God promises rewards—sometimes open and public ones—for those who seek him in the secret places and in secret ways. (Matthew 6 1-17).
I had a serious coffee addiction as an undergraduate and graduate student. I pretty much had a cup on my desk through the day. One day, I decided to count how many cups I had—and it was 17. And so I tried to reduce it to 16, then, 15, 14, etc. But I never did manage to reduce it sufficiently to kick the habit!
Drinking coffee to help you concentrate when you are flagging because you need fresh air, a nap, or exercise is like flogging a dying horse. You will get some more action out of the horse, but it will die sooner.
And so it was with me. I think my coffee-fuelled overwork—I could sit and read for 14 hours at a stretch, with breaks only for meals in my twenties—led to frequent burnout. It set me up for adrenal fatigue from which I have slowly been recovering for the last few years. It also got me into the habit of crash and bust cycles of work—definitely not sustainable.
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In my second year of marriage, I was disgusted with the weight I was gaining with a suddenly sedentary life of reading and reading! 27 pounds that first year of marriage!! So I naively thought I would stop eating till I lost weight. I tried to fast, and just drunk water with a twist of lemon, and tried to read Scripture.
I survived for 3 days—and felt ill for most of it as the residual toxins from years of poor eating habits were burned.
And when I gave up—prematurely!!—I found I couldn’t stand the thought of drinking something so toxic as coffee. I hadn’t gone on the fast to kick the coffee addiction—it was a side benefit!! That was 20 years ago, and I haven’t had more than the occasional cup of coffee, generally in coffee shops with friends, since then.
I do however drink green tea, which has numerous documented health benefits!
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I haven’t tried a long fast since then, and don’t believe I will. Fasting seriously lowers one’s metabolism—and I need to increase mine. On the other hand, a Daniel fast (eschewing particular “pleasant” food for a season, as described in the Book of Daniel), can only bring physical and spiritual benefits, especially if one turns to God instead of turning to food or sweets or chocolates for comforts or highs.
And isn’t it exciting that God himself promises us a reward when we fast, or pray or give? And that the reward is unspecified? Because God is good that makes receiving this secret, unspecified reward so much more exciting!!