So…I am obviously a big fat liar. Since the books I read are unquestionably much more interesting than my life, I find myself once again inspired to write by something I read. Even though I said I wouldn’t. Oh well. I’m just going to go with it. The Guernsey Literary and Potato Peel Pie Society by Mary Ann Shaffer and Annie Barrows takes place in the UK in 1946 as residents were still finding their new normal following the end of WWII. The practice of rationing caught and held my attention as I read. So much so that I did a little research online. During the Second World War, the UK imported about 70% of its cheese and sugar, nearly 80% of fruits and about 70% of cereals and fats. It also brought in more than 50% of its meat and relied heavily on imported feed to support its domestic meat production. Because of this, one of the principal strategies of the Germans was to attack shipping bound for Britain. The shortages were sometimes extreme, so citizens had to register at selected stores, which would provide them a coupon book redeemable for certain goods in certain amounts. Many items that were considered luxuries were simply done without. (All percentages found on wikipedia – so you know they are accurate.)
The book club that this novel revolves around became desperate for sweets to serve at their meetings while under strict sugar rationing. One member experimented with potatoes, which were in large supply. He fashioned a pie filling from mashed potatoes sweetened with beet juice (yuck!) and a crust from the potato peelings. I’m struggling to hold down my afternoon snack just thinking about it. In fact, I struggle to picture myself – or anyone I know for that matter – adhering well to forced depravation. Most members of our culture can’t even limit the many things we have deemed “necessities” for the sake of staying within our own budget, much less for the sake of our country. Even if we were embroiled in another World War, I cannot imagine that we as a country and individuals would do anything but cement ourselves further and further in debt to maintain the lifestyles to which we have become accustomed. I am including myself in this spoiled lot. I would definitely not be the first one to the Ministry of Food office (as it was called in the UK) volunteering in a flash of patriotism to give up my creature comforts.
Likely because some Christians are in a season of Lent, the talk of rationing turned my mind to fasting. One is a government imposed sanction and the other, a self-imposed discipline,;but I can’t control the winding pathways of my brain. Many Christians give up something for Lent (the 40 days leading up to Easter). This is a form of fasting – denying yourself a person, place or thing for the sake of turning your focus to the death and resurrection of Jesus. It was not common in the denomination of my upbringing to observe Lent, but I have done it occasionally as an adult. I choose not to do it every year for fear that it would become a ritual with no true significance. Instead, I have only fasted from something for Lent when I felt a strong calling from God to do so. My main experience with fasting has been fasting from food (although it could be a variety of other things). When Shelby was small, I instituted the habit of fasting from all solid foods for a 24 hour period once a week to focus on praying for her healing. Her non-stop seizures and repeated hospital stays drove me to seek my Heavenly Father like never before. I can’t pretend like my fasts were always done with the right spirit OR that Shelby was healed as a result. But fasting isn’t really about results. It’s about relationship, and I had some sweet times of fellowship and some hard, but needed lessons in trusting Him.
I have noticed that oftentimes Christians will get uncomfortable and even defensive when I talk about fasting. Even if I am just speaking of my own experiences, others often feel compelled to give me their list of excuses for why they don’t fast. Let’s face it. It’s inconvenient – and sometimes painful. But no more so for us than for all those who fasted in the bible. I would NEVER insinuate that what God is calling me to do, He is also calling you to. So I don’t need to hear why anyone doesn’t fast. That is between each individual and God. But I am starting to examine my own excuses. For reasons that I won’t bore you with, I discontinued my weekly practice a few years ago, and have only occasionally returned to this well. But I feel God calling me back into a season of regularly depriving myself for the sake of gaining more of Him. If you would like to learn more about this topic and look at associated scriptures, I will refer you to a blog from my church and one from a friend that I have found very helpful. Click here and here. And have a blessed Easter remembering that He Lives!