Tuesday, August 29, 2006

Feast . . . or Fast

Pastor Hank here, folks. As a man of faith, I believe it is important to listen to the Lord when He's telling you something to do. 'Course, sometimes it is going to cost you in ways you don't think about ahead of time.

A few years back, I was praying about some serious issues that the church was facing. I really needed to hear from Him, because He does still speak to His people today. But I was having a hard time getting the time I needed. Life gets busy, and a pastor's on call 24/7, especially in a small town like Kanner Lake.

In the midst of running around one Friday, I felt God tugging on my heart. I pulled over on Lakeside Drive and prayed right there. I've fasted before, but I can't think of a time where I really felt like I needed to fast like this time. No food, just water. Three days. "I can do this, Lord, if this is Your will." Janet was going to be back late from visiting our daughter, so it wasn't hard at all to spend the night praying rather than sitting down to dinner.

Saturday was one of "those" days. Janet and I were going to miss each other all day. I'd promised Mrs. Farris that I'd help move some firewood for her, so I was up early before it got too hot in the late summer heat. Usually I'd meet Janet for lunch and then spend the afternoon in the church office getting ready for Sunday's sermon. This Saturday she had a planning meeting with some of the ladies of church. Didn't quite remember what it was about, but I knew those ladies would have things taken care of right.

I had a good afternoon, just the Lord and me spending time together. Sure, my stomach was rumbling, but I would make it through to Monday morning. For some reason, it was quiet. Hardly any calls slowing me down. I still checked in with Janet and told her I'd miss dinner, which wasn't too unusual on a Saturday night. She said she'd had a busy day and it would help her get ready for tomorrow. I wasn't sure what she meant by that, but I was happy it worked out.

By Sunday morning, I was starting to feel pretty hungry. Didn't help that Janet was already working on something that smelled mighty good. I don't think I had mentioned to her that I was fasting. I hated to tell her I couldn't eat a nice breakfast, but before I saw her the phone rang. Deacon Johanssen called to say a church toilet had overflowed. A pastor's job is never done. You can't have a faulty potty on Sunday morning. I dashed by Janet in the kitchen, blurting out my emergency. On my way out the door, I barely heard, "What about the pic..." Pick? Picture? My mind was focused on plumbing, so whatever it was didn't quite register.

Thankfully my trusty deacon had the emergency under control, so I finished my preparations for the morning. The Sunday school folk arrived, heading downstairs to their classes, while Mrs. Wujcik practiced piano for worship upstairs. I holed up in my office to pray. I felt really prepared to preach, but I was distracted by some delectable odor wafting into the room. One of the ladies must've put a candle on to cover any plumbing smells. Why did they have to pick a tasty one to light?

Church had a sweet spirit to it, and I felt the Lord's hand on me as I preached. Even so, more people than usual were checking their watches. After service, I stood at the door to greet people as they left. Usually Janet is with me, but this time she slipped downstairs.

Funny thing was, most people were heading downstairs instead of streaming to the parking lot. Not having any hands to shake, I slipped down myself to see what was happening.

Bad idea.

About the whole congregation was slipping from the kitchen to the outside entrance, shuttling one delicious item after another outside. The annual church picnic!

Mrs. Baxter called out to me that she'd brought the cheesy potatoes I enjoyed so much last year. Sam Johanssen was hauling out a fresh watermelon for his dad. There was fresh rolls, green salads, potato salads, crock pot pork and beans, chocolate brownies, and so much more. I felt like drowning from so much saliva pumping into my mouth.

As I stood slack jawed, Wilbur slapped me on the back. "Out of the way, Preacher! These fish ain't gettin' on the grill by themselves." I turned and saw the ol' coot with a cooler full of trout. "Been fishin' every day for the past 2 weeks to get enough for the picnic. Don't worry, I'll save a big one for you," he grinned as he elbowed me while walking past. My gut let out a big rumble thinking about those trout!

The coup de grace was when I turned back to see my dear Janet pulling out the last of three fresh huckleberry pies out of the oven. My favorite. I about died right there, thinking about missing out on the yearly church feast because of my vow to fast.

Wives know when something is wrong with their husbands, so Janet slipped up to me and asked what was wrong. When I explained my dilemma, she gave me a sympathetic squeeze. "You know that you have to fulfill what you said you'd do. But don't have a long face. I think I can scoop up some of your favorites on a plate with some tinfoil for tomorrow."

The Lord gave me grace to sit and chat with people while they were busy chowing down on the spread. More than a few got a chuckle out of my timing for the fast. I can report that I made it through that day without further temptation. I feel like I received the guidance that I was praying about, and learned about putting off our desires.

'Course, the next day that huckleberry pie tasted awfully good!

--Hank Detcher

Posted by ~ Bailey Truitt @ 7:00 AM
I've never understood this Christian idea of a fast. Why do you do it? At any rate, I admire your self-control.
Posted by Anonymous elizabeth monty : 8:04 AM
Good question Elizabeth. Sometimes we're asked to sacrifice. Sometimes it doesn't always make sense to us. It's an act of obediance. I've been asked to fast before too and I blew it day two. I was just so hungry. I hope if I ever feel that tug again, I'll do better.

Posted by Anonymous Anonymous : 11:37 AM
Never fasted a day in my life, although I'm a church-goer. Maybe I ought to start. Wouldn't hurt the old waistline...
Posted by Anonymous fred wiley : 11:45 AM
I'm no preacher or anything, but last year in our high school youth group we studied about fasting. When you're hungry, you feel it and you think about it. So if you're purposely not eating in order to pray hard about something, when you feel the hunger you're reminded to pray. Does that make any sense?

I tried it once. I only skipped a lunch and dinner, but I was really hungry by that night. I sort of think it worked. It did help me pray.

On another subject--when is S-Man up again?
Posted by Anonymous carly suggs : 11:50 AM
Fasting is a very personal subject for me. I always thought we kept it to ourselves when we did it but you know more about it than I. It's not easy, is it? Not that I've done it. Or not done it. I'm not saying either way. . . oh why did I comment?
Posted by Anonymous Angie : 3:30 PM
Angie, you said fasting is personal. The Good Book says not to let men know when you're doing it. The point was to not go around bragging about what you were doing - seems like it nullified what you were tryin' to do.

When you have to be at the annual church picnic and you can't eat, people notice. And since this was a bit of a challenge, I thought sharing about it would encourage people about letting God lead them in things. Hope that explanation helps!
Posted by Anonymous Hank Detcher : 3:37 PM
I fasted once in high school as a part of the 40-hour Famine, but wasn't really great at it. I loves me some food! ;)

Now I'm faced with the fact that as an adult, I'm hypoglycemic and must keep my blood sugar level with regular eating. To me, fasting for God would be going without the Internet (gasp!) or TV, because those two things are right up there with eating but wouldn't hurt my health.

In my opinion, your motive is more important to God than the thing that you give up for that period of time.
Posted by Blogger Becca : 7:02 AM
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