(journal entry from March 31, 2016)
Yesterday, my family and I traveled to Grand Cayman Island to begin our week long vacation for spring break, which is just a really fancy term for “try not to kill each other.” My dad has a very busy work schedule, so we rarely ever get to all four sit down and enjoy a home cooked meal together. Vacations for us are our time to cook out and eat together as a big happy (but sometimes whiny) family. So naturally, literally minutes after we are off the plane we find ourselves at the grocery store in search for goodies. Now if there is one thing about me anyone should know, it’s that I love Hubert. And no Hubert isn’t my boyfriend, I’m talking about Hubert’s Original Lemonade company. They make the best lemonades, teas, and all that good stuff like none other. In a foreign country, I always crave little things from home, so along with a weekly stash of greek yogurt, I also grab a fancy little lemonade from my pal Hubert. My favorite thing about this particular company’s product is the little disclaimer they leave for you in the cap. “Consuming this product may cause joy.” It’s so cute and it never fails to put a smile on my face.
That night, as my family ate dinner, the message ran through in my head once again. This time, however, two words really stuck out to me. Those words were “consuming” and “joy.” In my head I thought to myself:”God, what are you trying to tell me through a silly little bottle cap?” And the thing about God is that when you as Him a question, He is sure to answer. Just have to listen.
The word consuming is defined as completely filling one’s mind and attention and or absorbing (props to Google for the quick definitions I looked up right after the words came to mind, and I feel as though they are pretty accurate). After reading this definition, I was immediately convicted. What was filling my mind and what was I letting absorb into my thoughts and spirit? woah. As we are eating, a verse comes to mind.
“Taste and see that the Lord is good.” Psalm 34:8
This verse is a Psalm of David. I have heard this verse many times before and never understood what it was really saying. What do you mean taste the Lord? That makes no sense. But I realized that the consumption that God was trying to tell me about was what I am feeding my spirit. I was reminded of a saying my youth pastor gave us a few weeks ago during his sermon. He said: “What you feed grows and what you starve dies.” I thought to myself am I feeding my flesh or my spirit? Am I filling my spirit with things of the flesh such as bad music, ungodly friends who discuss ungodly things, inappropriate movies, etc? Am I feeding my spirit things of this world? Or am I feeding it tasteful things of God? Am I filling my spirit with scripture, worship and prayer?
I thought back to my series of unfortunate events phase, also known as my first semester of college, and how terribly miserable I was. I had grown up a Christian and loved God, so why did I let myself fall so quickly to the temptations of sin? I realized it was because of my consumption of the world. I was feeding my spirit things it had never tasted before. I was getting involved with ungodly things that opened the door for me to fail. But I didn’t just dive into the meal of sin head first. No, it started with little snacks here and there. Skipping church on Sunday mornings to sleep, listening to provocative music, hanging out with people who brought me down, dabbling with alcohol, and justifying little mistakes I made. I didn’t notice it was happening until I found myself stuffed full of unhealthy choices and slowly slipping into a junk food coma. It was like getting on the scale after a weeklong getaway and the number you read makes you realize that calories do, in fact, count on vacation. When we fill our spirits with junk, we produce junk, hence the reason I was so miserable and struggling with the guilty weight of my sin.
The word joy is defined as a feeling of great pleasure and or happiness. There was nothing more that I wanted at this point in my life than joy. I quickly realized that I had to get my life back in order when it finally registered all the damage I had done to myself. I think back to Psalm 34:8 and what it means now. The Lord is the only thing that can satisfy our hungry souls and produce joy in our lives. Therefore, we must fill our hearts and minds with the fruits of the spirit and the healthy choices of God and not the junk food that may taste good at first until you look at yourself in the mirror and notice a few pounds. I had to undergo a major and very strict diet to get myself back on track with feeding my spirit the right nutrients to make myself strong and healthy again. My spotify playlist consisted of only worship music and for literally two months straight, the only music I listened to was worship. I forced myself every night to read my Bible. I joined a small group at church and even began working in my church office to be in an uplifting environment, the total opposite of what I had been in. Now, for most people, their spiritual diet isn’t quite as strict, but I had a lot of weight to lose and it seemed like I needed nothing more than to lose it.
I started my “spiritual detox” thinking I might shed a few pounds here or there, but feeding my spirit only the healthy things of God had more of an impact than I could ever imagine. At first, my body craved the things of the flesh so badly, but I strictly stuck to my diet. Before I knew it, my body was craving the very thing I had to force feed myself. I couldn’t get enough time in the word. Not only was I reading my Bible, but I was highlighting the words, taking notes, and even memorizing scripture. Worship music wasn’t just at church anymore, but I had it playing in the shower, in the car, and even at work for background music during the day. I talked to God regularly, not just when I needed something, but I talked to Him like He was in the room, just to chat about the day and what was going on even though He already knew. It was amazing the life changes I saw in myself as a result of this diet.
I, however, was not the only one who noticed a change. And let me say this, someone noticing a positive spiritual change in you is ten times more exciting than someone noticing your new waist size or that you’ve lost a few pounds. My pastor’s wife told me than she saw a seemingly supernatural joy in me that radiated through the office. An old friend visited our church one weekend and despite only having a five minute conversation with her, she said I seemed happier than I had been the last time she saw me. A guest I had just met at a wedding I was working told me that my presence lit up a room. Now talk about positive reinforcement. I have never felt better about myself than I have recently when people say these types of things to me. It’s like I’ve lost twenty pounds or something! But all credit goes to God. Because I was filling myself with Him, He was overflowing out of me into my actions and attitude.
So from an insignificant bottle cap on a lemonade I bought in the Cayman Islands, I was reminded that what I feed my spirit is one of the most important things I have to decide in my life. I can feed it the junk of this world, or I can feed it the live giving resources from the Father. And based on my personal experience, I’ve tried both and one is far greater than the other. I have tasted and seen and can honestly say that without a doubt the Lord is good. His love is sweeter than anything I’ve tasted and His mercy is more savory than anything you can imagine. His Word gives life to our spirits and His praise brings joy to our hearts. Reading his Word brings wisdom and talking to Him brings us happiness. He died to give us life, so why would we not fill our minds and souls with all things pertaining to Him?
Disclaimer: Consuming the great goodness of the Father causes endless and abundant joy that is better than we could ever ask or think or imagine.