Why I Gave Up Coffee

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Ahhh coffee. What would I do without it? Oh, wait. I am without it. For 4 days already. That’s right. I gave up coffee. Now, wait up. You gave up coffee for good? you may ask. Well, for good, yes, but not forever.

You see, coffee has always been the reason I wake up in the morning and the thing that keeps me going through the day. People that know me, know that I’m OBSESSED  with it. The fact that I judge cafes and restaurants by the taste and quality of their vanilla lattes, should say a little about how much I enjoy this amazing drink.

Through my college years, I have become addicted to it. It has become what I NEED instead of what I WANT. My job requires waking up early, and school has just been difficult, so I depend on coffee to keep me sane.

The reason I gave this life saving thing up, is because of Lent. Yes, the mostly Catholic observance. A quick lesson: Lent comes from the Anglo-Saxon word “lencten” which simply means “Spring”. Just an fyi (for your information), I am a Protestant Christian, and observing Lent has never been important in our denomination. But I am a curious person and I think that it’s great that many denominations observe it. The traditional purpose of Lent is the preparation of the believer through prayer, penance, repentance of sins, alms-giving, atonement and self-denial. I believe that a Christian should always pray and repent of their sins daily, but the word “self-denial” caught my eye.

Lent is observed for 40 days before Easter. This year it started on February 10th and lasts until March 26th (46 days if you count all the Sunday’s). The original number of days that Lent was observed, was 40. The number “40” has always had special spiritual significance regarding preparation. On Mount Sinai, preparing to receive the Ten Commandments, “Moses stayed there with the Lord for 40 days and 40 nights, without eating any food or drinking any water” (Exodus 34:28). Elijah walked “40 days and 40 nights” to the mountain of the Lord, Mount Sinai (I Kings 19:8). Most importantly, Jesus fasted and prayed for “40 days and 40 nights” in the desert before He began His public ministry. All of these were important things that people in the Bible had to do before they began some sort of ministry.

But what does this have to do with coffee??

Coffee was something that I couldn’t live without. I wouldn’t give it up if I got paid to. In the Bible, it talks about Jesus saying “If anyone wishes to come after Me, he must deny himself, and take up his cross daily and follow Me” (Luke 9:23). I realized that coffee was something that I was depending on to keep me happy, sane, fulfilled. And you might think, “it’s just coffee, Olesya.” And I’m okay with you thinking that. But for me, giving up something that I am literally addicted to, in order to deny myself and my fleshly desires, in order to follow Jesus, is a really big deal.

These past 4 days have been extremely hard. From constant headaches, that no pills can help, to not being able to stay awake at work, these days have actually been a God-sent. Every time I crave coffee, a little voice would say “wait, why am I doing this again?” And it always brought me back to Jesus.

It made me realize that actually, there are way more things that I am dependent on. My person, my life changer and savior, has not been the center of my life.

Whether it’s social media (this is a big one for me),  a boyfriend or girlfriend, a TV show (so is this one), a kind of music, or even my example- coffee, if something is holding you back from surrendering your life to Jesus completely, my advice- give it up. Someone once said “If you gave something up for the Lord, tough it out. Don’t act like a Pharisee looking for a loophole.” The pharisees always looked for shortcuts and ways to show people that they’re “perfect”. Don’t do that. Surrender yourself before the Lord. If that means slowly giving something up and not all at once, do that. If that means talking to someone, do that. If that just means having a quiet moment with God every day, do that. But don’t let your fleshly desires keep you from completely serving and loving your Savior.

I have over a month left, and I know it’s gonna be really tough. But who said denying yourself was gonna be easy? Giving up coffee was just one small example, as I am constantly giving up my worldly pleasures for the Lord. But let me tell you, it is so worth it.

 

 

 

 

 

 

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Be Still and Know

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My dad always says, “if we fully understood God and His ways, He wouldn’t be God.”

How many of us struggle to understand God’s ways? How many times have we said “Why?” to God. How many times have we dropped our heads and said “I can’t do this anymore”? For me, its way too many to count.

As I was praying and asking God for inspiration about what to talk about next on my blog, I began to read scripture. I have been reading the Bible using a chronological plan, but I tend to stop and go back to Psalms once in a while. How amazing it is that God always seems to open up new things every time you read His word.

When reading Psalms, I kept noticing the same theme in the chapters that I read. Trust.

I am not an expert at trusting God. At all. This is something that I have been struggling with since I was probably 12. But the great thing is that I don’t have to be perfect at anything. I serve a perfect God, who always loves, forgives, and gives second, third, fourth chances.

“God is in the midst of her, she shall not be moved” {Psalm 46:5}

“Cast your burden on the Lord, and He will sustain you ” {Psalm 55:22}

“But I will trust in You” {Psalm 55:23}

“In God, whose word I praise, in God I trust: I shall not be afraid” {Psalm 56:4}

Sometimes, I have to keep reminding myself that God is not some old guy in the sky with a mean look on his face, ready to throw me into hell for the next sin I commit. I have to tell myself that He is love. That His anger is only for a moment, but His favor is for a lifetime (psalm 30:5).

Sometimes He puts us in crazy circumstances and we pray and pray and pray, but the situation seems to get worse and it feels like we are never going to get an answer. How are we to trust God then?

He uses these circumstances to change our hearts. He uses them to make us more like Him.

1It’s okay to breakdown

Sometimes all you can ever do is just breakdown. Cry. Yell. Sit in silence. However you do it, know that God hears that. In Psalm 56:8 it says “You have kept count of my wanderings, put my tears in your bottle. Are they not in your book?” Not only does God take our tears and puts them in a special place, he also writes that down. Whenever we breakdown in front of God, we are showing our humility and asking Him to help, because He is greater than the circumstance that we are going through.

2. Worship

I can’t remember a single time when I prayed and I didn’t feel better afterwords. God gives us peace. When we give Him our time and talk with Him, His peace flows over us and instantly we feel better. The circumstance may not have changed, but our heart has. “Lead me to the rock that is higher than I” (Psalm 61:2). Worship is not just a song that we sing on Sundays, it’s a way of life. The way we connect with God. David says in Psalm 63:3, “Because your steadfast love is better than life, my lips will praise You.” If you still feel like something in your life is better than Jesus, worship Him, pray to Him, and your priorities will begin to shift.

3. Trust, trust, trust

Remember: He made the heavens and the earth. He made you and me. He helped us through this day. He hasn’t turned his face from us. He continues to love us. He DIED for us.

I went through a tough time last year. I lost two people who I loved. Things didn’t go according to “my plan.” God kept sending trials my way that I thought would kill me spiritually.

But through all of that, the same verse kept replaying in my head.

“Be still and know that I am God” (Psalm 46:10)

How amazing it is to know that He is God. I may never understand why exactly I need to do this, or why I am going through what I am, but the fact that he is God, gives me peace. He sent His Son to die for me. He saved me out of eternal darkness, and He never forgets me, even if my own mother will (Isaiah 49:15).

He is so much more than I will ever dream of or comprehend.

“The hands that cradle the stars, are the hands that bled for me” -Hillsong (Aftermath)

I also like to listen to my favorite spoken word during times like these. If any of you are interested, its called “Trust more” by Oscar Urbina.

I hope I have encouraged some of you that are going through a hard time. I hope God uses his amazing powerful love to change your hearts and to teach you, like He’s been teaching me, to trust Him.