I debated about whether or not it was prudent to write this note for many reasons, not least of all because I believe that fasting should generally not be paraded about, but upon reflection decided that my motives are really to just challenge each other as neighbors on this planet earth. I love you, everyone.
Today was the first day of Ramadan. This is the second time I've observed this holy month. I've chosen to do so this year specifically because I really needed a concentrated, fixed time of fasting. I haven't fasted much since beginning the AIM program, ironically, and I can't think of once that I've fasted since moving to Mexico. It's just not as easy here, but that's not a good excuse, because fasting used to be (and I think rightly so) a very important aspect of my pursuit of God, my relationship with him.
Today during daylight hours I abstained from any sustenance (other than water; although this is not strict observance, I'm not Muslim and so I decided that I really do need to drink water). This has already challenged me to meditate on many things: God's strength in our weakness, my shortcomings that are normally masked by my desires being met, God being my only sustainer and my desire not to need anything else, how incredibly ungrateful I am in the simple things of life (I pretty much never think to give thanks before eating), my need to hunger and thirst for righteousness and Jesus' promise to fill us, and the reality of more than a billion hungry people around the world today. I can hardly imagine how an entire month of daylight fasting with these conscious meditations will transform me, by God's grace. This will be very healthy and beneficial for my spiritual development, I'm sure.
So why Ramadan specifically? Obviously I am not a Muslim. Being a Christian could make me shy away from observing any foreign holiday or holy month. First I want to say that I respect all Muslims as fellow human beings, neighbors of mine here on this earth we all share, neighbors like the ones Jesus told me to love as my own self. I have a few Muslim friends (one of whom I lost contact with a while back and still miss dearly) that I love very much. My friends Toby, Chutney and I got the opportunity to visit a mosque during the breaking of a Ramadan fast last year with my friend Eli, and although we made it abundantly clear that we are Christian missionaries, were treated with utmost respect and love. I felt a kind of peace there and am grateful still for that opportunity.
Simultaneously, my being Christian demands that I recognize Allah as a very different god than the Father/Son/Spirit Godhead that I worship. I am not celebrating the revelation of the Qu'ran seeing as I believe it to be false. I have no special respect for Mohammad as a prophet, again, seeing as I believe he was a false one. I believe that the Bible is the word of God and needed no correction or additional revelation, as Paul explains in Galatians and John in Revelation. I don't believe in multiple truths, and I have absolutely no expectation for Muslims, even my friends, to believe in multiple truths either. (See my note Coexist?)
One reason I choose to observe Ramadan specifically is because hunger is a tangible reminder to pray for people. I'm thinking of those in the world who would be severely punished for writing the words above. I'm praying for them. I'm thinking of those who are hungry and have no way of sustaining themselves. I'm praying for them. I'm thinking of those who have a different god or scripture. I'm praying for them. (I'm not just praying for them this month, but being hungry is abnormal for me, so I have a special focus.)
That being said, fasting, prayer, meditation, and scripture reading is not honoring Allah nor Mohammad for me, but honoring Yahweh, Jesus Christ, the Holy Spirit. I've already found Ramadan to be a beautiful time for me this year and may even make it an annual observance for me personally. I love and respect my Muslim neighbors. I'm praying for them. I will unite with them on what we have in common while standing uncompromised and unashamed of the Gospel of Jesus Christ.
This is for you, God. Be with me; be with them; be with us.
Hello out there!
3 months ago