Monday, February 18, 2013

Bodybuilding Contest Prep in Lent

I've read this passage many times, and heard it read in church service yearly, but yesterday it jolted me awake.
And Jesus being full of the Holy Ghost returned from Jordan, and was led by the Spirit into the wilderness,
Being forty days tempted of the devil. And in those days he did eat nothing: and when they were ended, he afterward hungered. 
And the devil said unto him, If thou be the Son of God, command this stone that it be made bread. 
And Jesus answered him, saying, It is written, That man shall not live by bread alone, but by every word of God.

What got my attention about the passage was the word "bread." This was because I am on an extended bodybuilding contest prep diet, which doesn't allow me to eat any bread.

During the prep periods for two of my past bodybuilding contests, I had to drive by a bakery every morning on my way to work. This became a certain special kind of torture. And, on those rare occasions on which I was allowed a "cheat meal" and ate bread, I found that its taste had become to me as sweet as cake.

So when the passage about Jesus' fasting and temptation (from St. Luke's Gospel) was read yesterday morning, it hit me in a powerful way. More than usual, I identified with Jesus in his temptations.

I think it almost goes without saying that American Christians today are better at feasting than at fasting. One look at the extended guts on the faithful, and perhaps even particularly on clergymen, should be enough to convince anyone that living a "fasted life" is not high on the list of concerns of today's average Christian.

I am thankful to the bodybuilding lifestyle for many reasons. One of them I thank God for today is that it has taught me self-denial. It has taught me to fast.