I’ve decided to just avoid the Barnes and Noble Cafe, avoid the temptation of the chocolate chip cookie. I’ll be more productive by studying at home than there anyway, especially in my state of mind, one of impatience. So far, everything is going well. No headaches, no uncontrollable cravings. I’m actually feeling pretty good. But I’m avoiding my kitchen. The end of the day is the hardest, when I would usually be in the kitchen preparing something for dinner, or snacking on things I shouldn’t be eating anyway. And I’m a little irritable. But on day 4, those feelings only happened occasionally and only briefly.
I had a strange thought today. Normally people are trying to figure out how to speed up their weight loss. This might sound crazy, but maybe it makes more sense to slow down, take your time, do a 40-day fast and just settle in for the ride. I’m confident that I can finish the whole 40 days. But I’m a little worried that it’s the same feeling I have when I’m at the 4-mile mark of a 26.2-mile marathon.
If you’ve ever run a marathon, as I have four times, you might know that you feel strong in the first few miles. I’m not a strong runner, but after training for a marathon for up to nine months, with its 20-40 miles of running per week and the long runs of 10-15 miles on Sunday, running 5 miles seems like nothing. In the first few miles of a marathon, you settle into a comfortable pace and you just run, breathing normally, feeling good in the legs, feeling energized.
But things start to get harder after you’ve passed the 13-mile mark, the half-way point, and you realize that you still have more than 13 miles to go. And your legs are starting to get a little bit heavier, and you wonder why you’re doing this crazy thing of running 26.2 miles. It is widely known that a healthy human can run 18 miles if he or she trains for it. The human body can store enough glycogen (the fuel stored in the muscles and liver) for an 18-mile run. But the human body was not designed to run more than about 18 miles. It can’t store enough glycogen. Which makes a 26.2-mile run so difficult. So in every marathon I’ve run, I’ve had to walk a significant portion of the miles between 18 and 24. Then somehow I’ve mustered the energy to run from mile 24 to 26.2, if for no other reason to avoid the embarrassment of walking across the finish line.
Why am I talking about marathoning in the early stages of a 40-day fast? Because it seems easy now. I feel strong. I can do anything. Sure, I’m thinking about food, but so far it hasn’t interfered with my life. If this is life in the desert, if this is what Jesus confronted in His first four days of His 40-day fast, then maybe He was singing. It’s like an oasis more than a desert. But I’m aware that I’ll reach the 18-mile mark in my fast, when I’ll be severely tempted.
And when that happens, when cactus plants are laughing at me, when the sun is beating down on me in this self-imposed desert, I’ll think about Jesus, and how He withstood the temptation, how He survived for 40 days and 40 nights alone, without any nourishment at all.
I will find inspiration in Him.