February 5, 2010
Things arent always as they appear. Most adults know this to be true. But children often learn the hard way. A few years back my wife and I were invited to a friends house for dinner. We brought our little one and she was fascinated by her new surroundings. Our friends have a coffee table with a bowl filled with a variety of fruits. Instantly, it caught our daughters eyes. She started smacking her lips saying num nums (her expression for food). We watched her as she reached for the fruit, grabbed an apple, and attempted to sink her front two teeth into it. The taste of plastic left not only a bad taste in her mouth, but also left her confused and frustrated. What appeared to be a bowl of fresh fruit or, in our daughters world, num nums turned out to be just hollow pieces of plastic. Something that appeared to bring nourishment was empty on the inside.
If we are honest with ourselves, we know that many times we treat our relationship with God like a bowl of plastic fruit. In an age of instant information, microwave ovens and quick fixes, the idea of staying in a place for an extended period of time for inner working to begin is such a foreign concept. We desire change in our timing and if it doesnt come right away we move on to the next thing demanding our attention. This mindset encourages us to look for band-aid (behavior change and shortcuts) solutions to cure the deeper issues taking place inside our heart.
Fixing bad habits like swearing, overeating, and gossiping takes effort for sure, but isnt that overtly challenging to do. Relying on pure will power, you can quit engaging in destructive behaviors for a period of time. To the outsiders eyes, it might appear that growth has occurred and it has to a degree. But, you still leave yourself vulnerable to falling back to your old ways if you dont search for the deeper struggles of the heart. You have to avoid taking shortcuts and devote the time necessary to ask what drives those bad habits.
If you are ever going to have the chance for real change to occur, you must see past the lie that a change in behavior is all you need. Going to the gym to get in shape will not answer the question of why you turn to food when you are depressed. You might solve your lusting problem by getting rid of your computer, but have you taken the time to fully understand your tendency to turn to pornography when you are lonely and craving intimacy?
Disciplines can become shortcuts if you don’t take the time to answer the question “why.” Finding the answers to those challenging questions requires brutal honesty. This is the reason many of us stop short of true spiritual transformation and exchange it for shortcuts and a false sense of outer change. As you begin to arrange your life around your one word, remember growth requires time and intention on your part. Fight the urge to be plastic fruit by relying on shortcuts.
Wed love to hear your response to the following question: Why do you seek out quick fixes rather than devote the time towards inner change? What are some examples of shortcuts youve taken that have led to plastic fruit?