I love my church, and I love my pastor, Rob Cruver. ZCC is an awesome place of worship and I thank God that he directed my family there five years ago. That said, a few weeks ago at service we received this little book that Rob recommended we read. "Okay," I thought, taking one from the usher. "Whatever. I'll give it a read. I'm a committed Christian, I'm following Jesus, I'm eager to deepen my relationship with my Lord and Savior, I'm....wait...what's this...Fasting??"
Here's where Jesus and I have historically parted ways. I don't fast. Just the word terrifies me. Fasting means no coffee first thing in the morning. How can I do my Bible study if I haven't woken my brain up first, with a nice hot cuppa joe? Fasting means...nevermind. I couldn't get past the idea of facing the day sans coffee.
As a catholic I had done some form of fasting. Like we didn't eat meat on Fridays. That was easy enough. I remember my mom making these awful fish patties and cod cakes. Looking back I think maybe we must not have had enough money to actually go out and buy an entire fish and grill it. That was the only possible reason you'd eat fish patties or cod cakes. I smothered mine in ketchup, and it still didn't kill the taste, let alone the texture. The only saving grace to this meal was she always served them with homemade baked macaroni and cheese. Let me tell you, any type of fast that allows baked macaroni and cheese isn't half bad.
When I was really young I remember that you couldn't eat on Sunday mornings before church. My mom explained it something like this: "honey, it wouldn't be holy to have Jesus's body land in your stomach on top of a bowl of soggy rice crispies, now would it?" Okay. So no breakfast. After church we always stopped at the same bakery, Thelma's, and always got 6 hard rolls and 6 jelly donuts. Although there were cases of yummy looking pastries and muffins and other kinds of bread, we never once shook up that order of 6 hard rolls and 6 jelly donuts. There were 5 people in my family. I don't know how we arrived at 6 of each, but that was our weekly order from Thelma's Bakery for as long as I can remember. So, assuming we went to 10:45am mass, I was sitting down with the Sunday comics and a buttered roll by noon and feeling the satisfaction of breaking that uncomfortably long fast.
This being my experience with fasting, you can imagine that when I got this little book entitled "Fasting, The Key To Releasing God's Power In Your Life," well, my heart skipped a few beats. I was in a serious church now, full of people who waived their arms during worship and shouted out "Jesus is Lawwwwwwd" and "Allejuia!!" randomly throughout the service. There wasn't going to be any macaroni and cheese on this fast, I just knew it.
So how does running tie into this, you ask. I'm getting to that. I looked at the dates our pastor scheduled this group fast and realized, sadly, that I would be unable to participate because I had a half marathon scheduled - wouldn't you know it - right in the middle of the fast. Well, that certainly excused my participation from this, I thought to myself with a sigh of relief. Afterall, I've been training for this half marathon since December. I can't go out and run my best time with a belly full of alfalfa sprouts, now can I? Surely God wouldn't want me to do that.
Hmmmmm. But then came the first uninvited dart through the hastily erected barrier between me and this fast: is running a half marathon really more important than your relationship with Jesus? Yikes! Where did THAT thought come from? Like a poisonous arrow it struck my stomach and deflated the balloon that was my hope of a PR. Well, no, of course my relationship with Jesus is more important than any half marathon, don't be silly.
But I recovered quickly. "Say, isn't there a time for everything? Isn't there a time to PR on a half marathon? And a time to fast that didn't overlap with the time to run said PR?" I felt good, I had moved to quoting scripture. I thought perhaps Jesus would be impressed by my reliance on His Word, and send me off to run with His blessings: "Go my child, go forth, run the race, and eat a big bowl of Ronzoni pasta with meatballs the night before."
Well it didn't happen that way. Fast forward (no pun intended) a few weeks and I am finishing the first week of a Daniel Fast. This is described as a partial fast taken from Daniel 1:12: "Please test us for ten days on a diet of vegetables and water." As far as I'm concerned, any fast that doesn't include coffee is not a partial fast - it's a whole fast.
So far, I have to admit, despite missing my morning coffee...and afternoon coffee...and sometimes after dinner coffee...this is going better than I expected. I think the biggest challenge is probably making sure I have enough bathrooms along the route on my training runs....and if you've ever done the Daniel Fast, I think you get what I'm trying to say.
Stay tuned for updates.