Pizza or Smoothie?

Last week I began a strict diet, hoping to take off two recently added pounds.   Unfortunately, I brought those two pounds home as souvenirs from Paris and didn’t want them to get used to hanging around. So, while the grandkids were over Friday night enjoying pizza and brownies – I drank my “smoothie.  This particular smoothie contained nonfat milk, strawberries and some “proteinish” powder that did not taste terrible – but let’s just say it wasn’t pizza and brownies. 

As I made my smoothie and watched the kids eat slice after slice of pizza, I thought about the difference between these two foods and how they relate to the way “religion” is often viewed.  (Call me crazy, maybe…but stay with me here.)  I think it is often easy to view our lives like pizza.  We slice it up in different compartments.  One slice for spiritual activities (including prayer, Bible reading, time at church, etc.); once slice for work; one for school; one for family life; one for leisure time, etc.  – until we have a complete pizza.  All the slices make up the whole.  This might be a creative way to learn fractions, but it isn’t what God has in mind for our lives.  While blending my smoothie I was reminded of a very basic and important teaching from Jesus in Mark 12:28-34.

    One of the teachers of the law came and heard them debating. Noticing that Jesus had given them a good answer, he asked him, “Of all the commandments, which is the most important?”

    [29] “The most important one,” answered Jesus, “is this: ‘Hear, O Israel, the Lord our God, the Lord is one. [30] Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind and with all your strength.’ [31] The second is this: ‘Love your neighbor as yourself.’ There is no commandment greater than these.”

    [32] “Well said, teacher,” the man replied. “You are right in saying that God is one and there is no other but him. [33] To love him with all your heart, with all your understanding and with all your strength, and to love your neighbor as yourself is more important than all burnt offerings and sacrifices.”

    [34] When Jesus saw that he had answered wisely, he said to him, “You are not far from the kingdom of God.” And from then on no one dared ask him any more questions.

Our spiritual lives, in God’s plan, are to be all wrapped up together with everything that we do and think- sort of like a smoothie where all the separate ingredients are blended together to make something new and different .  This way, everything we think and do is all mixed together with God flowing through it all – all our heart, all our soul, all our mind and all our strength.  It may be a difficult fraction to explain (1 whole heart for God + 1 whole soul committed to God+ 1 whole mind devoted to God + 1 whole strength  living for God= 1 complete disciple of Jesus) – but it works every time. 


Dive In

It was my turn.  All the other family members had taken the plunge in this particular event in our annual Summer Vacation Crazy Olympics. I was happy to be the photographer, reporter, cheerleader….just not the participant.  I don’t mind diving into water (as long as it’s not too cold,) but I wasn’t too sure about diving into the ground.

This “Human Bowling” event entailed taking a plunging slide down the slip-n-slide in order to knock over boxes set up as bowling pins.  I was a bit fearful of getting hurt on the plunge, but mainly hesitant because of the frigid water on the slide.  You see, I like my water comfortably warm, and even then I take my time to meander in so I can “get used to it.”

The more I thought about it, the more difficult it seemed. I hesitated.  I heard the chants of “Nana, Nana, Nana,…” which were partly encouraging and partly annoying.  I didn’t want to let the team down, but couldn’t I just fade into the background this once?  So, as a compromise I ran down beside  the slide with my foot in the water…hoping that would “count.”  Alas, it did not.

So, I took some spiritual lessons from inside my heart.  I’ve been reading the Old Testament of late and these lessons touched my heart.

1 Kings 18:20-21

[20] So Ahab sent word throughout all Israel and assembled the prophets on Mount Carmel. [21] Elijah went before the people and said, “How long will you waver between two opinions? If the Lord is God, follow him; but if Baal is God, follow him.”
But the people said nothing.

Elijah’s question to the crowd…”how long will you waver between two opinions?” was far reaching.  Those who wavered witnessed defeat. Those who followed the Lord wholeheartedly saw God move powerfully.

Numbers 14:24
But because my servant Caleb has a different spirit and follows me wholeheartedly, I will bring him into the land he went to, and his descendants will inherit it.

And this “different spirit” followed Caleb later in his life as we see him in Joshua 14:10-12
“Now then, just as the Lord promised, he has kept me alive for forty-five years since the time he said this to Moses, while Israel moved about in the desert. So here I am today, eighty-five years old! [11] I am still as strong today as the day Moses sent me out; I’m just as vigorous to go out to battle now as I was then. [12] Now give me this hill country that the Lord promised me that day. You yourself heard then that the Anakites were there and their cities were large and fortified, but, the Lord helping me, I will drive them out just as he said.”

So, with inspiration from Elijah and Caleb (and my cheering family) I dove in.  I made a decision to no longer hesitate, waver between two opinions or be a “has been” participant holding back in the “comfort zone.”  It felt like a moment of reckless abandon, but I am grateful I took the plunge.  It wasn’t pretty, but it was fulfilling.

More importantly, may I never hesitate, waver between two opinions, or lose eagerness and passion to keep going and growing in my spiritual walk.

Whatever right decisions you may be “wavering” to act upon, or hesitant to go forward with….Take it from the lesson from Human Bowling.  Just dive on in.  You will be glad you did.

Note:  I have much to share from the family vacation…but am saving a few chapters for a new book coming out in October.  Stay tuned….