritually sluggish. Readiness and receptiveness to the Holy One seems as unappealing as working on our day off.

But, when we fast, we lift our souls to heaven again, and we feel light, open, expectant.  We have no desire for a spiritual afternoon nap. Rather, we are ready to deepen our union with the One who fills us with every spiritual blessing. 

We are not encouraged to fast because God wants to see if we can go hungry for some length of time. It is not for God. It is for us.  When our body or soul is brimming over with toxins, we will stay spiritually sleepy. If we empty our body and soul, we will wake up to meet God.

Gracious God, let the food I desire most be the union I share with you.