Thursday, May 26, 2005

DESIRE IS MY GOD.

I really should be able to say that I desire God. But just this week I figured out that it's the other way around. I'm sad to admit that I worship my desires. When what I desire is God, that works out rather conveniently, but when I desire other things, well- not so much. Here's how I discovered this sad fact about myself:

So, when I joined the staff of my new church, I found out that just 2 weeks before I got there the entire staff went away to meet and pray. While meeting and praying on a pier in North San Diego- God told them to fast. He didn't tell them to go fast- like drive quick. He told them to fast- like abstain from eating. So they decided that this year as pastors, they would fast the first Wed. of every month and then 4 times a year we'd have a 2 day fast. So since I'm a pastor, God has by default spoken this prophetic word into my life too. Honestly, this is the first time in my life that I've regularly disciplined myself to fast. It's been a learning experience. In the just over 2 months that I've been here, I have twice fasted for a day and just this week was my first 2 day fast ever in my life. I'm in fasting boot camp.

Anyway what I've discovered is that a one day fast is almost like you got too busy to eat. By the time you get hungry- like really hungry- you can go to sleep and then when you wake up- you eat. No big deal- at least for me. Totally different story when Day 2 hits and you watch your family eat dinner and you don't join in satisfying your hunger for the second time. In those moments you realize- wow, I really want to eat- bad! So you pray and talk to God about desire instead. Or perhaps more accurately- He talks to you. In my case, I talked about how bad I desire food and about how hard it is to ignore the urge to eat. Then God starts talking to me about other urges I get that I don't ignore either. Then before I know it- God is all up in my face and I realize- I'm a spiritual woose- owned by my desires instead of my God. I lack discipline.

I've been reading a book by Bill Hybels called, "who you are when no one's looking." I thought the book would be all about integrity- but it's not. It's about character. He talks about 4 character traits that are endangered species in the character trait world. He says that one of those endangered species is "discipline" which he defines as the ability to "delay gratification." In essence, disciplined people he says are people who learn to say no to immediate impulses for greater returns. They decide not to spend money but save for a better purchase or to give it away to someone in great need. Or they may decide not to eat that desert so they'll be fit and healthy or not to look at porn so they have real relationships with real consequences and blessings instead of a cheap temporary imitation. As I thought of delayed gratification in light of my fasting- I realized I have some work to do.

All of this caused me to go back and re-read a chapter of the famous book Celebration of the Disciplines, by Richard Foster. In his chapter on the discipline of fasting, he says, "More than any other discipline, fasting reveals the thing that controls us." Wow. He hit the nail on the head. He also says that, "In many ways, the stomach is like a spoiled child, and a spoiled child does not need indulgence, but needs discipline." So it is with me spiritually. I need to discipline my desires, not feed the spoiled brat.

Remember the time that Satan tries to tempt Jesus with food after he fasted for 40 days- 20 times longer than my woosie dos dias? Jesus responds to Satan's temptation and quotes a passage from Deuteronomy when God fed the Israelites with Manna from heaven when he says in Matthew 4:4 Jesus answered, "“It is written: ‘Man does not live on bread alone, but on every word that comes from the mouth of God.”" Wow. I have a long way to go for that to be true of me. Fasting made me realize how far I have to go to want and desire God and obey his voice more than even the simple spoiled child of my stomach. I have several idols I need to melt into an offering for the Lord. That I hope and pray will become my desire- to yearn for the word of God more than any other lust in life. That would be victory. I think I have a lifetime of fasting ahead of me before that happens though. Fast I shall.

2 comments:

Aurora 11:54 PM  

Go Brian I'm proud of you. =D

Last week I was with my hot chocolate team thing in SF and we met a man who refused hot chocolate and explained that he lived only on fruits and vegetables. He gave us a paper he wrote explaining his theory which was that once humans can live on just fruit juice, we will become pure spirits and achieve immortality. It was pretty hokey but I thought he was onto something with the self-restraint-connecting-to-spirituality idea. Just some *food* for thought.

brian c. berry 5:40 AM  

thanks Aurora. I think I'll stick to trusting Jesus for my immortality and have a steak now and then. But to each his own I suppose. Have a cup of wheat grass on me. peace.

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San Diego, CA
Husband. Dad. Jesus Follower. Friend. Learner. Athlete. Soccer coach. Reader. Builder. Dreamer. Pastor. Communicator. Knucklehead.

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