Tuesday, April 5, 2011

Eating a Cookie for Lent

Over the years, God has used Lent to teach me and show me some amazing things. A couple of years ago, I gave up sugar for Lent and I was feeling pretty good about living a sugar-free, Splenda life. I started taking cinnamon in my coffee and the only chocolate I had had was 3 or four tiny sugar-free Dove chocolates. Except for ordering sweet tea right after Lent began and a bite of a peanut butter granola bar- which I spit out, I had done a great job of not eating sugar.

About three weeks after Lent started, we decided to go to hit the Taco Bell drive-through after church. Though I had a difficult time deciding, I finally settled on a chicken Grilled Stuffed Burrito. Since my husband and I both like these, I was a little surprised when I opened the bag to find only one Grilled Stuffed Burrito.

“Honey,” I said, “They didn’t put your burrito in the bag. There’s only my burrito in the bag.”
“I didn’t order a burrito for you. That is my burrito.” He said, “You asked for a chicken soft taco. I ordered what you asked for.”
“I asked for a chicken grilled stuffed burrito,” I said.
“No you didn’t, I listen, and you ordered a chicken soft taco,” he said.

Now, it is possible that I didn’t say Grilled Stuffed Burrito because I frequently misspeak and say the wrong word. For instance, I’ll say “Did you get ice cream” when I meant to say “Did you get gas?” However on rare occasions, my husband doesn’t hear what I say. So based on our track record, it is likely that I could have said Chicken Soft Taco or that he could have heard Chicken Soft Taco. So, I asked him to go back through the long Taco Bell line so that I could have a grilled stuffed burrito. He said no.

This made me mad, spitting mad, hungry mad. So I started to eat his burrito. I didn’t say a word. I didn’t yell, cry or talk. I just slowly and deliberately ate his lunch. About halfway through, I started to feel bad and so I offered him the half of the burrito I hadn’t eaten. He declined.

We got home and God brought to mind the passage in Luke 6:27-31 that I had read before church. "But I tell you who hear me: Love your enemies, do good to those who hate you, bless those who curse you, pray for those who mistreat you. If someone strikes you on one cheek, turn to him the other also. If someone takes your cloak, do not stop him from taking your tunic. Give to everyone who asks you, and if anyone takes what belongs to you, do not demand it back. Do to others as you would have them do to you.

When I read this passage in the morning, I wondered how I could apply it. I didn’t have any enemies and no one had asked for my cloak. God said to me, “Penny, you’ve spent so much energy on not eating sugar, being perfect under a “man-made law.” I didn’t ask you to give up sugar, I asked you to love one another.” I knew had had to stop focusing on not eating sugar and start focusing on loving my husband.

So sadly, I went down stairs and had a cookie. The cookie tasted bitter in my mouth and I knew that was nothing in comparison to my selfishness. To some people eating a cookie would not be a sad thing but to me it was a sign of my sinfulness, my failure to love, and to follow His greatest command, “Love God and Love your neighbor as yourself.”

How has God used Lent to draw you closer to him and others?

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