It was day seven of my Lenten beverage fast. School had just been cancelled for the second day in a row due to ice on the roads. And I really wanted some coffee.
There’s really no excuse for it.
It’s just that I love snow days because they
give us permission force us to slow down. I was allowed to wake without the assistance of an alarm clock around 7:30. And the house was quiet.
Everyone was still asleep.
As I pulled ingredients for pancakes out of the pantry in anticipation of the pitter-patter of little feet, I noticed a solid sheet of ice, still frozen on my driveway, and a dusting of white in between the peaks of the rooftops across the street.
It was cold outside.
But oh so warm and cozy inside. All my chicks were tucked safely in our nest. A candle burned on the table behind the sofa. And I was buttoned up in my favorite robe and Ugg slippers after a night of sleeping like a baby.
Everything was perfect.
Except for the fact that I didn’t have a hot cup of coffee in my hands.
Because, along with my husband and our daughter, I’m participating in Living Water International’s H2O Project and gave up all beverages except water for Lent. (For those of you who missed this post, participants in the H2O Project forego all beverages except water for a designated period of time and donate the money they save to Living Water through a Give Well Account to support Living Water’s campaign to solve the global water crisis.)
You have to understand, though, for me, coffee isn’t about the need for a caffeine fix. I’ve been drinking decaffeinated coffee for a while and have cut caffeine out of my diet for the most part due to the unwanted side effects it has on me.
But coffee is part of a morning routine that I love. A routine that involves a few quiet moments in the wee hours that I set aside for myself before I have to put my mommy, wife, and attorney hats back on and start another busy day. It’s part of the time when I sit still. Draw a breath. Commune with God. And prepare my heart and my mind for what the day might bring. And while I can still engage in this routine without my coffee, something’s just “off” when I don’t have my favorite cup of java in my hands.
Especially on a “snow” day.
So I convinced myself that it would be OK to have one cup of coffee. After all, the “break” from my fast which I took on Sunday wasn’t really a break at all. I had one cup of coffee all day and drank nothing else but water. Compared to a normal day for me, that was nothing. Because normally, I would drink at least two cups of coffee and at least one additional non-water beverage per day. What would be wrong with “banking” what I could have had on Sunday and withdrawing from that account today? (Don’t you love my rationalization?)
So I went to my Keurig, and I made a cup. I added my coconut creamer to it. And I took a sip.
But it’s funny. It didn’t really taste that good to me. It didn’t “scratch my itch” like I thought it would. And instantly, I began to regret what I’d done.
Because this is more than a fast to me. It’s more than self-denial. (Not that self-denial isn’t sometimes a healthy endeavor in and of itself.) But this is something I felt God calling me to do to advance His cause in a specific way. Something that, through self-denial, will enable me to give more generously to a cause I feel strongly about.
Bringing clean water to those who don’t have access to it.
And now I’d missed an opportunity to grow my savings.
The conviction began to set in. Much like it does on the heels of sin. When I know I shouldn’t do something, I do it anyway, and God speaks up about it.
Well, He spoke. Loudly. And I couldn’t even finish the coffee.
So what’s a girl to do?
Well the first thing she does is offer the coffee to her husband. Who is also, mind you, trying to fast all beverages except water for Lent.
Yep. Just call me Eve. But thankfully, my guy was tougher than Adam. He looked at me with a disapproving raised brow, grabbed the cup of coffee out of my hand, shook his head, and for the benefit of both of us, poured it in the sink. I might have shed a tear as I watched the contents of my beloved coffee mug running down the drain.
He made the right move.
So I began to ponder my next. And I decided that in keeping with the rule I’d settled on for “Sundays in Lent” when I may opt to break my fast, I’d include two times the cost of a cup of coffee on my Living Water score card for the 1/2 cup of coffee I drank. The result? That I’d donate twice as much money to the cause for my transgression.
Not as penance mind you. Because I don’t believe that God intends for a Lenten fast or any other outward expression of our faith to shackle us with guilt and condemnation.
But as an acknowledgment of the abundance in my life.
Because I have the ability to walk 30 steps from the foot of my bed to an automated coffee machine and get a hot cup of coffee made with clean water on demand, simply by pushing a button. And yet there are millions of people in the world who have to walk miles to draw dirty water into 5 gallon buckets to serve up to their families every day.
It’s not right. And we have the resources to put a stop to it.
After breakfast, I started fresh with my attempt at this Lenten fast. A nice expression of the grace of God, don’t you think? And I think I’ll do better going forward given this bump in the road. I don’t think I’ll so easily cave next time. And in the meantime? I’ll make lemonade out of lemons (oh how I’d love a tall glass of lemonade with Sonic ice right about now) by donating more money to the cause!