By ANDREA GOEBEL
“What are you giving up for Lent, Mommy?” my daughter asked, as she sat on a barstool at our kitchen island while I washed dishes.
“I’m not sure what God wants me to do.” I sighed, and stared at the sink. It was the day after Ash Wednesday, and I still didn’t know what Lenten resolutions to commit to.
“I’m giving up toys and cookies,” she said nonchalantly.
“That’s very admirable to give up two things you like.” I wondered how my six-year-old set her standard for this season so easily.
I felt desperate. Perhaps if I read a devotional, performed meaningful activities with my family and/or gave up something major, that would lead me to the Lenten transformation I sought.
As I turned toward the coffee pot sitting on the counter beside me, I contemplated pouring myself a cup. My heart clinched as it does every time I am about to do something I know I shouldn’t.
Was God asking me to give up coffee?
As soon as I acknowledged the question, I knew the answer.
It was simple. And yet, I resisted.
“You want me to give up coffee? What will I do when I’m tired? I won’t be able to concentrate! I’ll have headaches! I don’t want to!”
My silent pleas felt false. It wasn’t really exhaustion, lack of focus, or a caffeine headache I feared. It was vulnerability.
Coffee distracted me from my doldrums; it perked me up when I wanted to be more productive; it comforted me when I couldn’t face the cacophony of my children’s arguments anymore.
I depended on it each day to mollify my mood. How would I go without it?
“Okay, God, if you really want me to, I’ll try. I’m just not sure how long I’ll be able to do it.”
His response strengthened me to say yes: “Focus on one day at a time. Call on me when you think you can’t resist temptation. I will help you. You know you can do this. Just believe it.”
The knot in my heart dissolved. I still wasn’t certain I could complete a coffee-less Lent, but I would try.
My heavenly father’s encouragement induced an epiphany in my heart. Here are a few truths I learned:
- God does not expect us to make monumental maneuvers to undergo a spiritual transformation. Faith sprouts in seemingly insignificant circumstances. More than anything, God just wants us to say yes to His call in our lives. When Jesus described the difference between having and lacking faith in God, he said, “…if you have faith the size of a mustard seed, you will say to this mountain, ‘Move from here to there,’ and it will move. Nothing will be impossible for you” (Matthew 17:20).
- When we allow sin to prevent honest interactions with our heavenly father, we will not experience complete communion with Him. We have to release ourselves from the lie that our daily doses of desires of the flesh will fulfill our needs. God alone can satisfy and sustain us. In Luke 16:13, Jesus cautioned his disciples, “No servant can serve two masters. He will either hate one and love the other, or be devoted to one and despise the other.”
- We cannot win this war alone. God will guide us through every battle we face, even if it seems insurmountable. We just have to ask him for help and trust him to provide it. 1 Corinthians 10:13 reminds us, “No trial has come to you but what is human. God is faithful and will not let you be tried beyond your strength; but with the trial he will also provide a way out, so that you may be able to bear it.”
As I considered the magnitude of God’s revelation to me during our kitchen encounter, I dumped the pot of coffee down the now-empty sink. A flutter of faith stirred in my heart. I didn’t know what this Lent would bring, but I knew I could trust God to carry me through.