Need I say more? The substance that basically every mom starts her day. Get on Instagram and I feel like every mom blogger cites “coffee lover” “addicted to coffee” or some other caffeine reference in their bio. We meet for coffee, discuss our love of coffee, and survive because of coffee. I am no different, but about a month ago I was challenge to fast. Having already cut gluten, dairy, sugar, and processed foods out of my diet and being a nursing mom, there wasn’t much more I could fast from except….COFFEE. What?! How could I possibly survive without this magic potion that allows me to be a functioning human after only 3 hours of interrupted sleep? Yet, Jesus commands us to fast and I felt convicted, so my 21 day coffee fast began.
But first….Hot Lemon Water?
Stepping into church one Sunday morning I had no idea what we would be challenged to do. Our pastor was speaking on the church’s word of the year, honor, and talked about ways we can honor God in our lives. We discussed Matthew 6: 16-18:
“When you fast, do not look somber as the hypocrites do, for they disfigure their faces to show others they are fasting. Truly I tell you, they have received their reward in full. 17 But when you fast, put oil on your head and wash your face, 18 so that it will not be obvious to others that you are fasting, but only to your Father, who is unseen; and your Father, who sees what is done in secret, will reward you.”
A few key points that were made about this passage:
- The assumption is that fasting WILL take place (“When you fast…”). I hadn’t really considered this before and had zero experience fasting, so I found it interesting that Jesus assumes that his followers will participate in fasting.
- Don’t let others know you are fasting (“…do not look somber as the hypocrites do…”). I liked this because I wanted to be sure I was fasting for the right reasons and not for praise or attention. So, I was thankful to know that it could be kept between myself and a few key people.
- The text says, “…your Father, who sees what is done is secret, WILL reward you” (Emphasis added). I found this part very compelling and more incentive to try it.
The teaching went on to talk about how we can utilize fasting to reset our relationship with God and seek his guidance in our lives.
Simultaneous to this teaching, I was feeling extreme anxiety about our home search. Many of you know that we are STILL looking for a house. I really thought that we would be settled in our own home by now and every time we see a house that doesn’t work out I get so disappointed. My anxiety about the house hunt was coming to a head when I heard this sermon and I quickly realized that I was not giving our house hunt over to God. I was not trusting Him in the process or trusting His timing. All these realizations and points above lead me to desire a fast in order to seek God and reset my heart to be in tune with His direction in my life.
So, Monday the fast began. I thought about having tea instead of coffee, but it didn’t feel right. Having tea felt like I was only following the fast to the letter of the law and not giving up something I really ENJOY and challenging myself to rely on God instead of a hot beverage. I replaced coffee with a cup of hot lemon water.
It was not good.
I know some people LOVE their hot lemon water. I am not one of these people. If I never have it again, that’s okay with me. I really missed my daily cup o’joe, and I was pretty cranky about losing it. I knew it would be hard, but I didn’t think it would be THAT hard. I quickly realized how often I was relying on coffee to get me through a tough morning or a sleepless night instead of coming to God and asking for His divine intervention.
I had the opportunity every morning to tell God, I am choosing YOU over coffee right now.
Folks, it was a rough time in our house. Teddy had to be rocked to sleep for every nap (which was 4 or 5 times per day at this point). Vincent was just being his toddler self, but it grated my nerves. Teddy also started waking up more throughout the night so I was tired. But you know what? God provided through it all. I had the opportunity every morning to tell God, I am choosing YOU over coffee right now.
I was really surprised at the strong hold that my routine and coffee had on me. Every morning I was reminded that I was choosing God, but every morning it was a difficult choice. I really did not like how dependent I had become on a substance. Instead, I wanted to be that dependent on God.
I love this quote from John Piper about fasting, “Ultimately we fast simply because we want God more than we want anything this world has to offer us.” I realized that I wanted God to be my center and my contentment more than I wanted coffee. I learned that God can provide everything I need, whether it be patience with my almost 2 year old or energy after a [very] sleepless night. I do not need earthly things like coffee, food, or chocolate in order to function, but I absolutely need the Lord.
As for the reward, we still haven’t found a house, which was what I hoped God would provide after this time. But, I feel like my reward is greater than any possession or material object might be. My reward is a renewed relationship and connection to God. My reward is the knowledge that God can provide for all my needs and learning to trust Him in new ways. My reward is a fresh spirit and being filled with the Spirit. I have come to realize that these are greater gifts than anything I could ask or imagine.
So, friends, I would encourage you to fast. There are many ways to do so! Whether it be from one meal a day or dessert or coffee. As long as you plan how you will focus your energy while you are fasting, I believe you will see growth and connection with God.
Have any of you ever fasted? What did it look like? What did you learn?