Fasting

I spent the last two days in a Pre-K training and was privileged to meet a new friend.  I quickly discovered that she was of the muslim faith and therefore was fasting during this Ramadan season.  After our conversation about fasting and the meaning of it, I pulled up my email and found an email with “Fasting” in the subject line.  It was from my husband who was on his way home from Zambia via Dubai.  I couldn’t help but chuckle at the timing.  🙂

Our family has experienced quite a bit of change the past 18 months but our calling really has not changed much.  On top of being asked why we foster, people often ask us why my husband doesn’t get another job.  Why is he in the ministry and travel when we have SOOO much going on back on this side of the world?  Is there sacrifice? Do we regret it?

Let my husband explain…

What is fasting? In its simplest form, it is giving up something you need or enjoy for a period of time for a purpose higher than the thing itself.  People fast for a number of reasons – some for religious purposes, some for health reasons, and others for personal motivations.  Here in Dubai at Ramadan, the city is filled with people who are fasting because of a sense of religious duty and commitment to God.

I have been fasting for the last few weeks myself – but with a different kind of fast.  I have been fasting from you and our family.  This fast was not totally intentional on my part (being somewhat dictated by our foster child and basketball and all the other scheduling decisions that led me to be away from you all), but ultimately, it was our decision.  And especially my decision.

So why would I do this?  Why would I essentially “sacrifice” my family for four weeks?  Why would I miss all those basketball games . . . and my wife’s 45th birthday . . . and my foster son’s first birthday . . .  and driving lessons and milkshake runs to Braums and holding my wife in bed and all the other countless things that my mind has tallied over the last 29 days?

There are a few reasons why:

First of all, it is because there are many children who know a far different reality than the one ours do.   Children who may never have the joy of making a late night trip for ice cream, or a father to cheer them on at their games, or a frolicking game of “tickle monster freeze tag’.  In some ways, the love and joy that I experience in my own home are the same motivations that make me willing to leave it for a period of time in order to bring some of this reality to the lives of others.

Second of all, absence does make the heart grow fonder . . . although my heart is pretty fond of you know matter where we are.  However, being separated does give me time to reflect on you and me and our relationship and our family and what we have together.  Almost like a timeout in a basketball game, these times of separation provide time for refocusing, re-evaluating, and rethinking about what is most important and what we can do to maximize every single moment of time that we ARE together.

Third, and perhaps most importantly, I believe that God has called me – and us – to this.  Not that it will always be this way, or that I will always work for Family Legacy or that we will always go to Camp Life, but that, for now, this is where we are, this is where He has placed us, and this is where we will serve Him with as much strength and energy as He will give us.  Paul said in Colossians 1:28 that he was “striving according to God’s power, which mightily works within me.”  This is the paradox of the Christian life – the fact that WE must strive but that HIS power is what empowers the “striving”.  Although I miss you and our family greatly when we are apart, the “striving” according to  God’s power at work in me is what I was created for – what we were created for.

Of course, I have another calling – husband – which is not in any way superseded or downplayed by my calling as “African missionary”.  I also have another calling – father – that is also vitally important.  Neither of these things are placed beneath the calling of my career . . . but at the same time, neither do they trump it in every situation.  The long commute, the weeks apart, the support raising – all are challenges to our family that come with the territory of my calling and can at times create a tension between the values that we hold most important – values that can sometimes be in conflict with one another.

So while I may not enjoy fasting from you and our family, I do see that there is a reasons behind it – and that this too is part of the process of who God is making us to be.  Throughout the sleepless, lonely nights and the long hours of working with children on both sides of the world (or behind a computer screen, as the case may be), God takes each of those moments when our trust and obedience are in Him and ultimately works them out into something that is good for us and for His glory.

Nevertheless . . . I am thrilled that “breakfast” is coming when I get to break my fast and enjoy you all once again.  I am savoring it, I am tasting it, I can feel it as I take you up in my arms and kiss you and hold you and squeeze you and wrap up 29 days of longing into one long, lingering embrace.

I am HUNGRY . . . let’s eat!!

Tomorrow at 9:04 AM (according to flight tracker) our fast will be broken!  🙂 

 

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