Last week we reflected a bit on the Narrow Road. I was so encouraged by “you are not alone” comments from many of you. I’m glad to know we’re in this together – as the road gets smaller and more difficult, we’ll need each other more than ever. I imagine at some parts along the journey the road will be so tiny that we’ll have to give one another piggyback rides so no one falls off the path! (I promise not to be 9 months pregnant before I jump on anyone’s back!)
I’m in the middle of a fast with some good friends who are even more committed to the Narrow Road then I will ever be. You may have heard of the fast – Seven, by Jen Hatmaker. It started out as “an experimental mutiny against excess” which eventually turned into a book. The idea is that you fast from something, something different for each month, for seven months. Her book guides you and chronicles what she did. I’ve been following along as closely as I can although making adjustments to fit our circumstances and family. Month one was to eat only seven foods...for the entire month. Think chicken, beans, spinach, peanut butter, etc. I did not do this since I’m quite pregnant and I didn’t think it would be safe. However, my family gave up eating out for the month saving over $500! That extra money was used in ways we wouldn’t have been able to give otherwise. It was hard at times – especially since we traveled for 10 days (we packed dinners for the airport, looked weird when catching up with friends at restaurants but not eating, and even had a slip up when the temptation of a Sonic burger just became too much!)
This month is to fast from clothes – this means I’ve been wearing the same seven (or so!) articles of clothes since March 1st. There have been times where I’ve definitely NOT wanted to put on the same white t-shirt and jeans again. Today I’m wearing a dress that has seen better days – since it’s dry clean only (bad choice on my part) it’s a bit sticky and crusty. And I’m totally self-conscience of what I wear to church since I see so many people and I just KNOW they are keeping track of what I’m wearing! I’m also quite aware of how HUGE I am and I desperately want to dress up/attempt to hide this big and bloated belly. But I’m sticking to the fast because I said I would. And admittedly, I am getting something out of it. Here are my top two lessons from month two:
One of my dear friends is doing this with me (or me with her...she introduced me to it.) One of her seven clothing articles is this super cute purple-stripped sweater. I’ve probably seen her in it five times now. And every time I do, I get overjoyed! I know that she is doing this fast for the same reasons as me – to get closer to Jesus. She wants to cut out excess in her own life and live with a more eternal perspective. Her purple sweater represents that to me. It’s an outward reminder of where her heart is. It also tells me I have a friend on the narrow road.
Second lesson – God desires a fast of my heart, not my clothes. This particular fast will end on March 31st (and a new will start on April 1!) and I’ll go about wearing my too-many-clothes-in-my-over-stuffed-closet. But where will my heart be? Isaiah 58:6-7 speaks to the kind of fast the Lord desires from us:
“Is not this the kind of fasting I have chosen: to loose the chains of injustice and untie the cords of the yoke, to set the oppressed free and break every yoke? Is it not to share your food with the hungry and to provide the poor wanderer with shelter – when you see the naked, to clothe them, and not to turn away from your own flesh and blood?
It’s not about what I give up. It’s about what I do. While on the narrow road, God is asking us to:
loose the chains of injustice
untie the cords of the yoke
set the oppressed free
break every yoke
share your food with the hungry
provide the poor with shelter
clothe the naked
not turn away your own flesh and blood
I don’t think He cares what I’m wearing as long as I’m active in pursing the things above. And as I’ve learned this month, the more I pursue the things above, the less I care what I’m wearing.
If you’re looking for a good challenge in your life, look into this fast for yourself. Grab some friends and do it together. You just never know how much joy you’ll find from a purple-stripped sweater that you do not even own!