So, it could definitely be said that planning a month long fast when I already had tickets for The Good Food Show at the NEC during that month wasn’t the most sensible thing to do. Well, maybe not. But then there never is a ‘good time’. That’s part of the point really: a fast is supposed to interrupt your life, it’s supposed to be challenging and uncomfortable at times.
Still, I’ll admit I wasn’t completely convinced that sticking rigidly to the fast for the weekend was going to be either a) possible or b) desirable. Premier Inn hotels don’t have fridges and taking enough of my 7 foods with me to last over the weekend would definitely be tricky. Plus, The Good Food Show was going to offer multiple opportunities for nibbling on free samples and generally overindulging – not to mention a meal out with a friend while we were away.
It was tempting to just have a weekend off. But, to be honest, I didn’t really consider that option for long. I was doing well and I didn’t want to undo all the good work completely. Besides, if I give up when I feel like it…well, that’s not really honouring God.
It was also tempting to stick with it completely. It would prove a point – even if it inconvenienced the people I was with. But remembering what I learned earlier, I wondered if maybe God wanted me to do something different. I didn’t initially know what it would be, but I was determined to do it.
These powerful, inspiring words from Paul in the first letter to the Corinthians offer encouragement whatever the challenge:
No test or temptation that comes your way is beyond the course of what others have had to face. All you need to remember is that God will never let you down; he’ll never let you be pushed past your limit; he’ll always be there to help you come through it. (1 Corinthians 10 v 13)
I prayed about it, in full expectation of an answer and trusting that God would let me know what to do. And the answer, when it came, was simple: I should honour the spirit of the fast as much as I could, but also be glad of the opportunity to spend time away from work and with friends and family.
So dinner on Friday night (after a 4 hour drive) was some chicken and spinach sandwiches, followed by a banana. Breakfast on Saturday and Sunday was bread and a banana. The other meals were going to be out of my hands – but I would make my choices based on sticking as close as possible to my 7 foods…plus some free samples.
Of course, The Good Show Live offered an ideal opportunity to think about food – how much we have, how much we waste, what we value about it… Temptation everywhere! But also plenty of opportunities to learn.
So, what did I actually end up eating? (Apart from samples.) Well, much as I would have liked to indulge in a giant sausage bun, I was lucky enough to find an Indian catering company selling wraps filled with curry composed chiefly of chicken, onions and tomatoes…and a little persuasion got them to sell me just the curry without the rice or anything else. That was lunch on both days. It was absolutely delicious – and maybe more so because it felt like I was trying my hardest to keep the commitment I made.
On the evening out, I was fully prepared to accept that I might have to compromise – but again, I got lucky: rotisserie chicken and sweet potato chips (at a small supplement) with salad, followed by a banana sundae. It was a lovely meal – though not at all what I would have chosen if I hadn’t been doing Simplify7. Particularly since Sticky Toffee Pudding was on the menu!
And what did I buy at the show? Well, I did succumb to a new whisk (temptation got the better of me on that one; really not sure what I need it for!) and I was delighted to find Irwin’s bread being sold. Since I am eating so much bread at the moment, it was great to have an excuse to buy it – especially as none of our local supermarkets sell it anymore. There were one or two other purchases – including some plants as the show is combined with Gardeners’ World Live. But perhaps more to the point is what I didn’t buy.
At a conservative estimate, I would say I saved at least £10 this weekend just by not having coffee – and probably a lot more by not just indulging in everything I would have liked.
Well, I could just keep that money in my pocket and use it for something else. But as part of the fast, and a response to the blessings I’ve enjoyed during a lovely weekend away, I’m going to use it to buy food for Food Stop. It’s a drop in the ocean – three or four cups of coffee for me – but it could make all the difference to a family who need food. I know it’s a bit of a ‘Duh!’ moment, but I’m fairly confident that £10 worth of food could provide basic meals for a family for several days.
I know plenty of other people already make that regular sacrifice: giving away something they have in order to help those who have less. We all know it’s a good thing to do – and we probably all have our favourite good causes. But sometimes the biggest temptation – for me anyway – is to consider the size of the need and believe I can do nothing.
Because then, I do nothing. And that is not what God wants from me. He’s teaching me that I can make a difference.