“We feast like Sabbath-keepers most days, indiscriminately, and so feasting on the Sabbath has lost much of its richness. It’s just one more big meal.” Mark Buchanan, The Rest of God, 163.
I find myself wondering why I limit my children’s intake of certain foods and activities. I question why…thinking that if I have the ability, the resources, shouldn’t I be free and generous with all things?
Except I notice that the more I give my kids, the more they expect and the more they take for granted and the more they think it’s their right. They are somehow entitled, and it no longer brings joy to be generous.
I’m the same way. I feast daily on the bounty the Lord gives me. I eat and play as if every day were Sabbath-feast day, but this lifestyle leaves me un-full-filled. Not filled. Not full.
I feel lacking and in need of something more when in reality there is abundance on my plate every day.
"Without a fast, it's hard to recognize a feast" ~Dorothy Bass
If I’m lacking anything, I’m lacking the fast.
A fast simplifies and cleanses the palette. It forces me to slow down and think before I do. I’m required to enter into a disciplined lifestyle in order to maintain a fast, and in the fasting, the Lord cuts away the old-woman nature that’s reattached to me in this indiscriminate Sabbath-feasting.
The fast pulls me back and centers me and reminds me that abundance is a blessing, not a right. It makes a feast “feel like gifts again, not rights.” 164.
“Be careful when you eat well…lest you come to expect it. Be careful when those days of testing and refining and humbling and disciplining that hunger brings are long forgotten. I don’t know how else the memory of hunger can be kept alive except by sometimes being hungry. ” 165.“Some quality of life should mark the difference between our days of rest and celebration and our days of toil and production. Times of indulgence mean nothing if all times are that: always eating, never feasting. But if we reserve our feasting for a few occasions, …for times set apart, then each acquires a richer luster, a purer and sweeter tone.”165.
The summer of my 20th year, I went back to Europe to travel on a 3-month, 10-trip Eurorail pass with my fellow-exchange student and friend, Jill. Jill and I had met as exchange students in Palencia, Spain – she a California girl and I a Texas gal. When our exchanges ended, we vowed to return one day to travel together.
And we did, two short years later. She met me in Amsterdam and from there we traveled to Koln>Passau>Bad Griesbach>Munich, Germany to Salzburg>Vienna , Austria to Venice, Italy to Nice, France to Monaco to Barcelona>Palencia>Madrid, Spain. A whirlwind 2-week adventure where we lived mostly on bread and cheese and yogurt.
In Salzburg we stayed at a youth hotel (not hostel - not sure the difference.) Everything in Salzburg closed down by 9 p.m. But not the youth hotel. Heavy draperies covered the windows as the music was turned up and people from all walks of life and countries continued interacting…playing cards, eating, drinking and dancing, sometimes on tables.
Someday I want to tell all about Jill and Heather’s Bodacious Adventures. Today, though, the reason I’m bringing up Salzburg is to tell you about the most amazing omelet I had there. Simply delicious, decadent, divine…my mouth waters still at the thought of it.
Why was this omelet so incredibly scrumptious? It was eggs and cheese and veggies, just like the omelets down at my local IHop.
It was wonderful because, granted, I was eating it in Salzburg, but it was also my first hot meal in a few days and it was a feast compared to the bread and cheese I had been eating.
I’ve had many omelets since, but none compare in flavor or in memory to that one.
The fast prepared me for the feast.
I want...no, I need to live life like that…with an intentionality during the week of getting by with less, of fasting, so that I can enjoy and savor and remember the Sabbath-feast, a feast that doesn’t get lost amidst the abundance in everyday life, but, rather stands out in my memory like that mouth-watering omelet in Salzburg.
Tomorrow I will talk about this with my kids, explaining to them that the reason we fast, the reason we limit their consumption of good things (food, toys, electronics, etc.) is because we want to instill in them the blessing of enjoying, and recognizing, a feast.
We fast to feast.
Deuteronomy 8:2-3, 10-142 Remember how the LORD your God led you all the way in the wilderness these forty years, to humble and test you in order to know what was in your heart, whether or not you would keep his commands. 3 He humbled you, causing you to hunger and then feeding you with manna, which neither you nor your ancestors had known, to teach you that man does not live on bread alone but on every word that comes from the mouth of the LORD.
10 When you have eaten and are satisfied, praise the LORD your God for the good land he has given you. 11 Be careful that you do not forget the LORD your God, failing to observe his commands, his laws and his decrees that I am giving you this day. 12 Otherwise, when you eat and are satisfied, when you build fine houses and settle down, 13 and when your herds and flocks grow large and your silver and gold increase and all you have is multiplied, 14 then your heart will become proud and you will forget the LORD your God, who brought you out of Egypt, out of the land of slavery.