Through out my life, I have looked to those I considered wiser and holier and strived to be like them. I have prayed to be like St. Paul when he writes that he was content always, no matter his circumstances, with both a little or a lot. That to me was the mark of true maturity. By God's grace, I have recently gotten to experience having a “little.”
My home is under extensive renovation. Typically, as these things go, the project is not on schedule. We are presently living in an empty rental with the bare necessities: three blow up mattresses, an outdoor dining table in my kitchen, six of everything (forks, knives, spoons, etc.) and a lonely-looking wicker settee in my living room. What I asked for, as a gift for my birthday, was a can opener. Yes! It is true! And I honestly can say, I would have been elated if that were the only present I had received. (I will tell you, this experience has taught me a great deal about what you really need in life. I have found you don't need nearly as much as you think you do…but you do need a CAN OPENER!)
At first, I was perturbed by my circumstances. We had moved five times in only a few short months. (That would be my husband, two of my four kids, the cat, and myself. The fish stayed put.) I was starting to feel like a tortoise carrying my home around on my back from place to place. Although I was very thankful for each and every short-term nest that God so graciously provided for us, it eventually became clear to me that my unsettledness was about much more than the house. This exercise was about something that God wanted to do deep in my soul-- something that could only take place through, as Christ says, "prayer and fasting."
In prayer, I felt the Lord saying to me, "So, how do you like this fast?" It was a very interesting question, as I had not thought of my repeated moves as a fast--just a MAJOR inconvenience. The Lord continued, "You like to fast, when you like to fast, how you like to fast, where you like to fast-- the fasts of your choosing. How do you like the fast not of your choosing?"
I was a bit caught off guard. Hmmm... could I see this, and any situation that I deemed "less than ideal", as a fast not of my choosing-- as something I could offer up to Him, something He could use for the benefit of my soul and for the good of a particular purpose or person?
Not many years ago, when I was discerning about becoming a Catholic, the Lord taught me the value of fasting. I had always thought highly of it, especially when others were doing it!
For me, when I fast, it is somewhat akin to the tide washing out of my soul. I am able to see clearly all of the "shells" that are left on my beach. Or recently, it has felt more like a nice coat of paint thinner stripping off all of the shiny veneer to expose the "rusted spots" that need tending--things in need of cleaning out, repair work, in-filling and slicking up, that only God can do.
I now had a choice as to how to deal with my circumstances. I could either complain and grumpily suffer through this lean period, or use it as an excuse to not do all I felt He had asked me to do this fall. You know, I could play the "victim" OR I could see it as time for an "up-grade".
God always means things for our good. Always.
Was I willing to see this time as a fast as unto The Lord and let Him do what He does best during these times, though it was not a fast of my choosing, or did I want to pout and hold my breath and kick and scream until I got my way?
I have chosen the former, and I must say, I feel lighter already, there is a great deal to be said for keeping it simple.
"Therefore, since we are surrounded by so great a cloud of witnesses, let us rid ourselves of every burden and sin that clings to us and persevere in running the race that lies before us." Hebrews 12:1
Please give me the grace to see all things as for my good. When I encounter situations that are less than ideal in my estimation, may I see them as "a fast as unto The Lord." Let me be able to offer You the fasts of my choosing, and the fast not of my choosing, as if they were the same. May they have redemptive purposes for me and for others. May I not waste one minute of suffering by looking at it with human eyes as "unproductive" or "a major inconvenience." Give me spiritual eyes to see and the grace to choose to do things your way, and in, through, and by them be transformed to more resemble You.
I ask this in the name of the Father, the Son and the Holy Spirit. Amen.