I’ve lost weight before. I ate what I wanted, didn’t bother to exercise and when I stepped on the scale found a nice surprise. Metabolism? Extra inadvertent steps? Who knows, but this is lost weight. I’ve lost my keys too. It took as much effort and planning to lose my keys as it did to lose the weight. And in this case, ‘lose’ is the correct verb for both incidents.
I have also worked hard, suffered, sacrificed, and REMOVED weight from my body. Intentionally. This weight wasn’t lost, it was systematically and forcefully removed. It wasn’t happenstance. It wasn’t a fluke. It wasn’t a question mark as I approached the scale each day. I earned my health.
Hopefully you realize the difference isn’t simply semantical. Many of us are content to lose. And even after sloth, we find pride when we do. ‘Look at that, I lost 3 pounds after that stomach virus! Woot!‘
Compare this way of thinking with your relationship with God. Of course we have to say right off the bat that we don’t “earn” anything with God. But we do have responsibilities to keep the relationship going. And often, we take the same approach as we do with weight loss. We focus on what we can lose.
We can be passive and just watch the loss happen. We can be a pew warmer in our church lives. Never engaging, never connecting, never growing. We can prioritize private reading and prayer time last in our lives (often getting neglected in favor of more exciting things like TV, internet, or the latest I-Device).
We can live for the weekends and then waste those as well. And then we hit a high note. We get something right, possibly by accident, or just circumstances that line up in our favor. And we proudly exclaim, ‘look at that! I lead a prayer, or I really helped that person, etc.. ‘ We puff up and feel like we have really accomplished something when we didn’t really do anything at all.
I fear many of us know the spiritual rut of complacency. And the walls are lined with lies about how well we are doing when the scales just keep shouting out, “obese!”. We are meant to pursue Jesus the same way we intentionally and specifically remove weight. We go after Him. We drop high calorie friends and cut out fatty habits. We dive into the word, we wrap our minutes all throughout the day with prayer.
We don’t just happen to bump into Jesus and make a good impression… we chase Him down. We cannonball into the baptismal and come out dripping with the Savior and His desires for our life. Can you feel the difference? One approach says, whatever will happen will happen as long as I don’t have to do much. The other says, I am loved by God, and that is how I will be known. I will carry my cross and follow Him. I will look like Him. I will be blessed and forgiven by Him. I will not wait for the right moment or the right lighting or the right song, or the right circumstances… I will go now. Because now is the only moment I have any say over.
I didn’t earn Him. He was a gift. But I refused to let Him pass me by. I accept.