So, I decided to give up certain stimulants this year for lent. That primarily means coffee, but would extend to cocoa (in chocolate) and cloves, and whatever else I can thrown in from time to time.
The cloves and the chocolate? Easy. The coffee? It's been painful. And now to learn that most decaf coffees are raped by chemicals in order to be decaf causes me to be cautious of even decaffing my life. Perhaps it's time for cold turkey! Hmm.
I started thinking about how the reason I don't necessarily like to give up things is because it costs me something: If I am buying better food and giving up unhealthy eating habits, it costs money; if I give some of my money away, it may cost me cable; if I give up coffee, it costs me some energy.
Now perhaps you are thinking, "Ryan, your energy will come back to you. It's just that your body has been used to running off caffiene, and now it's re-adjusting." Thank you. I appreciate your sentiment. But, I am not so sure of it. I think there is a good possibility that when you give something like that up, you have to recognize that you might not be able to maintain where you were? Does this make sense?
Spencer Burke has said several times that sure, most people want to be green, use less energy and whatnot, but the truth of the matter is that you cannot plug in as many things if you are running off less energy. There has to be sacrifice that comes with... well, sacrifice!
One of the stories of David (the old Hebew fella) is about him making an offering to God. And there is a suggestion of using some stuff for his offering that wouldn't cost him anything. He turns around and says that if it costs him nothing, it is not a sacrifice, not an offering, not worship, not true.
People want to change (I'd like to think). They want to help. They'd like to become better human beings. They would like to help. They would like to see more beauty in the world and perhaps even be the ones that bring it... but it will cost something. And this is at the very heart of the message and life of Jesus... that bringing goodness into this world will cost something. Giving your money away to the poor is not a way to ensure a good retirement! The way of Jesus is not a way of stability or financial success!
Sure, some might comment and say that you can have your cake and eat it to, but I would invite you to really consider that again. I mean, if we come to a place where the way we live our lives costs us nothing, is that any way of obedience? I guess I should really turn this on myself. I mean, it's more of a self-critique than anything else. I was thinking about when we first came to Oceanside, I would invite strangers into my home, deliberately take my neighbors out for lunch, meet the needs of the homeless-camping community on the beach. I think I have settled into a life where sure I give some money away, and sure perhaps I do good things from time to time, but really, is this living?
I am hoping our trip to Thailand will prove to jumpstart my heart in a direction of self-sacrificial giving beyond the way I live now.