Whims

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My shins hurt.  Ache to be precise.  With every step I take they tell me how much they despise me and my tendency to act upon a whim.

It started last July.  I was 39, weighed 205 pounds and felt like crap.  As I sat on my porch swing like a bloated slug I said, “I gotta do something.”  Then on a whim I just got up and decided I was going to run a mile.  I can’t tell you for certain how long it took me to run that mile because I’m pretty sure the space time continuum came to a screeching halt out of pure shock!  All I know for certain is that when everything stopped jiggling and oxygen again returned to my brain restoring conscious thought, I was alive.  No thanks to my whim!

The truth is, what I thought was just a whim last July was actually a catalyst to a transformation.   After recovering from my 1 mile near death experience a few days later I said, “I wonder if I could do two miles?”  I found out I could.  I went on to run my first 5K, then another, then a 6 mile obstacle race through the woods all while carrying an 8 pound sledge hammer!  Ya, that’s me and my hammer on the right…mud soaked and wearing man tights!  By the beginning of October I lost over 20 pounds in under 10 weeks.  Today my shins hurt because I’m training for a marathon.  A race I agreed to run with a friend…on a whim.

Here is the thing.  Whims have the power to kill you; like bringing home a new Ford F150 King Ranch truck without discussing it with your spouse!  A cautionary tale for another day.  But, whims also have the uncanny ability to spur us on to accomplish great things!  Those moments that spring forth from a random “what if” or an “I wonder” like Jonathan to his armor barer in 1 Samuel 14:1-15.  A seemingly random whim of “Hey, what if we went over to the garrison of those uncircumcised dudes?” ended in a slaughter of their national enemies!

Truth be told, some “whims” are actually the Holy Spirit prompting us to step out in faith and make a change.  What about you?  What whim is the Holy Spirit actually spurring you to act on and allow Him to work through?  Trust me…it’s not the King Ranch!!!!

Squatters

tresspassMy neighbor’s kid, he’s a squatter. No…literally, a squatter.  The kid lives on my side lawn.  From dawn till dusk he’s there….in my yard.  But it’s not his uninvited presence that irks me.  It’s the fact that, well, like I said…he’s a squatter.  The kid literally will drop trow and cop a squat anywhere.  I don’t know why.  Could be nature, could be nurture.  I don’t know.  But I do know where…my lawn!

Now when in the course of this six year olds life he decided to go ‘free range’ is a mystery to me. Like a lawn gnome that leaves you wondering, “Why?” this kid’s presence and miscreant activities leave me befuddled.  There are only two things I know for sure:

  1. He’s not my kid. I’ve got four of my own and while their names may occasionally escape me I still recognize their faces!
  2. This isn’t his yard. I verify that fact with every monthly mortgage payment!

So the question remains, “What event in the course of this six year olds life led him to believe that my lawn is his? What instilled this squatter’s mentality?”

Truth is many of us are no different than my neighbor’s kid. We too go through this life as squatters.  Laying claim to that which we paid no price for and ‘dumping’ on others along the way.

Jesus said, “…the kingdom of heaven is like treasure hidden in a field, which a man found and hid; and for joy over it he goes and sells all that he has and buys that field.” (Matthew 13:44 italics mine)

Far too often we see the field. We see the treasure in it, but like squatters we feed off the treasure without buying the field. Instead we hop the fence and free range.  We call to God when in need and forget him when things are fine.  We’ll attend church as long as it doesn’t go over one hour.  We want programs for our kids, but were just too busy to help teach.  We’ll freely give our opinion as to the latest message, event, lack of event, and the general state of everything holy, yet refuse to be a part of any potential solution.  And let’s not forget about our wallets which instinctively pucker up tighter than a snare drum or are conveniently not on us when the offering plate is passed.

Squatters take while refusing to give. They ingest, but the only impartation they deposit is similar to that which can be found on my lawn!

Now if you’re young in your spiritual life you may not know any better. Like my neighbor’s kid.  When he was two or three and still potty training it wasn’t that big of deal.  But eventually time moves on and so should we.  At six the kid should know better and spiritually we should too.

There really is little excuse for prolonged immaturity. At its core it’s simply selfishness.  My neighbor’s kid doesn’t want to be inconvenienced to stop playing and go to his own house to use the bathroom.  He doesn’t want to pay that price.  Don’t let it be that way in your spiritual life.

Remember, while we are commanded to love everybody…nobody likes a squatter.

 

Clean Your Plate!

photo  I have a confession to make.  Two actually.  First, that picture of rugged toddler masculinity is in fact me.  The second confession is that just like that two-year old birthday boy I still tend to be a picky eater. Growing up three words I hated hearing the most were, “Clean your plate!”  When I was a wee little lad still sporting the high chair I developed a method for avoiding the food I disliked.  Like a king upon his throne I would dismiss the evening offerings with the regal grace of a flip of the wrist.  In other words I would throw it on the floor beneath my high chair.  Yet, for all my firstborn right, for all my toddler cunning my mother was far shrewder.

One evening I sat upon my throne sifting between the edible and the remaining slop not fit for man or beast.  After surveying the offering I rendered my judgment…TO THE FLOOR!!!  Suddenly, like the space shuttle in launch, the moorings of my tray were released and I found myself being lifted from the earth.  What began as a glorious trip to the heavens quickly transitioned into a crash landing across her knee.  Yes…I got spanked.  To make matters worse, my mother had gotten wise to my rendering of culinary judgment.  Unbeknown to me this bastion of maternal affection that brought me into the world had secretly placed a sheet beneath my high chair. If I wouldn’t eat it from my throne, I would eat it from the floor.  And eat it from the floor I did!  Well played mother, well played.  I told you she was shrewd!

Now, reading that you may laugh. You may be horrified and think its abuse.  Relax.  I’m OK.  To tell the truth I’m grateful for that experience.  It’s one of the earliest memories I have and while I didn’t realize it at the time it was the first spiritual lesson I ever learned in life: You can’t just eat what you want.  Often it’s that which we find most unpalatable which is most necessary for us to consume.

2,000 years ago Jesus dealt with the finicky eating habits of the masses.  But, rather than cave to their tantrums and “cook” to their whims Jesus challenged them to expand their palate.  Jesus put a sheet under their high chair stating, “Unless you eat my flesh and drink my blood you have no part of me.”

When Jesus said we must ‘eat his flesh and drink his blood’ what was he saying?  Here is what I believe.  The flesh and blood symbolized all of who Jesus is.  It’s the total package not just the attractive part.  Jesus is the bread and Jesus is the word.  To have life we must consume and digest all of the word not just the parts that are easily palatable to us!  We can’t pick and choose what we like.  We can’t pick and choose what we believe and ignore what we don’t like.

All of his word is truth and we must accept that and incorporate it all into our daily life.  If we are unwilling to accept and consume all of who he is we aren’t actually serving Jesus.  We are serving a God after our creation.  This is the essence of idolatry; the exaltation of our carnal reasoning.  Like Adam in the garden we disregard and we substitute based upon the preference of our carnal man.  As with Adam our result will be the same.  When we feed only according to our fleshly preferences we eat of death.

So why does he want us to consume all of him?  Because unlike manna he is the bread that rises!  As we eat all that he is, he promises to raise us up unto eternal life.  When we consume all the Word of God and apply it to our daily life our carnal man gets crucified.  It’s uncomfortable.  Let’s be honest it downright hurts!  But, here’s the thing; there can be no resurrection where there has not first been a death!

Four times in John chapter six Jesus declares that it is the Father’s will that we be raised up.
39 And this is the Father’s will which hath sent me, that of all which he hath given me I should lose nothing, but should raise it up again at the last day.
40 And this is the will of him that sent me, that every one which seeth the Son, and believeth on him, may have everlasting life: and I will raise him up at the last day.
44 No man can come to me, except the Father which hath sent me draw him: and I will raise him up at the last day.
54 Whosoever eateth my flesh, and drinketh my blood, hath eternal life; and I will raise him up at the last day.

The unpalatable word will kill you, but that’s alright.  It’s supposed to.  The Word that kills you is the Word that will perfect and resurrect you.  So go on…“clean your plate!”