Lent 2020: Devotional On Fasting By Shandon Klein
Shandon Klein is a member of First UMC Richardson and a lay delegate to General Conference
Like many of you, sheltering in place was not quite what I had in mind for a Lenten fast. Often, as we approach Lent, we are given the luxury to prepare and consciously decide what we may give up to honor God or what practices we may commit to in order to hear God’s voice a little more through the noise of our lives. But in this season of Lent, we find ourselves in a very different place. There is no preparation for the loss we are experiencing.
As I meditated on the topic of fasting, my heart kept coming back to Matthew 4:1-2. Right after the amazing scene of Jesus’ baptism and his confirmation by God as God’s son (with whom God was well-pleased, by the way), the same Spirit that fell on Jesus like a dove was the same Spirit that led him to the wilderness to be tempted: in a dry, barren place.
Have you ever felt like you were being led to a place you didn’t want to go? To a feeling you didn’t want to experience? Or maybe, to an action you didn’t want to do? You likely didn’t immediately say, “Sure! Go ahead, take me there,” at least not without a LOT of thought. But Jesus followed wholeheartedly. Not only did Jesus go to the wilderness where he was led, but he fasted. We know from the Devil that tempted him that Jesus could have made bread for himself to eat when he was hungry, but he refused.
Jesus’ answer in Matthew 4:4 reveals a lot. It is not only our physical nourishment or necessities that feed us, but God – our spiritual nourishment – that feeds us right alongside of our God-given provisions. That Spirit that led Jesus to be tempted in a very dry place was the same Spirit that sustained Jesus along the way. It provided and still provides us today – with the endurance to make it through our trials.
While God does not promise that our lives will be absent of temptation, or heartache, or pain, we can rest in the good news that God’s Spirit is with us and will sustain us if we are open to it. We have a choice to recognize the Spirit around us. We can see it and follow … or choose not to.
Do I believe that the Spirit led us into our situation right now? No, I don’t. But I do believe that the story in Matthew 4:1-11 shows that, through our fasting – whether intentional or unintentional – if we hold on and cling to the Spirit, we can find a strength that leads us to angels that comfort us. I pray as we experience our evolving season of Lent that we learn to lean into and trust the Spirit that leads and sustains us in our fasting.
May it be so. Amen.
Published: Tuesday, April 7, 2020