“What would you like to drink?” I asked our new pastor as he and his family arrived for lunch at our home last spring.
“Water,” he said.
Later the conversation turned to tea. Pastor Robert and his wife told us about some of the teas they had enjoyed in Russia. “We have quite an assortment,” I said. “Would you like some?”
“No thank you,” Pastor replied quietly. “I’ve given up every drink but water for Lent.”
Lent begins today, and I’m still struggling over what to give up. So many things that come to mind just aren’t practical.
I’m busily running down a list of candidates and seeing something inconvenient in each one.
My husband loves beef and doesn’t eat fish. If I give up meat, I’ll be preparing separate meals until Easter.
The internet? All our household finances are organized for efficient billing and payment online. I’d ruin our credit rating. And “necessary use only” looks like a mighty slippery slope to me.
Coffee withdrawal makes me mean. Do I want to expose my family and coworkers to meanie-me?
Chocolate? Alcohol? Too easy.
My sharp tongue? I want to be rid of it, not just give it a rest.
In the midst of the list-making, I’m convicted. And now I’m feeling foolish.
No practicality inheres in Christ’s life. It wasn’t convenient for Him to be accused, flogged, nailed to a cross.
He didn’t die for us because it suited His schedule. He died for us because we desperately needed a Savior.
Nothing I could forswear for the next several weeks could compare with His self-denial.
Mark D. Roberts offers some good thinking about Lenten practices. It’s part of his series How Lent Can Make a Difference in Your Relationship with God. As I looked through his excellent material, one of the first things I figured out was my ridiculous pride.
Of course my Lenten sacrifice isn’t meant to compare with Christ’s.
I’m also heartened by Mark’s comment that sacrifices, (or disciplines added for Lent) must be “realistic”–what I conceived as “practical.”
And then it came to me, what I could set aside as a symbol of my gratitude for His sacrifice: my jewelry.
I’m not much of a clothes horse, see, and I don’t do the makeup thing…but I do love my jewelry.
On a typical day I’m wearing my Tag Heuer diamond watch, my wedding rings, a garnet and diamond ring that my husband gave me, diamond studs, and a cross–also diamond-encrusted, also a gift from my husband.
Maintaining my piercings during Lent. That’s a little odd.
1 Therefore I urge you, brethren, by the mercies of God, to present your bodies a living and holy sacrifice, acceptable to God, which is your spiritual service of worship. 2 And do not be conformed to this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind, so that you may prove what the will of God is, that which is good and acceptable and perfect.
Romans 12:1-2 (NASB)