Jesus said, “But when you fast, put oil on your head and wash your face, so that it will not be obvious to others that you are fasting.” It’s clear that Jesus was speaking before the amazing power of coffee beans was released.
Yesterday, many people gave up caffeine for Lent. Today, they are waking up. They are taking a couple Excedrin for the pain relief and the caffeine. And they are wondering whether Jesus would mind so much if they just had one cup. Because it’s really obvious that they are fasting.
Those people are walking into work and sitting next to someone who gave up television for Lent. As a result, for the first time in many Thursdays, that person has no idea what happened on CSI. And it is really obvious from the look of confusion on her face that she is fasting.
All across the cubicle farm, dark clouds of frustration gather as the commitment that felt wonderful and noble on Wednesday morning confronts the reality of Thursday.
And that is the point. Thursday is when we make the choice to keep going.
Of course, this is not just a Lent issue. This is a habit issue, an intentionality issue. Every time we take a specific step to focus on God, to be more aware of developing our relationship, there is resistance. Sometimes it is a spiritual resistance, but most often, we are our own resistance. The habits we have formed push back at us when we change them.
Which is why we take these small specific steps at Lent and other times. Because Jesus invites us to break habits of not following and make habits of following. Not so we can impress others; that’s why we do our best to not drag others into our pain. But so we can talk with God about the things we depend on.