We are living in a society that ranks "eating" as one of its highest passions. We not only enjoy eating; we even enjoy talking about eating. If you don't believe me, just ask someone sometime where his or her favorite place to eat is, and watch his or her face light up. The conversation will move quickly from a great seafood place to a great steakhouse to a great Mexican restaurant. Now this article is not about where the best place to eat is, but rather some thoughts about the biblical fasting. A fast may be giving up a meal, or certain types of food or drink. I think it is safe to say that we have not placed a great deal of emphasis on the subject of fasting in the Lord's church. In fact, I dare say as much as most of us like to eat, I think we view fasting in the same category as hitting our thumb with a hammer- not only is it something we do not want to do; it is something we do not even want to think about. The Bible has a lot to say about fasting. Just a few of the people in the Bible who fasted are Moses, Samson, Samuel, Hannah, David, Elijah, Ezra, Nehemiah, Esther, Daniel, Anna, John the Baptist and his disciples, Jesus, Paul and numerous others. Fasting is a biblical subject.
Jesus said, Take My yoke upon you and learn from Me (Matthew 11:28). The yoke here is a valuable symbol for His disciples. It is used as a symbol of control. Farmers yoke up farm animals so that they will go in the same direction, to the same place, at the same time, in the same pace. When you are yoked to another animal you can’t go faster and you can’t go slower and you can’t run off in a ditch because the other animal’s not going to let you run off in a ditch. There is an old truism that says, “You can be too smart for your own good.” Standing taller, you may see farther than a child, but only when you humble yourself can you see the simple beauty that is the treasure of the observant little child. There is value in taking a step back and trying to see with a child’s eyes and hear with a child’s ears. The heart of a child will follow the Master. They will try to work and imitate the Master. Remember a yoke is not to get out of work. People who come to Jesus do work, but the yoke they take up makes the work lighter. Jesus is saying together, let us team up and face your burdens and problems and obstacles, for in Jesus we can find rest for our souls.
Psalm 91 speaks of a special place. Notice the readings of Psalm 91:1-2 from both the NIV and the KJV versions of the Bible to catch the power of the words. First, the King James Version reads, He that dwelleth in the secret place of the Most High shall abide under the shadow of the Almighty. I will say of the LORD, “He is my refuge and my fortress: my God; in him will I trust.” Second, the New International Version reads, He who dwells in the shelter of the Most High will rest in the shadow of the Almighty. I will say of the LORD, "He is my refuge and my fortress, my God, in whom I trust."
God wants us to come to Him and abide under His shadow because it is a place of expectation and eternal peace. It is a place ripe with the potential of hope and promise. It is an inward retreat from outward disappointments. The secret place of shelter is a place of safety from spiritual evil. Satan has dubbed many people into taking the wrong definition of full-life. People spend their lifetimes lunging for the gold which they think will bring fulfillment and purpose only to find when they get there, they are empty. Gusto living is abiding in the shadow of the Almighty. Gusto living can only be found in Jesus and in His church.
I realize I don't have to tell you the benefit of quiet time with God, but making it our practice is an entirely different matter. The Psalmist said; "Be still and Know that I am God" (Psalms 46:10). There is a sense in which hurry can destroy our souls. Here are two thoughts concerning being still and knowing God. First of all, MAKE TIME. No one can tell another person what time in the 24-hour day is best for them because all our circumstances and responsibilities are different. The point is we all have to make time. Second, after you make time approach God with the RIGHT SPIRIT. The time and place will be of no avail if the attitude is wrong. There are pockets in all of our days we are forced to slow down. You might consider using these required stops in your day, such as red lights, to reflect on God. There are lines in which we stand and wait at the grocery store or the bank. We often wait at the gas station or medical office and all these times of pause can actually benefit us, if we will be still and know God. For many of us the danger is we will become so rushed, and preoccupied with things that we are weakened spiritually by not taking pockets of time to reflect on God’s goodness.