Our body is the temple of the Holy Spirit [1 Corinthians 3:16]. One thing I have recognised, is how intrinsically linked the health of our body can be to the health of our spirit. In the last month, I have been exhausted, even though I did not initially know this. In retrospect, I see how resting my body also revitalised my spirit and my soul. When I rest my body, I actually allow space for the Spirit of God to work in and through me. When my body is well-rested and healthy, I find I dance, sing and am full of joy throughout the day. I love speaking to people, and the praises of my King are quite literally on my lips and in my mind all day. When I am tired and worn out, the songs dry up, my mouth fails to declare my heart’s intent, and my mind dozes from its passion in Christ. Sure, I can overcome this in some ways – but while God gives grace, it is not the same as taking proper responsibility for the care of my body.
Imagine going into the midst of battle, without sleep, or rest for our bodies. Would we be able to keep watch for God’s command, or fight the battle well? God knows the importance of rest. He rested after he had created. He ordained the Sabbath as a day of rest from work. He gave Israel instruction to rest from work, and provided food and water so they would be nourished, even in the desert. He encouraged Elijah to rest and eat for the journey ahead when he was discouraged and weary.
Moreover, I am the vessel of the Lord. 2 Timothy 2:21 says:
“Therefore if anyone cleanses himself from the latter (dishonor and iniquity), he will be a vessel for honor, sanctified and useful for the Master, prepared for every good work.”
The Bible speaks about how we can be aware of the influences around us – what goes into our body, into our minds, what we surround ourselves with, and what we allow to guide us. Eating bad foods and lack of exercise will impact the health of our body. Watching, listening to or reading ungodly things will impact on the health of our mind. Resting in the presence of God, however, allows the Spirit of God to transform our hearts and minds. Doing this intentionally brings our bodies, and our minds under the authority of God – we submit our bodies, and our lives to Him for His glory.
I beseech you therefore, brethren, by the mercies of God, that you present your bodies a living sacrifice, holy, acceptable to God, which is your reasonable service. And do not be conformed to this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind, that you may prove what is the good and acceptable and perfect will of God.” – [Romans 12:1-2]
The purpose of fasting relates to our longing for the Bridegroom’s return. People invest in all sorts of diets nowadays that will strengthen and refresh the body. What about our spiritual diet? We can have so many different attitudes when it comes to fasting and sometimes we just need to stop and remember the reason why we are fasting. I know I have sometimes felt like I am fasting out of habit, and yet at other times I have struggled to keep a fast. Fasting for the sake of fasting does nothing. When we fast, we empty ourselves to receive more of God, we allow His Spirit to work in us, we seek the face of God, our Bridegroom King, and we cry out for His kingdom to come. Isaiah 58 5-6 says,
“Is it a fast that I have chosen;
A day for a man to afflict his soul?
Is it to bow down his head like a bulrush,
And to spread out sackcloth and ashes?
Would you call this a fast,
And an acceptable day to the Lord?
Is this not the fast that I have chosen:
To loose the bonds of wickedness,
To undo the heavy burdens,
To let the oppressed go free,
And that you break every yoke?”
Fasting is not about our going without, and showing our affliction. Fasting is about yearning and calling forth the things of God. It is part of our spiritual diet, along with ensuring we are well fed with God’s word, and well-watered by His Spirit. This passage in Isaiah highlights how fasting looses the bonds of wickedness, breaks every yoke and lets the oppressed go free. When we fast from food, we give our body a chance to “detox”. At the same time, as we press into God, strongholds are been broken, and we can be set free from spiritual “toxins”. Fasting positions us to focus on God, and also equips us for spiritual battle – it is both a defense and a weapon.
I want to place my body and my life under God’s authority, to give Him my best, and to submit all I am to Him. Physical and emotional rest are important for my body and I want to be mindful of what I allow to influence the health of my body and my spirit. When I fast, I do not fast to the visible detriment of my body, but for unseen spiritual battles. I want to be prepared for every good work, and sanctified for all of God’s purposes. Resting my physical body and taking care of it, is part of this preparation.
Now here’s another song – Psalm 121 with bit of gospel, scat and dance to celebrate 😛