Matt Parra once taught us a class about the lack of still time we put ourselves through. He noted how this very much went against the experience of the prophets, who were oftentimes led into wilderness experiences by the Spirit of God. The case he used as his driving illustration was John the Apostle and the Patmos experience the apostle went through. Because the apostle, in a sense, fasted from everything on that island. He fasted from friends, from family, from social comforts, from connection, and all the other things which would come from being among one's own versus being in an isolated prison island. That class still burns very vividly on my mind.
"Why is it that the prophets were always led to wilderness experiences and why is that oftentimes it was there where they dreamed dreams and saw visions? Why is it that we don't dream and see visions? I wonder if perhaps the reason we don't experience more dreams today and see more visions today is because we don't have more Patmos experiences. What if instead of constantly trying to fill the voids, with music and entertainment and pleasures and whatever distractions we can lay our hands on, we sought to enter Patmos experiences?"
He would go on to say in that class that in his mind the idea of fasting was to sweep away all the things that could become a distraction. Sweeping them away so you could lay bare and exposed before the Lord, with nothing to fill the voids with.
As I sat in that class, I remembered being strongly motivated to make fasting a regular discipline in my life. Fasting in the broad sense, though. There are regular times I fast from food, but I have also sought to fast from other things. Perhaps things someone else would not understand because they aren't issues for them. For example, during Lent I decided to join in but since I am vegetarian already, I decided to fast from my mobile social media apps, limiting my use to computer and web browsing. Ever since then, I have not been tweeting as much, right Eric and Monique?
I have done fasts from Facebook and from phone usage. I have fasted from negative thoughts and from praying for myself, limiting my prayers to dialogue and intercessory prayer. Etc.
And this week, I am fasting from a great number of things. The reasons I fast are not for public sharing. The purpose of this post is not to bring attention to how holy I am for fasting. I am not seeking your attention.
Here is my point: a few weeks ago, I was sitting across from Beau and he was trying to say something but I was on my phone; now, in my mind I was fully paying attention to him, but to him, I was being totally disrespectful and he burst out. He told me how frustrated and hurt he is when he is trying to tell me something and I don't communicate presence to him. The phone, he said, why don't you get off that phone? Immediately, I recognized his valid point. My girlfriend has criticized me. My old ARISE intern pals called me out. I knew he was right. Since then, I don't mindlessly use it as much, and if I am talking to my girlfriend, I make sure to let him know so he understands what I am doing.
Over that time, and over the last two days, what I have realized is that in using less Instagram, less Twitter, less Facebook, etc. I am, in a sense, fasting from trying to capture the moments and instead, living the moments. My mind is diseased and it's inclination is to think in tweets, Instagrams, photos, video ideas, poems, lyrics, lines, and so forth. Yet, as I am using it less because Beau Gilmore told me to get off my phone, I am finding this strange and wondrous pleasure in simply being in the moment and not caring about capturing it. And this has been liberating. Moreover, it has filled my days with visions and with dreams, perhaps not prophetic, but definitely revelatory, definitely meaningful, and most certainly inspirational.
Matt Parra was right. Being still is about being present, being still is about feeling your nakedness, and being in the wilderness does lead to visions. To some, it was supernatural. To me, a non-prophet, it was simply all the life, play, and conversation I had been missing out on because I wouldn't get off my phone.