I am one of those people who can drink coffee all hours of the day. I am also one of those people who really enjoys the taste of coffee. Yes, I’ll admit that in the morning, I indulge in my creamy cup because I do need the wake up jolt. In fact, we’re now in the practice of setting the coffee maker to wake before us so that when we finally get out of bed we are greeted with the morning aroma of steamy joe eager to be poured. This is quite nice.
And yet, even though I do use this nectar to wake me, this is not the only reason for my love affair with coffee. For I do, indeed, love the taste.
So, around this time of year in the Christian calendar, Lent arrives, beckoning us to “give up” or “refrain” from something in our lives. As Christ sacrificed for us, we too, attempt to follow His lead by sacrificing the time and thought and energy we would actually give to this action or object, for the purpose of prayer and reflection and focus upon Him.
I guess I’ve never really understood the practice of giving something up for Lent, as I’ve never met someone, who after refraining from an action or object during Lent actually chose to make it a life change. Admittedly, I find the idea of knowingly giving something up for Lent with the intention of taking it back after Easter quite foreign. Now, perhaps experiencing a “life change” is not even the reason or true intention of Lent. Maybe I just have it wrong. I’m just wired to believe that if I am going to be devoted to the process of removing something from my life for 40 days, there should be a desire for this time of abstinence to be one which is actually transforming past the 40 day mark. For example, is it truely sacrifice if I’m merely counting down the days until I can eat sugar or chocolate again? I just don’t find that authentic or really that sacrificial.
Now, if I am indeed replacing the time and energy I devote to my indulgence in sugar or chocolate with a time of prayer and reflection, then sure, this practice, this discipline, is one of value.
The issue here, could be, that I’ve just never experienced a true time of reflection during Lent. Nor do I know many who have actually embraced Lent as more than a time to just haphazardly say, “I’m giving up ________ for Lent.” without further discussion.
I guess I just don’t like to do things half-arsed.
So, IF I were to take up a Lenten practice, what would I sacrifice with the intent that I would actually make a long term change that would positively affect my relationship with the Lord, my family, and my community?
I’d just take that back afterwards. My point.
How about: Watching less TV in the evenings? Yes. Getting to bed earlier? Yes. Rising earlier? Yes. These are the three areas of my life where a long term change would be of great benefit to my relationship with the Lord, my husband, my children, and my health.
These are areas where I NEED the Lord’s help and strength.
These are areas where I NEED the Lord’s discipline.
These are areas where I NEED the Lord’s power.
These are the areas that I can not win a power struggle with myself. I NEED God’s movement in my life on these.
Others may NEED God’s movement for diet, nutrition, shopping, attitude while driving, whatever. My intention is not to cheapen anyone’s Lenten experience.
My intention is to take a deeper look at WHY we choose what we choose to “give up” and to acknowledge that the practice of Lenten abstinence can, and should, be a time for us to experience the Lord’s renewal for the long haul as He remolds and rehshapes us through our sacrificial actions and choices.
Most importantly, however, is our need to give up something for which we lack the power to give up on our own, but rather NEED the Lord’s intimate intervention. It is something for which our reliance upon ourselves is shattered, and thus, turns our eyes to Jesus.
This is no short term task.
Am I a short-termer or a long-hauler?
I want to be a long-hauler.
Someone better pour me another cup of coffee.