This post was going a completely different way. Then an analogy popped in my head and the entire 500 words was scrapped, all for the sake of chocolate-covered strawberries.
Yesterday, as I studied, I was thinking about faith, about the battle between our spirit and our flesh. I realized a few things. One, there will always be a battle. Even if we think our flesh is dead and gone, it will come back to overpower a weak spirit. Two, our flesh does not change, the desires it had before it was killed off will be the same desires it is resurrected with (I am talking about our fleshly nature here, not the glorified bodies). Three, who you serve is who you feed.
Four, you can "feed" your spirit and your flesh at the same time.
Before you can at me with "no man can serve two masters" let me explain. It is like chocolate-covered strawberries. On one hand, they are good for you, but they are still not considered healthy, right? Why? Because chocolate is not the best thing in the word for you. If it were, it would be in a food group other than "fats."
But what are spiritual chocolate-covered strawberries. They appear spiritual but are fleshly motivated. For instance, I read my Bible every morning for ten minutes because that is 'spiritual' but my motivation in doing it is to impress... myself, I guess. Maybe that's why people opt for chocolate-covered strawberries instead of candy bars. At least reading five chapters is better than reading a romance novel, right?
So, while my spirit man may be gleaning a bit of sustenance from my meal of candied fruit, the one who is really getting the benefit is my flesh. It should be no surprise to me, then, that in the end my flesh is stronger. It wins out.
Yesterday was a day that solidified the reality of chocolate-covered strawberries. Here I felt like I was doing a good job devotionally-wise. I was pretty faithful about reading my Bible every morning and read for a decent amount of time and I would pray through my students and other needs at the front of my mind. I thought I was doing pretty good. Someone else, a complete stranger, told me otherwise.
I received a phone call, and interview yesterday morning as I removed a load of laundry from the dryer. I walked over to a comforter and sat down and was asked to share my devotional life. So I bragged about how I can pray in the car while I am driving to work, and how I have this Hebrew-Greek study Bible that makes me the equivalent of a theology grad student (not really). I felt pretty impressed by myself. Surely I had to be making an impression on this person. Not really.
He said very plainly that my devotional life needs a lot of work. It was like getting a cavity from my chocolate-covered strawberries. Maybe more of a root canal. It hurt. My flesh immediately went into revolt as he challenged me to up the ante in my spiritual life and really make time for God. Two hours each morning was the challenge.
When that was first presented I was reeling. Two hours!? Two hours is for people like Charles Spurgeon or Amy Carmichael. Two hours is not for people like me. As I listened to him explain his challenge, I calmed a little. He asked, "How do you feel about that?" There was a long pause, and all I could say was, "Woah."
That is like an all-organic diet, or a juice fast. It's for those 'other people' not for me. Jessica doesn't do organic. I like my chocolate-covered strawberries, thank you very much. But then it occurred to me. I had it all wrong. The 'spiritual greats' did not have great spiritual lives because they were great. No. The spiritual greats were great because they had great spiritual lives. They were spiritually healthy because they had ditched the chocolate-covered strawberries. You don't get healthy and then decide to eat right. You eat right and then become healthy.
So, two hours it is, but not right away. It's like training for a marathon. It takes time to develop... and those chocolate covered strawberries have to go.