Going on a Spiritual Diet
Every year on January 1st, after gorging on holiday feasts and treats, many people have a harder time squeezing into their jeans and make a New Year’s resolution to go on a diet, watch what they eat, cut out junk food, exercise more and just change some bad habits. Every year it happens and after about 2 weeks or a month, things go back to the way they were. The bad habits sneak back in, the exercise regimen becomes less frequent and we all just return to way we lived the year before and the year before that. Nothing changes much, but we have good intentions.
In the same way that our bad habits have changed our bodies, our bad spiritual habits have wrecked havoc on our spiritual lives. We don’t realize that after so many years, we have morphed and become more bloated spiritually and don’t realize how far we’ve gone until we look in the mirror and remember to how things used to be.
When I was a teenager I was more trusting of people. I made an effort to be nice. I didn’t judge people by their dress, looks or achievements. I looked at all people with openness and curiosity and hoped to make a difference in the world.
And as a young Christian, I had greater faith in God and wanted to share the Lord with everyone. I prayed earnestly and frequently. I could feel God's presence in my life and was blessed with His Spirit. I learned to rejoice in adversity and trusted God with my life. I was REALLY a different person than I am now.
But as time passed, things had to change. I was required to enter the work force and find a job and learned the value of hard work and money. I realized I was gay and was rejected for being gay. I spent more time with people who were not believers. I fell in love. I lost love. Life’s disappointments took a toll on me. My faith began to wane and I became more disillusioned. I prayed less. I became less caring. I became more judgmental and had no problem dismissing people with a wave of my hand. I became jaded, cynical, depressed and apathetic.
Real life crushed me and because of that, I let myself go SPIRITUALLY.
When I was younger, things affected me more. Scary movies REALLY SCARED ME. Photographs of war and death really frightened me. People who were not nice, really bothered me. And if someone hurt me, I was REALLY HURT.
When I got older and encountered young people, I said to myself, “I was naïve like them once.” When I saw and heard of evil or violence, it didn’t faze me and when someone hurt me, I held a grudge and never let go. When I was asked to help or volunteer, I decided I had better things to do and walked away. And worst of all, I barely prayed to the Lord, and if I did, my heart, soul and mind were a million miles away.
I was a completely different person from when I was young.
Like our bodies, no one ever thinks they are getting old, out of shape or overweight. No one ever believes that they are pessimistic, cynical, apathetic, lazy or negative, but in reality, many of us are.
Like a person who craves crappy food with too much salt, sugar or fat, I realized I was on a steady diet of SPIRITUAL JUNK FOOD. I grabbed everything around me with both arms, but those things were not always so healthy for me.
I had no problem digesting TV shows and movies that included violence, crime, evil, fear, sex, fantasy, nudity, terrorists, blood and gore, devils, monsters, zombies and ghosts. They were the equivalent of a JUNK FOOD FIX. And just like salt, sugar and fat, I became VERY addicted to this spiritual junk food, craving more and more, yet still feeling spiritually hungry.
In the same way that I stopped exercising many years ago, I also stopped serving the Lord in ways that mattered. In the place of serving God, I spent a lot of my time, pursuing my own interests, watching TV or surfing the internet, obsessing about nonsense and just wasting time. I became spiritually lazy and complacent, doing NOTHING with my faith. Whenever my faith was tested I took the easy way out instead of exercising my faith to make my relationship with God stronger.
I was content that being saved was enough and fulfilled my “obligation” to God with occasional trips to church. I barely exercised my faith. I hardly read the Word, and prayed to God once in awhile. I never made much of an effort to help anyone else unless there was a benefit in it for me. I never found time to do anything for the Lord because I was too obsessed with my own concerns, issues and activities.
I was also avoiding SPIRITUAL HEALTH FOOD. There were times when I should have been praying, doing something for God, reading the Bible, getting involved, helping people or volunteering, but I considered my own stuff more worth my time. Just like eating fruits and vegetables, instead of choosing something healthy, I opted for the fatty pleasurable dessert.
When in church, as soon as I sat down in the Worship Service, my mind wandered to what was happening in my life, my plans for the day or what I was going to eat for lunch. My ears heard the songs, prayers and sermon, but my heart was somewhere else. My eyes were on the clock.
My own prayer time was limited to grace and my conversations with God only occurred when I needed help or wanted a problem to be fixed.
Worst of all my faith in God was growing weaker, but I just didn’t really worry about it. I had stronger faith when I was younger, but life's disappointments left me less hopeful, not realizing my lack of faith contributed to my disappointments.
Then one day, after feeling empty, I looked in the mirror and realized that I needed a SPIRITUAL CLEANSE. I had really let myself go. When I understood what kind of person I had become, I finally woke up. I was the type of Christian I had always criticized for being lukewarm and hypocritical.
I knew I needed to stop doing what I was doing and make an about face and get my act together.
I had spent years pouring SPIRITUAL JUNK FOOD into my soul avoiding GOD’S SPIRITUAL FOOD. I had ignored all things good and focused on what I thought would make me happy, and by not exercising my faith, I was totally out of shape.
Since that realization, I have already started shedding and dumping negative stuff that brings me down. Besides the material attachments in my home, I have tried to refrain from surrounding and entertaining myself with darkness and negativity. I am reflecting on God's positive gifts and seeking to spread His positive love.
I am also slowly getting rid of the spiritual fat that has been accumulating in my life. Bad attitudes that I have been holding onto, festering resentments, selfish desires and useless ideals. All of the stuff that has been running my life and taking control of me for so long.
I am mindful now of where my thoughts wander to and what excuses I make for my spiritual laziness and I have also started giving more time to God and less to myself. I am looking to see where I can make a difference by helping or volunteering and just getting away from focusing on myself all day long.
I have to return to that place that when I hear of real violence and evil, I am repulsed, instead of apathetic.
When I hear of good things, that I am truly touched and inspired.
When I hear of injustice, that I will say and do something about it, not just sit on the sidelines and commenting.
And when people make me angry or frustrated that I will give them to God and learn to forgive and let go.
That when opportunities arise to make a difference, even a small one that I will take the challenges and be proactive instead of passive.
That I will trust the Lord in all aspects of my life and know that all things are for the good and God will always be there with me.
And that I can rest in God’s spirit of peace, calm and joy instead of the devil’s spirit of frustration, darkness, fear, restlessness, anger, depression or pessimism.
Like our bodies, we can’t turn the clock back to when we were younger, energetic, more fit and slim, but we can always start anew from wherever we are to turn around and draw closer to God, taking one day at a time.
Join me in Jesus' renewal to become who He meant for us to be.
Praise the Lord and Happy New Year!
© 2015 Edrick
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