This is part of a syndicated series for Lent 2019 with Harvard’s Christian Journal Ichthus. Visit Ichthus at http://www.harvardichthus.org
By Serena Puang, Davenport ’22.
In high school, I was always busy. My Saturdays were filled with debate tournaments, band competitions, and rushing around trying to do homework in between. I thought I would have time in college to rest, but something about having the freedom to organize my own schedule didn’t pan out the way I hoped. I spent a lot more time doing work than I wanted to, and I felt like I didn’t even have time to eat in dining halls, much less “take a break” as everyone told me to do. I was tired, but it would be worth it right?
It’s so easy to fall into a routine of busy-ness. Deadlines are constantly around the corner, opportunities are floating around waiting to be grasped, and there’s always someone you’re supposed to catch up with. Our lives are filled with noise, and that’s why youth groups, churches, and fellowships across the nation flock to retreat centers. I’ve loved my times there. Something about getting away from the chaos of life is really life giving, and I know so many people who have heard from God while at retreat (myself included). It just bothered me that sometimes, that’s the only place people feel like they hear from God. We pray for God to “meet us” up on the mountain, and we ignore that He’s there with us all the time. Why is it that I could read my Bible for two hours at a retreat but the aspect of doing so at home seemed out of the realm of possibility? I thought a lot about that at Winter Retreat this year. At the October Retreat the semester before, I resolved to have a morning a month that I spent with God–just reading my Bible for like 3 hours and praying; three months later, I had yet to actually follow through. During winter retreat, we talked about spiritual disciplines, and fasting in particular stood out to me. My roommate (who’s a Muslim) has talked throughout the year about the fasting she does for Ramadan, and I realized I’ve never truly fasted anything. Christian fasting calls us to empty ourselves so we can turn toward the things of God and be filled with Him. Through the process of fasting, we learn to depend on God more and trust Him in ways we probably wouldn’t otherwise.
I wanted to try it, so I decided that I wanted to observe the Sabbath (for me, this is sundown Friday to sundown on Saturday but people do it differently) and fast from working for 24 hours each week. I told some friends and my roommate to keep me accountable, and that next Friday, I worked like crazy up till the sun went down, and then when it did, I shut my computer mid-sentence and went to go to an inter ministry worship night. It wasn’t easy the first time, but on my second week, I kind of got excited as the sun started to set, and by the fifth week, I shut my computer half an hour early. The thing is, I thought I was making a big sacrifice giving up my time so I could do things like prepare for leading Bible study through prayer or eat dinner with friends I haven’t seen in a while or have my 3 hour quiet time Saturday morning, but instead, God has used that time to bless me, give me rest, and help me grow in my faith. My fast from working has given me opportunities to be a good friend to those I may be too busy to chat with otherwise. It’s made time for me to meet non-Yale members of my church and for me to pray over big life decisions like what to do with my summer. All this time I thought I was struggling to give a gift to God, but it turns out that He was trying to give a gift to me.