a slave to more then just caffeine

This post was also featured on youthworkerjournal.com

This year for lent I decided to not just give up coffee, but to give up caffeine.  I knew this was going to be difficult, but that is partially why I chose this discipline. In my mind, I know that I don’t want to be mastered by anything. I want to be in control of my body, mind and spirit.  And in my heart, I knew that caffeine might have me mastered.

When I start to list out the amount of caffeinated drinks I consume in a day, it becomes evident that this was a hefty sacrifice.

  • 2 cups of coffee before I go into the office
  • 1 cup of coffee at the office
  • 1 cup of coffee for a morning meeting contact work
  • 2 24oz of soda for lunch with a student
  • 1 cup of coffee in the afternoon meeting
  • 2 24oz soda for an afternoon soda with a student
  • 1 rockstar to get me going for youth group.

I know, totally disgusting and out of control.  When I began this lenten season, I was excited to get some control of my life again and not be ruled by caffeine.  But as the weeks unfolded, God revealed to me something unexpected, and even a bit terrifying.

I am not addicted to caffeine in the typical sense.  I found that I still can get out of bed. I didn’t have withdrawal symptoms like headaches.  And I wasn’t really that much more cranky and difficult to be around than I normal.

But what I did find was that I can not maintain my current pace of life without it.  Throughout these weeks where I have maintained my crazy schedule with out the aid of caffeine.  And I realized that my life is totally out of control and the expectations I have on my self are way out of balance.

In my typical week I am waking up by 6:00, running 25 miles, writing 3000-5000 words, reading 40+ chapters of scripture, preparing 3 different lessons and programs for sunday school, jr high and sr high, normal meetings, planning upcoming trips or events,5-10 contact meetings, and then trying to be a good dad and husband on top of that.

With over 200oz of caffeinated liquids running through my body I was able to maintain this, and even excel in some of it.  With no caffeine running through my veins, I have noticed a gradual deterioration in my soul.  I am not simply addicted to it, like my body needs it, I am addicted to it, like my life needs it.  And I am not going to lie, I thought that this “season of sacrifice” was going to be another opportunity to prove how strong I am, but instead God is using it to reveal some new areas brokenness in me and a place of growth and transformation for me.

It is true that I don’t want to be mastered by anything, and the thing that is mastering me is not what I drink, but how I live. Since I wasn’t expecting this revelation, I have no idea what this means for me as I move forward.  My expectations on myself are ridiculous and impossible.  My prayer for the remainder of this lenten season is that my expectations about being a follower of Christ, a pastor, a youth worker, a writer, a runner, a husband, a father and a friend would be measured by the prodding of the Holy Spirit revealed through the Word, through community, and through my on sensitivities to His leading.

How fun is it when we enter into disciplines and rituals and God actually shows up like he promises he will.  And how fun that God doesn’t just let us learn what we are prepared to learn, but that when we are genuinely open to his leading, he will correct us, rebuke us, encourage us, heal us and transform us.  And he always does this more then we could ever expect.

Who will rescue me from this body of death, Thanks be to God, who delivers me through Jesus Christ our Lord.  Romans 7:24-25.  Deliver me!