This week I began the first phase of The 7 Experiment along with a handful of other brave volunteers from The Hill. The subtitle for the book is “An Experimental Mutiny Against Excess”. It’s a bible study based on the book 7 by Jen Hatmaker that challenges readers to fast from 7 different areas of their lives over a 7 week period. Each fast is meant as an exercise to not just get our lives more in order, but to make more room for God in our lives and examine how we are responding to the world around us.
The first week of the experiment is a fast from food. It’s not a strict fast. Instead you are allowed to eat 7 and only 7 foods for the week.
It’s Thursday. And I’m hungry. And I can’t stop wondering:
How did they do it?
Ever since I’ve had a car and expendable income I’ve been a fast food addict. Buying my own house a few years ago only abetted my addiction. It’s gotten to the point where I might cook for myself a handful of times a week and the majority of my other purchases come from eating out.
This week, with only 7 foods to choose from, eating out has not been an option. The 7 Experiment challenges you to consider the foods you are eating. This means not putting chocolate and peanut butter and coffee and Zaxby’s Chicken Fingers on my list. Instead, the book teaches you about the value of a more natural, simple, biblically- based diet.
So for this week my foods for have been chicken, bread (homemade for the most part), apples, bananas, potatoes, broccoli, and green beans. A perfectly hearty and nutritious and delicious diet, right?
Except each day so far has been a struggle. I’m not proud to admit this.
The challenge is not so much in doing my own cooking or in the foods I selected.
The challenge has been in resisting everyday temptations. I can’t drive anywhere without passing at least a dozen fast food restaurants. I can’t walk into the grocery store, convenience store, or drug store without being tempted by a Coke and a candy bar. I can’t walk upstairs to the youth room at the church without being intoxicated by the scent of coffee and cookies. All this time I’m wondering:
How did they do it?
How did those heroes of the Bible – the Noahs, the Abrahams, the Sarahs, the Jacobs – stand their ground against the tests of temptation? How could they have possibly remained so secure, so rooted in their beliefs? My daily chronological Bible plan has had me in Genesis for the past week reading the tales of these titans of the Bible, and I don’t think it’s an accident.
How did they do it?
They did it by faith.
As I struggle with the temptation of a Cajun Filet Biscuit and Seasoned Fries, I read each day about these men and women standing strong in their convictions despite not seeing the outcome. Each day I’m reminded of how trivial my problems are and how great my God is through the stories of Noah and the ark, Abraham and Sarah’s pregnancy, and Jacob’s journey. Each disregarded concern for their comforts, for their friends, for their family, for their own livelihood to walk out in faith upon the calling of God.
And God blessed those who walked in faith with Him, especially those who suffered along the way. As I read this week in Matthew Henry’s commentary on Genesis, “God’s time to visit his people with his comforts is when they are most destitute of other comforts and other comforters.”
Whatever temptation or struggle you’re facing this week, no matter how trivial or titanic it is, have faith. Remember the heroes of faith from the Bible were no different from you or I. They had their doubts (remember Sarah’s laughter would God told her she would conceive?). They had their moments of weakness. Not a one of them were perfect.
But they were hungry. Hungry for God’s word and vision. Trusting that nothing else could satisfy their hunger. Holding strong to their faith in God as a man of His word.
How did they do it? Not on their own. Through faith in something greater.