You may be familiar with the outward aspects of Lent: ashes on foreheads, conversation about giving up sugar or caffeine or TV. But Lent, like spiritual life in general, is not merely external. There are internal realities that give depth and meaning to our actions, things like humility, sacrifice, repentance, and faith. In other words, there is more to Lent than deciding between coffee and TV.
You could, of course, just decide that you are not going to drink coffee for forty days and
be done with it, but to do so would be to deprive yourself of far more than coffee. You
would miss something that God wants to do in you this season.
Jesus fasted from food and water for forty days in the wilderness. It was not a religious
ritual or merely a display of his restraint.
Rather, it was a time of trial and temptation
which he endured by entrusting himself to God and being nourished on the Word of
God. The point of the wilderness, for Jesus, was to experience the real presence of God
with him, and power of God at work in him.
Though they may look the same from the outside, participating in Lent and “playing”
at Lent are entirely different realities.
So give up coffee if you want to, but don’t pretend
that the absence of a beverage will sufficiently help you draw near to God.
The Lenten practice of denying usual comforts is a means of deepening our sense of
union with Jesus, and reorienting our life around the things of God. We give up that
which distracts and entangles because we want to experience some real joy and freedom
When considering what to give up for Lent, begin with whatever habits or things lie at
the heart of your consumer lifestyle. Forsake them for the sake of being consumed by
the God-life. Lent is not about what we do for Christ. It is about plumbing the depths of
what he has done for us