Jesus just finished teaching his disciples how to pray when he said to them, “And when you fast, do not look gloomy like the hypocrites, for they disfigure their faces that their fasting may be seen by others.” (Matthew 6:16a)
I dig how Jesus went ahead and offered this information up seemingly without being asked. It comes off like, “This is how you pray… and while I’m thinking about it, here’s another thing that drives me nuts…”
In the fuller context, Jesus explains what he means. I particularly like how Matthew 6:16-18 reads in :
“When you practice some appetite-denying discipline to better concentrate on God, don’t make a production out of it. It might turn you into a small-time celebrity but it won’t make you a saint. If you ‘go into training’ inwardly, act normal outwardly. Shampoo and comb your hair, brush your teeth, wash your face. God doesn’t require attention-getting devices. He won’t overlook what you are doing; he’ll reward you well.”
I’m about a week into food month of [the 7 project], and I’m hungry. It didn’t take long for my diet of mostly eggs, toast, and rice and beans to leave me wanting more.
I know that I’m getting enough to eat. But I can’t shake of the desire for more. I’m used to going any time I want to the cabinet or refrigerator, and selecting something from the dozens of options set before me.
While I’m trying to be all spiritual, and think of something awesome to pray that’ll open up the Heavens, it’s this passage in Matthew that I can’t seem to shake right now.
I guess I need to check my attitude.
I’m really trying not to have the grumpy-face while I’m striving for super-spiritual greatness. Sure there’s discomfort. But if anything, the discomfort is starting to remind me how comfortable my life has gotten. This is what’s breaking my heart. When I think about the people my meals were intended to remind me of, part of me doesn’t want to be comfortable. In fact, I want nothing more than to get uncomfortable.
Something is happening inside me right now that’s undeniable.
And as I read (and study) this passage from Matthew, it’s not the grumpy-face part that ends up standing out. It’s that last statement when Jesus says, “He won’t overlook what you are doing; he’ll reward you well.”
He knows. He knows. And He’s paying attention to what’s happening in my life right now. That alone has the power to knock the grumpy off my face, and leave me smiling.
Thank you Daddy, thank you for noticing. I promise to make you proud.