I am reading Isaiah 58 again and again and thinking about the rhythms and step by step processes we can fall into as people.
Food isn't the problem. Having food and water is a blessing that many live without. God wants broken chains. Not appearances or expectations based on merit.
Listen with me...
"Yet they seek me daily and delight to know my ways, as if they were a nation that did righteousness and did not forsake the judgment of their God; they ask of me righteous judgments; they delight to draw near to God.
'Why have we fasted, and you see it not? Why have we humbled ourselves, and you take no knowledge of it?'
Behold, in the day of your fast you seek your own pleasure, and oppress all your workers. Behold, you fast only to quarrel and to fight and to hit with a wicked fist. Fasting like yours this day will not make your voice to be heard on high. Is such the fast that I choose, a day for a person to humble himself? Is it to bow down his head like a reed, and to spread sackcloth and ashes under him? Will you call this a fast, and a day acceptable to the LORD? Is not this the fast that I choose: to loose the bonds of wickedness, to undo the straps of the yoke, to let the oppressed go free, and to break every yoke? Is it not to share your bread with the hungry and bring the homeless poor into your house; when you see the naked, to cover him, and not to hide yourself from your own flesh? Then shall your light break forth like the dawn, and your healing shall spring up speedily; your righteousness shall go before you; the glory of the LORD shall be your rear guard. Then you shall call, and the LORD will answer; you shall cry, and he will say, 'Here I am.' If you take away the yoke from your midst, the pointing of the finger, and speaking wickedness, if you pour yourself out for the hungry and satisfy the desire of the afflicted, then shall your light rise in the darkness and your gloom be as the noonday. And the LORD will guide you continually and satisfy your desire in scorched places and make your bones strong; and you shall be like a watered garden, like a spring of water, whose waters do not fail. And your ancient ruins shall be rebuilt; you shall raise up the foundations of many generations; you shall be called the repairer of the breach, the restorer of streets to dwell in. If you turn back your foot from the Sabbath, from doing your pleasure on my holy day, and call the Sabbath a delight and the holy day of the LORD honorable; if you honor it, not going your own ways, or seeking your own pleasure, or talking idly; then you shall take delight in the LORD, and I will make you ride on the heights of the earth; I will feed you with the heritage of Jacob your father, for the mouth of the LORD has spoken." - Isaiah 58:2-14 ESV
Some shocking promises there.
Fasting is ingenious really because it is a struggle to refrain from something very basic and fundamental. Israel had learned to fast as a religious practice but that was not impressive to God. They turned a 'don't' into a 'do' and then judged God based on the results.
I sit here being bathed in grace thinking, 'What needed to be done has been done. God, I want to fast from my rigid cycles. Help me. Change me.'
How quickly we return to snacking on our old thinking.
No. I want to take my food and give it away instead. I want to look for a way to free someone from the trap they are in. The void needs to be filled but let the step by step process fall away... just for a moment... just for today. I want to live in grace now because now is all I really have.
Then when we face God the merit system is dissolved and communion is fresh and free. Jesus has fulfilled all that needed to be done. God Is with us and we are with God not demanding anything. The sun comes up and our gloom turns into noonday brightness.