Saturday, January 22, 2011

The trouble with fruit...or running long distance

Jon Acuff continues to challenge me with his blog postings, thoughts, and ideas. Read on, my friends. :)

I’m starting to hate Gordo.

At first, he seemed like a good guy. Always around, up for a good time, he was the life of a party. Now though, after spending a few months with him, I beginning to think he might be a bad influence.

On my pants.

Over the last few months I’ve been hanging out way too much with “Gordo’s Cheese Dip,” the microwaveable version of queso that Walmart sells. I put on 10 pounds and several pairs of my pants are suddenly too short. At first I hoped it was the arrival of my much prayed for late growth spurt that would add a foot to my height, thus allowing me to dunk. But unfortunately that is not the case.

Now clearly, 10 extra pounds is not a massive crisis, but let’s do the math. I gained 10lbs in four months. Over a year, that’s a potential 30 extra pounds. That is a big deal. So I did what I did in college to get in shape, I ran three times and thought about being healthy. But apparently, your metabolism goes on sabbatical when you turn 35 because that did nothing.

Frustrated, and now wearing pants from the “husky” side of my closet, I decided something needed to change. I started eating a slow carb diet. I read that people who keep food photo diaries made better eating decisions so I started to take a photo of all my meals. I stopped eating snacks after dinner and quit drinking soda. I started going to a trainer three days a week with some buddies from work.

And in the middle of this new found discipline, I realized something disappointing:

I apply more focus and purpose to my diet than I do my deity.

With gusto I was now devouring spinach and drinking massive amounts of water. I was eating legumes by the bushel, two words I had never even used before. I was killing myself in the gym with a football style weight sled called the “prowler.” I made a commitment to being healthy and was executing that commitment with ferocity.

All the while ignoring my faith.

I’d read the Bible, if I thought of it.

I’d grab a quiet time, if nothing else came up.

I’d pray in between things, if I could fit God into the margins of my day.

And although my pants started to fit better after a few weeks, my heart and soul continued to suffer as I treated God like a casual hobby, not a critical savior. Have you ever done that? Have you ever said, “I just have such a hard time maintaining a consistent quiet time! I’m just not good at forming habits!” Meanwhile, your diet is on point, you never miss an episode of your favorite TV show and your weekly progress reports to your boss are a well organized thing of beauty.

I probably wouldn’t have been so bothered by my realization about my diet if the Bible was fuzzy on this issue, but it is unfortunately not. Here is what Proverbs 3:9 says:

“Honor the Lord with your wealth, with the firstfruits of all your crops”

That word, “firstfruits” is a powerful one. We’re not called to give God the last scraps of our fruit, the remainder, but rather the “firstfruits.” Now clearly, there are financial ramifications to that verse, but what if it’s bigger than that? What if we’re called to give:

The firstfruits of our time.

The firstfruits of our creativity.

The firstfruits of our focus.

The firstfruits of our energy.

The firstfruits of our love.

Can you imagine what church would be like if members gave the firstfruits of their creativity to the Lord? We complain that the church is cheesy sometimes. Of course it is, we’ve been feeding it rotten fruit.

Can you imagine what church would be like if we gave the firstfruits of our love? We like to take shots at the church for being unloving and judgmental. Of course it is, we’ve been feeding it rotten fruit.

Can you imagine what it would be like for your life if you gave God the firstfruits of your time? I can’t because all too often I’ve given him rotten fruit. But I’m trying to change that and I’ve already learned something new in the process.

When I give God my firstfruits in the morning, when I start the day with him, it’s like putting on 3D glasses. The rest of the day looks different. I can see his hand more clearly, hear his voice louder, and feel his touch closer.

I’m not perfect at the firstfruits concept. At heart, this is an “I’m failing, but don’t want to” post. But with grace and hope, I’m working on being more deliberate with my firstfruits.

Let’s stop giving God our last fruits.

Jon Acuff could not have hit the nail harder on the head. I run anywhere from 45-65 miles per/week, depending where in my training schedule I am. I run in rain, cold weather, heat, humidity, you name it...but I am not near as good at reading my bible and spending time in the Word, as I am at keeping up with my running schedule. God doesn't call me to run, then spend time with Him, God asks for the firstfruits of my time.

I believe the consequences of spending more time with Jesus, would be quite positive. The thought of feeding Christ rotten fruit is sad. And far too many days, I don't even give Jesus the rotten old fruit, my quiet time just goes by the wayside.

My challenge to you (and myself) this week, is to give to Christ the firstfruits of our creativity, focus, energy, love, and time. How are you going to bless others this week?


RuthT said...

Wow, good thinking points through out! Thanks for sharing this one.

Anonymous said...

Definitely wow....Really makes you stop and think about where your priorities really are. When I read "The thought of feeding Christ rotten fruit is sad. And far too many days, I don't even give Jesus the rotten old fruit" it really hit home. I definitely don't want to be giving Jesus my rotten fruit. Nice posting.