Very excited to announce the release of 40 Days Without Food: Divine Goodness to a Starving Soul, the first (e-)book by Mbird friend and contributor Russ Masterson, published by last week by Tyndale. In 2004, Russ went on a fast, and he did it the old-fashioned way, forty days with no food. But this is thankfully no ‘celebration of discipline’ – far from it, 40 Days Without Food chronicles his experience with real humility and candor, and his conclusions may surprise you. Especially recommended for folks struggling with questions of purpose (and looking for some comfort). Russ has given us permission to reprint a couple excerpts here, the first one of which is below. More coming soon. Spread the word!

Day 2

I want that sense of purpose, and I feel like this fast has something to do with the discontentment I feel with my job. I graduated from seminary several months back, and always thought I’d slide easily into some sublime job I loved to wake up to every day, but that’s not my reality.

I’ve been looking for a new job, something in a church, or teaching somewhere. I’m telling myself the job quest is all about me living with a purpose, using my gifts. But I also know part of this job quest is about my ridiculous desire to be seen. I sit buried in a box at the end of a maze of other little offices, some with long rectangular windows, and others like mine, without any windows. My office used to be a closet. It stored brochures and t-shirts and old suitcases. There was an old tire leaning up against the back wall. Mac has two windows in his office, and when I go in there to talk to him, I grow envious and make a mental list of why I should have windows rather than he. After looking out his windows and talking to Mac I usually return to my office to work on an advertisement for one of our construction products.

My work is all quite mindless, receiving and deserving no recognition. I plan installer-certification meetings at Hampton Inns and ship out promotional notebooks to engineers. I find little meaning in any of it. I know I can’t stay here working this job. No one will notice, but I’ll slowly die. There will be a smiling veneer but I’ll be rotting on the inside. I’ll be forgotten, perhaps. I hate that I feel so discontent, because I work with great guys, in a flourishing company, for a wonderful and generous boss. I know this idea of finding a job that fully satisfies is a blessing and not a right, but I still want that blessing. And I’m appreciative of all the good things in my current job even while I’m frustrated. I bottle up most of my frustration, tightening a lid over it, hoping the desire for recognition doesn’t hemorrhage my being.

For years I thought I’d play professional basketball. Larry Bird was my hero: tall, pasty white, with a deadly jump shot. I thought one day I would fill his shoes as the great white hope of the NBA. This was a possibility, because I was the best basketball player I knew, the best basketball player in my neighborhood. Then I realized there were millions of me around the country. I gave up being Larry Bird, but I don’t want to give up having a purpose. I don’t want to blend into the millions. I fear mediocrity so I set huge expectations, push and strive, and wear myself out. I’m driven by my fear of mediocrity, and then restrained by my fear of failure. It all has me jumping and jerking: a dizzying reality. I need to be more content where I am, working for the sake of work, not trying to find so much meaning in a job, but rather in the way I work it. I have a hunch deep in my heart that we could give our lives to success and recognition, and they will never return the favor. We could become somebody and still nobody.

Excerpted from 40 Days Without Food by Russ Masterson. Copyright 2011 by Russ Masterson. Used with permission by Tyndale House Publishers, Inc. All rights reserved.