The young, wild pony would have nothing to do with his new owners. He was a danger to the kids and anyone in his area. He was afraid of all humans and refused to cooperate with their plans. After much work and maneuvering the family finally got him into a barn stall. This is when the dad looked at the kid and said, “He gets nothing, until he takes it from us!” There was to be no water or food given free choice. The first day he continued to run around and carry on in the stall. The second day wasn’t much different. But the pony began to get thirsty. He became very hungry. Each day they would come to the door and offer him food and water from a bucket in their hands. Soon, he was shyly coming and eating. He had no choice but to take the food and water from them. As days passed into weeks, he was eager for their appointments. He no longer refused them and acted afraid of them, but eagerly came to the gate every time he saw them coming. He was ready for his food, water, and grooming. They released him back into the pasture and allowed him to have free choice again. But every time they came, he would rush to their side. He would follow them around in the pasture. He would rush to the side of any human that came into the pasture.
Kim Wilson, a brother here at 7 Oaks Church of Christ, told me this true story from his childhood, after our men’s class on fasting. I think it is a wonderful illustration of the purpose of fasting (Mat. 6:16-18; Acts 13:2-3). Fasting is about us humbling ourselves and realizing that we need God. That “man shall not live by bread alone, but by every word that proceeds from the mouth of God” (Mat. 4:4). It is about us physically reminding ourselves that He is the bread of life (John 6:35)! We need Him. We must walk with Him. We should run to Him. We must not be like that wild pony–stubborn and independent, but rather humbly needing his care and love. If we don’t know this in our lives, God may choose to discipline us until we know He is the true source of our blessings.