Fasting is a discipline that I try to participate in at least once a year, and typically during Lent, but this past week I have participated in a different kind of fast. I’ve fasted from having a wife.
Early on in my attempts to fast I would plan a huge Break-fast event and found that in reality I couldn’t eat that much. As my fasting matured I became more sensitive to the abundance and necessity of food.
I’ve been away from my wife before, and she’s even been away from me for four or five days. This; however, is the first time I’ve had to get kids to games, practices, and church. The first time to manage the chaos of after school homework. The first time to pack lunch, do hair, pick out clothes, bathe kids, and fix breakfast all at the same time. The first time to make sure that the food would be there for those activities. The first time to do mountains of laundry and to make sure chores are done.
I used to think fasting was about not doing, but in reality I have learned this week that it is about doing without.
My admiration, appreciation, and commitment to my wife and kids has grown tremendously. My sensitivity to the single parent scenario has reached a peak. My aversion to divorce has only grown stronger.
A week without…you should try it.
Last week we went to Walt Disney World for Fall Break. We scheduled the trip in the Spring because we were being offered a deal that put us in the amount we felt like we could budget, and it fell on the week we would be out of school. It was a tremendous week weather-wise and family wise. We created lots of memories.
For those of you that know my wife, Kristi, you know she squeezes every second out of every minute out of every hour out of every day. So, we were at the parks from open to close for six days. I wish I had monitored how much I walked in those six days.
So, day six comes around and we are meeting my brother, Paul, and his family at the Magic Kingdom. We woke up early so we could pack the car and get to the park when it opened. Kristi and the kids rode the tram and I took the car, but I wanted to get my last cup of coffee for the week before racing to meet the family.
I drove quickly, but in my mind safely and found a handicapped spot that I would only occupy for two or three minutes at the most as I entered the hotel cafeteria to get that precious cup of Joe. As I exited the vehicle a resort employee called to me from behind. I thought I was going to get checked for a handicapped tag. Instead the encounter went something like this…
Disney employee: “Sir, do you have a moment?”
Disney Employee: “I watched as you sped across three lanes of parking, and I just wanted to ask you to slow down in the parking lots because we do have a lot of children at the resort.”
Me: “You’re right.”
Thankfully, my ears were open and my response was appropriate. I was caught and there was no reason to defend. So, not only did I slow down, but as soon as the encounter was over I moved the car into an appropriate spot in a slow and deliberate manner and then I went in to get my coffee.
I wish I had gotten the guys name, because the way I was gently corrected left little room for me to be confrontational or belligerent. In that moment, I humbly had to confess that I was caught up in what I wanted to happen that day. While I felt like I was being careful what would have happened if a kid sped into my way? I could do nothing but thank the Lord for the reminder. Needless to say the rest of the day was lived in thankfulness and with a servant-like attitude toward my family and others.
As I have reflected upon that moment I have come to grips with how often and how easy it is for the circumstances of life to turn my gaze from Christ. I have to confess that I like to win arguments, I like to be right, I don’t like it when my integrity and authority are questioned, and I become angry pretty quickly when I make plans and there is an interference.
That one encounter with a gentle correction not only changed how I lived the day, but has carried over into how I am living this week as a single father of five. It also has given me new confidence in the Word of God.
So, be on guard my friends. Even when you have what may seem to be legitimate and pure motives your hearts may have selfish ones, and when that is the case ask the Lord to bring you a gentle rebuke.
“Gentle words are a tree of life; a deceitful tongue crushes the spirit. A soothing tongue is a tree of life, But perversion in it crushes the spirit.” Proverbs 15:4