I’m not usually one to give anything up for Lent. It always seemed like a pointless bit of self-discipline that ended in a huge splurge come Easter. For the last few years I decided to try to add something to my life during Lent rather than remove something. This was OK for a while, but you soon run out of ideas for nice things to do for people, and you end up with your housemates thinking they’ve gained a washing-up fairy. This year however, I’m going to be facing up to the food lovers biggest religious sticking point … fasting.
My church is currently growing in a really amazing way, and is due to launch 2 new venues on Easter Sunday. This means that we will be using Lent to do a collective period of prayer and fasting in the run up to the big day. As someone who loses weight just by accidentally using skimmed milk in my tea, fasting has never been an easy or appealing prospect. I LOVE food. I enjoy thinking about it, shopping for it, cooking it, eating it, sharing it, and on most Saturday mornings can be found tucked up in bed reading a cook book. How then, do I even begin to go about fasting for 40 days?
After a lot of deliberation, where I considered everything from giving up one meal a day, to not eating meat, to giving up Facebook, I think I’ve finally come to an achievable solution. Fasting is not supposed to be just an act of self-discipline, it’s supposed to be an act of worship. It’s a way for you to show God that you treasure spending time with Him more than you care about anything else, including your most basic bodily needs. Fasting from things of the world is supposed to be accompanied with feasting on the presence of God, so that’s exactly what I intend on doing.
The passion I have for food is God-given, and is a good thing, but that means that I’m at serious risk of letting it become too important in my life. Giving too much of myself over to this passion is going to turn it into an idol. I may not be physically bowing down to a cupcake, but if I find myself spending more time planning what I’m going to eat for dinner than I do talking to God, who I claim to love, then what am I really worshipping?
This year, I choose to give my passion for food back to God. I’m still going to eat (I fare really badly with a lack of food), but I’m going to make very simple dishes with a minimum of kitchen time. Think one big pot of stew to last the whole week. And all the time I usually spend shopping or cooking, I’m going to be spending with the one who made it possible for me to enjoy food in the first place – feasting on His love.