Saturday, April 10, 2010

What Keeps Me Going

I love a good two-by-four upside the head.

Epiphanies grant a fresh start. The probably illusory effect of striking, profound realizations gives a feeling of enthusiasm to a tired person. Armed with this new knowledge, you feel you could go on indefinitely.
Now that I know this, now that I have learned this secret, I will not be so easily distracted from my purpose.

It is the feeling of a new diet or the purchase of a treadmill or a good pair of bright new running shoes and a brisk, fall day.
Of course, the diet will eventually turn into one more day of eating food you don't like, the treadmill becomes a wardrobe, the shoes get dingy and the brisk, fall day is a good excuse to light a fire in the fireplace and cook up a steaming pot of chili.
To take an analogy from the world of politics, an unwise move perhaps, remember the sad sack days of the GOP in the aftermath of the '08 election?
The GOP was the ninety-pound weakling on the beach getting sand kicked into his face by Charles Obama Atlas while the adoring American public looked on.
The Republican spun in a circle, looking for a new direction. Someone suggested they might try simply adhering to their core principles.
Admittedly, this lacked sparkle.
Imagine an an up-and-coming exercise guru being introduced on Oprah. After all the applause dies down and O! the oracle begins to ask the fitness expert what his philosophy is, the answer delivered to a breathless studio audience and millions of fat Americans watching at home is just this:

"I think we should eat healthy food in smaller portions and try to exercise more."

The studio audience wishes they had waited to get tickets until Tom Cruise was on again and the millions of fat Americans watching at home get discouraged with the idea of fitness altogether and switch over to the food channel.
Because this is old stuff. It's boring. Maybe it works, but it's boring.
Give me something new, something crazy, something that sounds like it would never work.
Give me As Seen On TV! gadgets and herbal laxatives.
Give me colon cleansers and diet pills.
Give me a Hollywood diet program with before and after photos with a time lapse of eight hours and clothes that won't fit any more and weight loss measured not in pounds, but inches.
I know it's a little prosaic to bring in the old spiritual parallel right here, but I didn't spend the last ten minutes just to end on a rant about an acai berry diet.
I'm always on the lookout for a new mindset. Some new revelation that will transform studying to show myself approved into a wealth of suddenly acquired, instantly recalled knowledge.
Something that will cast everything in my life in a glow of spirituality.
And there is plenty of gravy out there for me to sop my roll in.
So many "life-changing" books, DVD's, programs, mindsets, prayers and purposes.
It's safe to say that there is at least one revolutionary new concept to red bull my spiritual walk for every day of the year. And, to be fair, probably most of them contain some useful tenets.
(As sick as I am of purpose-driven everything, the opening salvo of Rick Warren's original work was, and is, jolting and refreshing. 'It's not about you.')
But there's always a post-discovery let-down.
Screwtape told Wormwood that God allows "this disappointment to occur on the threshold of every human endeavour. It occurs when the boy who has been enchanted in the nursery by Stories from the Odyssey buckles down to really learning Greek. It occurs when lovers have got married and begin the real task of learning to live together. In every department of life it marks the transition from dreaming aspiration to laborious doing."
As much as I love stumbling onto an ice-cold spiritual energy drink on a long, hot, dry day, I know what really keeps me going.
Faith. Faith that sometimes feels so dry.
Faith that feels like its pulling me along so slow that the only logical explanation for moving mountains is that they simply crumbled into dust before I could get to them.
One foot in front of the other, fueled by a slow, time-released work of grace.
God knows what I need. And He gives it to me in "just-enough" portions every day.
And I am so . . . unspeakably grateful.