My Wordspace

A dumpster full of various musings over life, God, scripture, and any random thought that may fly by meanwhile. Comments welcome.

Fasting – A Lesson In Resisting Temptation

Posted by Iszi on October 10, 2004

Greetings, Readers.

As I have mentioned before, since my wife has been gone I have been slammed with a wave of temptation towards acts that easier for me to resist when she is here. I won’t sugar-coat this, now. It comes right down to porn and masturbation. It’s something that I had let run rampant in my life long before I got married, and for some time after. At one point, for several months recently, I had full control over these desires and was able to steer clear of everything. But the past (three, now?) weeks have been harsh.

I’ve been sexually deprived, and could not rest in the reassurance that relief may be available within a few short hours, or days depending on how our moods and schedules worked out. No, relief is still several weeks away. Also, there’s fewer people in the house for me to have to worry about being “caught”. So, for the first two weeks of this abscence period, I found myself succumbing to the temptations, although every time I would beat myself up over it (not physically, mind you) afterwards. I hate the compulsion that leads me to these things, and yet I had not the strength to consistently resist it.

Then something came to my mind. I don’t know how or why, but I had another compulsion coming forward now. This one, however, was not of Satan and sin. This was the re-arising of a desire to do something that had helped me feel spiritually free in the past. I wanted to fast. Now, when most people consider fasting, they think it means going off of food for a few days or so. Some people do this kind of fasting as a regular practise and exercise of their Spirit. For me, however, that is just not an option. I’m 6 feet tall on a thin frame, weighing in at 129 pounds. I can’t afford to go without food for much more than 12 hours (and that’s sleeping), let alone a whole day.

So for me, as well as many others, fasting has a slightly different meaning. Instead of going without food for days on end, they’ll choose to avoid some other compulsory behavior or desire that they have. It may be food-related, or not. Some may fast off of chocolate, some might stay away from the TV or computer. There’s all kinds of ways to fast, as long as it is something that you have to constantly consciously make your mind up not to do.

What, then, am I fasting away from? After reading the first part of this post, you may assume porn and masturbation. But that’s not something to be fasted from, that’s something to be avoided altogether regardless. Yet, at the same time that is obviously my end goal, right? So, my fasting is targeted towards assisting me in that. In a sense, it’s a temporary aversion from one thing, to accompany and aid in the permanent aversion of another. When I fast, for the second time now, I’m fasting off caffeine and other forms of artificially made stimulants. I used to be big-time hooked on Mountain Dew Code Red. I used to drink between one and two liters of Code Red throughout each work shift, occasionally downing a SoBe Adrenaline Rush in low-energy emergencies (i.e.: working a shift after already having been up for 24+ hours).

Some had said I was addicted to the stuff, which I may have been. One day, at the last Men’s Encounter that I attended, Pastor Rob saw me walking down a hallway with a 1-liter Mountain Dew Code Red in tow, as I almost always had one by my side during those days. He said “I’m going to pray that you get delivered from that this weekend.” In the middle of the Saturday of that Encounter, (Encounters start Friday nights, and run to Sunday morning) my three-liter supply for the weekend had run dry, and the hotel’s convenience store didn’t carry any. So, I decided to take Rob’s word as a challenge. I got some lemonade to help my praising voice last the days, and that’s all I had to drink for the rest of the Encounter. For a month afterwards, I stayed off all drink-based caffeine (couldn’t keep entirely away from the caffeine that naturally comes in chocolate) by supplementing my liter-sized Code Reds with liter-sized Aquafina, proving that drinking Code Red was no longer an addiction, but a choice of habit.

After that month, I slowly started to slip back into keeping a regular supply of Code Red handy as I used to. Once in awhile, I’d go for the water instead, but Code Red was again my habitual choice. So now, to accompany my re-establishment of abstinence from sexual sin, I am once again fasting off caffeine and artificial stimulants (i.e.: the aforementioned SoBe Adrenaline Rush). The closest I have come to breaking this so far has been one relatively small dose of Ginseng the other night, upon the insistence of one of my concerned co-workers. Since it is a natural herbal supplement, I do not consider this a breakage, but also am not going to be making it a habit.

Through this period of fasting now, (which has lasted a week and a day today) I have come to realize what the real purpose behind fasting is. Most will say it is to help weaken your flesh, in order to allow the Spirit to strengthen within you better. While I agree with that, I also believe there’s a psychological aspect to it that can actually aid those struggling with sin.

As stated before, fasting is abstaining from any activity or indulgence which you would habitually do, and have to make a conscious and willful decision on a regular basis not to do. Now, what is sin? Willful disobedience to God. That means that every time you sin, you are taking that opportunity to make a conscious decision to follow the desires that lead you towards that sin. That also means that every time you are presented with that opportunity, there’s also the choice available that leads away from sin. The conscious decision to follow God’s will and not succumb to Satan’s wishes for your life.

Given that parralel, one can gather that not only is fasting a strengthening of the Spirit, commonly in preparation for prayer or some heavy trials. It’s also training to resist sinful temptations. I can’t imagine what it must be like to have to constantly resist one of the most primal natural urges and bodily needs – to eat. That has got to be the ultimate training grounds for one to learn to resist any form of sinful urge. Especially for those that fast for days on end like that.

So, I’ve decided now that I will continue this period of fasting until my wife returns. After that, you can bet Code Red will be back at my side, although once in awhile substituted with a liter of Aquafina. But I do not by any means intend for the end of my fasting to be the end of my resistence to these sins that have plagued my life for so long.

– Iszi

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