Beginning 2016 with a period of fasting gave me a glimpse of what a God First life truly looks like. I decided to do a vegan fast, abstaining from any food that came from animals. My family and friends wondered how I could possibly pass up my favorite meats and cheeses and stick to just fruits and veggies. Along with a newfound appreciation for potatoes, this weeklong challenge helped me develop full reliance on God’s wisdom, strength, and guidance.
Throughout the week, each conscious decision to choose vegan options drew my awareness back to my purpose for not eating meat. Every hunger pang stopped me in my tracks to come to God and ask Him what he wanted to fill me with instead. About three days into the fast, I was suffering from a splitting headache as my body struggled to adjust to the diet. In these moments, I could do nothing else but cry out to God and ask Him to reveal what He wanted to do in my life. He reassured me about the life-giving virtues that come from putting God first and abiding by His mercy and grace:
“but the Holy Spirit produces this kind of fruit in our lives: love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, and self-control. There is no law against these things!” (Galatians 5:22-23)
With this, God alerted me to some vital areas I needed to take care of in His way and I was led to have some difficult, but necessary conversations with people close to me. Even though I felt weak physically, the Holy Spirit bolstered me with God’s strength and the courage to express myself and make things right. Even in the times when our hope is scarce and our spirits feel weary, He promises to continually nourish our souls for Kingdom glory. I learned that God will get our attention in any way He can to grace us with a greater path and vision for our life.
The truth is, we are born with free will and autonomy to go anywhere we want, act however we please, and choose the words we say. Each trial we face is an opportunity to identify the fruit that God wants to grow in our lives. Every day we can choose to walk with Him and discover the unique and wonderful purpose He has for each and every one of us. Earlier in the passage, we are reminded:
“for you have been called to live in freedom, my brothers and sisters. But don’t use your freedom to satisfy your sinful nature. Instead, use your freedom to serve one another in love” (Galatians 5:13).
In fasting, we ask God to empty us of worldly desires and fill us with His spirit. This can seem like deprivation on the surface, but God does not simply seek to create placeholders for our carnal desires; as we continue to lead the God First life, He gives us more than enough to thrive in the fullness of His love.
“Those who belong to Christ Jesus have nailed the passions and desires of their sinful nature to His cross and crucified them there. Since we are living by the Spirit, let us follow the Spirit’s leading in every part of our lives” (Galatians 5:24).