Lent: What You Can Learn from Diet Soda

Diet soda.

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Last week I shared that I gave up diet soda for Lent.  It seemed so simple.  Don’t drink diet soda.

Just don’t do it.

It was so simple last Wednesday.  Pretty simple on Thursday.  Even Friday was OK.  Then, Saturday I lost my willpower.  We were traveling to Virginia and stopped at a Sheetz.  The fountain diet Mountain Dew was calling my name.

I know.  This seems crazy.  It’s pop! There are 100 different things in this world to drink, and I was standing in a Sheetz obsessing over the drink machine.  My thought process went something like this…it’s only one diet Mountain Dew.  God doesn’t care what I drink.  What does this have to do with God, really?

I got nothing.  Flavored water and iced tea held no appeal.  I have to admit that I moped back to the car – frustrated because I wanted a diet MD and disgusted that I had tried to justify my lack of self-control to the Creator of the universe.

As we continued driving, I kept battling this in my mind.  Why can’t I follow the simple directive: “Just don’t do it”?  Yes, I know drinking diet soda is NOT a sin.  But, I (essentially) was choosing the diet soda over a promise I made to God.  Less than a week before, I had declared to God, I am giving up a few things for Lent in order to draw closer to you.  When I reach for a soda or sugary food, I will instead seek you through your Word or prayer.  My heart’s desire is to draw closer to you by emptying my life of things that often preoccupy me and focusing on you.  

I wanted more than anything to keep this promise to God, and I was so frustrated by my struggle to keep a simple promise. 

As I sat in the car berating myself, God gently reminded me of Paul’s words in Romans:

18 I know there is nothing good in my sinful nature. I want to do what is good, but I can’t. 19 I don’t do the good things I want to do. I keep on doing the evil things I don’t want to do. 20 I do what I don’t want to do. But I am not really the one who is doing it. It is sin living in me.

21 Here is the law I find working in me. When I want to do good, evil is right there with me. 22 Deep inside me I find joy in God’s law. 23 But I see another law working in the parts of my body. It fights against the law of my mind. It makes me a prisoner of the law of sin. That law controls the parts of my body.

24 What a terrible failure I am! Who will save me from this sin that brings death to my body? 25 I give thanks to God. He will do it through Jesus Christ our Lord.  So in my mind I am a slave to God’s law. But in my sinful nature I am a slave to the law of sin. Romans 18-25

My heart echoed Paul’s words.  I don’t do what I want to do. I keep on doing the things I don’t want to do. But, who will save me from this sinful nature?  Jesus Christ our Lord.

I have to depend totally on Christ for ANY kind of heart or life transformation.  I cannot change me.  No amount of willpower will keep me from my diet Mountain Dew.  No amount of trying and striving will keep me from sin.  Sin lives in me.  Yes, I have been saved by grace through faith and I love God with all my heart, but there are still sinful desires within me.

My sinful nature exists and persists. 

I cannot fight sin in my own strength.  While I have always known this, I still keep trying to fly solo.  Instead, I must surrender – wholly – to Christ and His power within me.

And, that’s what God’s teaching me this Lenten season through some diet soda and sugar.  He’s teaching me to fully surrender my heart – all I am and all I do – to Him.

No amount of self-determination will keep me from sin.  I have to embrace God’s provision for me:  the Holy Spirit.  When I fall – because I will in my ugly, ole sinful nature – He will lovingly pick me up.  What an amazing promise!

Are you doing what you don’t want to do?  Is there something in your life that you know is NOT the you God created? Are you feeling powerless and frustrated?  I encourage you to SEEK HIM.  Surrender; ask for His help. He’ll answer…again and again.

Comments

  1. Julie Wagner says:

    Love this! Facing the same struggles everyday, ESPECIALLY the Diet Mt. Dew! With God we can both do it!! 🙂

  2. What an encouraging post.

    Remember this, too. The aspartame in that diet soda is poison and keeps you addicted to it. Some of that may have been your body craving the soda as well.

    • Thanks, Sundi Jo! I’ve heard a lot about the dangers of artificial sweeteners lately. I should heed the warning! I do feel better:)

  3. Kim Haught says:

    How odd that as I read this I am drinking diet MD. Love your blogs Sarah.

  4. I also gave up Diet drinks. Somehow I have not had one in weeks. I really need to work on my willpower, so I am hoping this one small task will help.

  5. Don’t berate yourself too much Sarah! I “fail” at my Lenten promise every year, but remind myself that God gave us free will because he doesn’t expect us to be perfect. Our failings are to be learned from I tell myself. Forgiveness from God is how he shows us his love:) Keep working towards the goal. Mackenzie never gives something up, but always chooses a behavior to change. I find that interesting. She knows she won’t be able to give up her sweets.

  6. Sarah, thank you for sharing your heart and your struggles! Praying that you can turn your focus to him during this season of Lent!

    • Thanks, Margaret! Part of my desire to participate in Lent stemmed from reading Wonderstruck. I loved your decision to pray shorter prayers. It made me look at “fasting” in new ways. Thanks!

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