Fasting

Talk to His Wife to Check His Story

My old neighbor from Saskatchewan, Ed, couldn’t believe I was taking curling lessons. The lessons are sponsored here through Elder College and the University of the Fraser Valley, as one of a host of courses, for those over 55. Ed questioned taking curling lessons in BC. He asked, “Why wouldn’t you have learned to curl in Saskatchewan where we curl best?” All I could say was that it was better late than never to be curling here.

Ed told me that there had been a good response to family curling nights at the Melville Curling Club. We both agreed that a family playing a sport together was a worthwhile activity. Of course, Ed had to ask how many curling lessons I was taking, and how much they cost me. When I told him six lessons for $35, he was impressed. He was sure that it was a real senior’s price, worth paying. He also wanted to know what other stuff I could take and wasn’t satisfied until I had read him the whole list of courses offered. When Ed heard that I was also taking lessons in improv comedy, he was certain I was kidding. He insisted on talking to my wife on the phone. She confirmed that I was truly taking classes in curling and improv comedy. My old neighbor was positive that I could not come up with quick-witted, off-the-cuff remarks that would have people in stitches. I told him not to worry for when I didn’t make a funny remark, others in the group did, and the laughs kept coming. Ed said, “Yea I bet they do!” Instantly, I said, “Are you calling me a liar?” He changed the subject.

The hard thing about taking lessons is that there is no telling how good you are going to be at what you are learning. No one likes to look hopeless at a sport. Some folks always have to be the best at whatever they do, and some of us are satisfied if we are not the worst one among those learning to do something. It often seems to upset our comfort level to consider others better than ourselves. Our vanity thrives on being just as good as, or better than others.

Christ Jesus, who was in very nature God, did not consider equality with God something he needed. He took the position of a servant and went into the desert, fasting there for forty days and nights. Jesus was willing to face temptation in physical hunger and extreme spiritual challenge. When tempted there by the devil, he did not seek to show off but used the word of God to defeat the devil’s allurements to sin. Fasting as an act of humility and self-denial is not always popular. Abstaining from food or limiting food is not easily accomplished. Facing acute spiritual challenge is also often avoided. Many consider the church season of Lent a time to exercise self-denial in honor of Christ’s self-denial for sinners.

Paul calls us to self-denial in all seasons with the words, “Do nothing out of selfish ambition or vain conceit, but in humility consider others better than yourselves. Look not only to your own interests but also to the interests of others.”

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Raymond Maher
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