Going without coffee for 40 days…nope!
No more chocolate for the next five and a half weeks…absolutely not!
Giving up bread? Not even close.
How about passing on the social media for close to what may seem like a lifetime? That’s a big fat negative.
My internal struggle was fierce. As Lent 2015 was fast approaching, I knew I had to abandon some habit that was holding me back from drawing closer to the Lord. I wanted to pass up my pleasures for the sake of Him. As my list grew longer and each item was scratched off, I began to feel defeated. “How is giving up coffee going to get me closer to God?” Or, “If I don’t eat this piece of chocolate, I will now officially be holy.”
The ideas running around in my head were talking back to one another and not seeing eye-to-eye.
Then it hit me! It hit me hard! The Holy Spirit gently sat me down and spoke to this hard head of mine.
“Young lady,” He said. “You’re right, giving up your daily favorite indulgences won’t bring you closer to Me. It may for your neighbor Sally, but no, not you. You, my dear, need something more distinctive, something more profound. Have a wonderful day.”
“What?! That’s all you’re going to leave me with Lord? No specific ideas? Something a little bit more profound?”
Needless to say, I never heard back from Him...for over a good solid week.
As I was praying early one morning, I realized something. Giving up my favorites won’t make me more like Him. In fact, giving up my caffeinated beverage daily will make me agitated, irritable, and bitter, all things not associated with my Lord and Savior. Instead, I needed to be more like Him. And how I was going to accomplish that task was now an assignment I was ready to take on!
Instead of giving up something that in turn will alter my personality in a fashion that’s neither healthy nor beneficial for anyone, I decided to go another route.
For the next 40 days, my way of honoring Him during Lent would look a little different. “Acts of service” became my mantra for the next five and a half weeks.
I prepared for my honor to Him by creating a list. My list was numbered 1 through 40. Each line had an “act” to perform in the name of Jesus. Such as:
1. Bring a meal to someone in need.
Day one I cooked a crockpot full of pulled pork. I accompanied the pork with freshly baked rolls, a colorful garden salad, and topped the meal off with fresh fruit.
As I drove to my friend’s house to drop off the meal for day one, my heart was so full. I couldn’t wait to see her face as she opened the door and standing before her was me, followed by the aroma of pulled pork. My friend couldn’t have been more delighted to see me with a delicious meal in hand! We visited for a bit and I was on my way.
2. Volunteer your cleaning services
Day two I arrived at Linda’s house. Linda has ovarian cancer and is undergoing chemo leaving her tired and weak. I came upon Linda through my church. Since I own a residential cleaning business, I wanted to volunteer my services to a person who was in need. I drove to her house with my cleaning supplies and cleaned away her dust bunnies. After I got done sprucing up her house, I sat and chatted with her for a bit. I learned what a warrior she is for Jesus Christ; how He has brought her so much glory through this struggle of hers. I wrapped up our visit and was on my way home to my un-kept dirty house.
3. Let someone know you care
Day eight I arrived at the front doors of St. Luke’s Hospital.
I knew there was an individual somewhere in that hospital that needed to know they were cared about and loved. I walked into the gift shop and picked out a balloon that read: praying for your recovery. I had the sweet gal behind the counter inflate the beautiful purple balloon. I took my gift to the third floor: ICU. I handed the balloon to the nurse in charge and said I would like to give this to someone who doesn’t have any family by their side; let them know someone cares for them. As I wiped tears from my eyes and entered the elevator to leave the third floor, my heart ached for that individual (the patient remained anonymous to me). Not knowing their circumstances, I prayed for their peace and comfort.
for their heart and while I was at it, I built them up instead behind their back.
As my journey wrapped up, I sat and reflected on what had occurred over the past 40 days. Not only did I possibly change the day around for several people, hopefully for the better, but I changed mine as well. I didn’t need to give up coffee or chocolate to draw closer to Him. What I needed to do was be more like Him. Love like Him; speak, act, and do like Him. For it is when I gave up myself for others, I became more like Him.
My journey through Lent was indeed service, acts, and works. Jesus drove those three attributes strictly during my 40 days; He was behind my actions 100 percent.
When I sit here days later after the Lent Journey has ended, I can’t help but reflect back on how Jesus spoke to me during my odyssey. He gave me eyes to see like Him, ears to listen like He listens, hands to give as He gives daily, and a heart to reach out to the needs of others the way He does for you and me every single day.
I am truly blessed to have been brought front and center through this spiritual adventure. I gained much more than I ever thought possible. I know my journey will not stop at 40 days, but rather, beyond 40. Giving of myself is a difficult task more days than not, but with Him by my side, anything is possible…maybe even giving up coffee.
*Article first appeared in Christian Living Magazine*