A Slave to More than Caffeine
- Benjamin Kerns Pastor to children and students, Marin Covenant Church, San Rafael, Calif.; regional youth ministry facilitator in his denomination for the Pacific Southwest; Blog: http://averageyouthministry.com
- 2011 19 Apr
This year for Lent, I decided not just to 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. Yet in my heart, I knew that caffeine might have me mastered.
When I start to list the amount of caffeinated drinks I consumed in a day, it became 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 24-oz. sodas for lunch with a student
• 1 cup of coffee in the afternoon meeting
• 2 24-oz. sodas for an afternoon meeting 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, 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 such as headaches. I wasn't really that much more cranky and difficult to be around than I normally am.
What I found out was that I cannot maintain my current pace of life without it. Throughout these weeks when I have maintained my crazy schedule without the aid of caffeine, I realized my life is totally out of control and the expectations I have on myself are way out of balance.
In my typical week, I am waking up by 6 a.m., running 25 miles, writing 3,000-5,000 words, reading 40+ chapters of Scripture, preparing three different lessons and programs for Sunday School, junior high and senior high grous, regular meetings, planning upcoming trips or events, 5-10 contact meetings, and then trying to be a good dad and husband.
With more than 200 ounces of caffeinated liquids running through my body, I was able to maintain this and even excelled 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, as if my body needs it -- I am addicted to it as if my lifestyle needs it. I won't lie: I thought this season of sacrifice was going to be another opportunity to prove how strong I am. Instead, God has used it to reveal some new areas of 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. Because I wasn't expecting this revelation, I have no idea what this means for me as I move forward. The expectations I place 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, pastor, youth worker, writer, runner, husband, father and 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 as He promises He will. 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. He always does this more then we ever could 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!