OK, so my very small sacrifices of no soda and coffee are a week old now, and, in truth, it’s not exactly heroic. Sure, the heavenly aroma of coffee is intoxicating (I’m very sure there will be coffee in the new heavens and earth), and Coke Zero has never sounded so good. But come on, it’s not like I’m walking on coals or being genuinely deprived. Pity me not.
Which is causing me to ask, “So why am I doing this again?” I’m pretty clear that it’s not so that God will like me more or consider me somehow more worthy of His blessing. But if I’m really honest, I have to resist this little internal voice that murmurs, “But at least I’m taking God seriously- probably because I’m just a little more godly…”. Yuk.
So I’m glad that I’ve been reading in this great little book, Bread and Wine: Readings for Lent and Easter. The first section is all about repentance, which is a word that usually makes us immediately uncomfortable. But how rich it is! You see, on the one hand we have the truth that all of our sins have been paid for by Jesus- completely forgiven! The price is paid! We don’t bring anything to that equation that will assist in being made right with God- that is all of Him. But on the other hand, an authentic life with God will always lead me to a greater awareness of my own sinfulness and need of His grace. The more I see God and then see the real me, the more I recognize the vital place of an ongoing surrender to Jesus. My “junk” must continue to be nailed to the Cross as I learn what it means to genuinely abandon myself to God.
So it’s in this way that I’m discovering the value of giving up something small like coffee and soda. If this tiny sacrifice can make me feel self-righteous (and it has) or want to whine about it (and it has), then the mirror has shown ugliness that I’d otherwise missed or ignored. Not so that I can just feel more guilty, but so that God’s Spirit might be given more access to my heart. And then His renovation project can continue there. And I’m glad it is, even a cup or two at a time.