Want to Grow?

For the past 20 years I have consumed 3-5 cups of coffee every day. For the past 11 days, I have consumed none. I’m fasting it for Lent. I gave up something I love, in preparation for something I love more.

Does that mean I love Jesus more than coffee? What a weird way to think of it. Usually those two things are kept in separate containers and allowed to mingle only on Sundays.

Three years ago, I decided that separation wasn’t working for me anymore. I wandered as far as I reasonably could before admitting I was lost and should turn back to find another way. I spent years saying and doing whatever I wanted and inventing theology to rationalize my behavior. My life wasn’t bad but my soul was sick. I had fun. Not joy.

There were two reasons Jesus wasn’t part of my life.

1. I didn’t like how many Christians behaved.

2. I wanted to do as I pleased.

IMG_5055Sam and I spent last weekend at our ranch in West Texas. It is the place I surrendered my smart-mouthed wisdom and┬ápicked up The Bible. It’s where I learned about discipline and how much better my life works when it’s about Jesus and not me. It’s where I wrote 2/3 of my book with a never-empty cup of steaming, heavily cream and sugared coffee at my right hand.

So, West Texas without coffee, is like baseball without hot dogs, but there’s no way I can cave on this one. I never thought much about fasting or why somebody would bother. But now I get it.

Every morning when I walk by that coffee pot, I experience actual physical longing. So I whine and count the days until Easter when I can have it back.

But every time the longing hits, I imagine the fully divine Jesus, stuck here for 33 years trying to teach limited, harassed, confused, arrogant, stubborn humans like me how to live. How he must have counted the days until Easter.

The fabulous Tim Keller of Redeemer Presbyterian Church in Manhattan explains what Jesus gave up in The King’s Cross: The Story of the World in the Life of Jesus:

The Trinity is utterly different. Instead of self-centeredness, the Father, The Son and the Spirit are characterized in their very essence by mutually self-giving love. No person in the Trinity insists that the others revolve around him; rather each of them voluntarily circles and orbits around the others….If this is ultimate reality, if this is what the God who made the universe is like, then this truth bristles and explodes with life-shaping, glorious implications for us.

My life is not easier now than it was three years ago, it’s harder. But I’m climbing onto new plateaus all the time, taking in views I would have killed for three years ago. They are delightful and surprising because I didn’t engineer them, God did. I just set my crappy, old baggage down and started climbing.

I have many pitches left. Fasting coffee is just one of them.


Why Should I Give Something Up?

Sitting in the truck outside the auto parts store waiting for Captain Dilly Dally this morning, I sat quietly, holding my coffee cup, considering what I might give up for Lent.

Lent is a 40 day period of sacrifice, fasting and preparation for Easter that’s meant to remind us Christ’s own sacrifice. Despite wearing a smudge on my forehead every Ash Wednesday for 16 years of Catholic school, I’ve never not blown off Lent.

“I’m giving up Christmas parties for Lent this year, ha ha ha,” was a popular joke in my family that reflected a bit of disdain for Catholic rituals.

But these days, I feel like I am asking for a lot from God, so is it really that outrageous to offer a sacrifice in return? I make sacrifices for Captain Dilly Dally all the time just to express my love and devotion to him, why is Christ any different?

But whatever could I give up that I’m really attached to? What do I really love that would hurt me to go without? My fingers curled a little tighter around my still-warm, roadie cup, grasping it, clutching it like my precious.

Latte Machiatto

(Photo credit: 5.0OG)

“No no, not thaaaaat Jesus, I can’t survive without that.”

On the ride home, I explained Lent to Sam (aka Capt. DD).

“You should give up coffee then,” he said confirming what I kind of already knew. “And honey, I don’t mean this bad, but you will be a bee-otch without it.”

Annoyed, I suggested he give up dropping f-bombs for Lent.

“Think of how fun Easter will be for you,” I said.

Just then, Sam hit the brakes and swung over to the side of the road to pick up a guy holding a gas can. We gave him a ride to the gas station, then back to his pickup where his brother, an amputee, was waiting.

See it’s one thing to talk about Jesus all the time, it’s another to live like him.

See you Easter Sunday Starbucks.