Wednesday, January 13, 2010

Taking My Spiritual Vitamins

I don’t like seafood.

I know, I know, it’s terrible. After all, fish is supposed to be healthy. I’ve read dozens of studies about how fish is an ideal protein choice, and it has good stuff like omega-3 and all that. But I just can’t bear the taste or smell of most sea fare. If it’s not battered and deep fried to a crisp (which, of course, negates the aforementioned health benefits), then I’m just not a fish kind of gal.

Mind you, it’s not for lack of trying. My dad was a Canadian, and he grew up in Northern states where seafood was standard fare. I have vivid memories of him taking our family to seafood restaurants and, while I was desperately trying to find chicken fingers on the kids’ menu, he’d gleefully order platefuls of slimy, oozy creatures from the ocean. (By the way, why do seafood restaurants tend to feature aquariums teeming with the very sea creatures and crustaceans that you are about to eat? Ew! I don’t want to see live chickens clucking around at Chick-fil-A.)

And any residual hint of willingness to partake of aquatic animals vanished when my mom and I went to Israel and, while dining beside the Sea of Galilee, were presented platters of what is called “St. Peter’s Fish.” It looks like this:

Um, no thanks. I decided right then and there that I do not like eating animals that are looking at me. I will not eat them here or there. I will not eat them anywhere. I do not like them, Sam-I-Am.

But I know that fish oil is good for the brain, and I don’t want to stifle my kids’ brain development or anything. Neither do I want to be serving up platefuls of slimy creatures staring at them for dinner. So my compromise comes in the form of lemonade-flavored gummy omega-3 supplements added to our kids' daily vitamin regimen.

The girls are fine with these ocean-creature-shaped supplements. Our son, however, recoils from them in horror as if they were… well… actual fish.

So this morning, once again, I find myself having this conversation with him:

Me: "Eat your fish oil gummy, hon. It will make you smart."
Buddy: "But Mama, I am smart!!!"
Me: "Yes, yes, I know. You are a very smart boy. But you need to eat these gummies because they’re good for your brain."
Buddy: "But I’m smart enough! See?" (He starts singing the alphabet song, which inexplicably morphs into a rousing rendition of “Rudolph the Red-Nosed-Reindeer.”)

Me: "Yes, I see. You’re a very smart three-year-old. But I want to make sure your brain stays healthy and keeps getting smarter as you grow up. So you need to eat these gummies."

I’ll leave off here, because what followed was a series of creative attempts to get him to partake of said supplement that eventually worked (though he was none too happy about it).

* * *

You know, I’m sometimes like my three-year-old son. Oh, not about taking my fish oil supplements; I do that every day.

But sometimes, I admit, I slip into thinking that I am “smart enough,” especially when it comes to the Bible. After all, I’ve been studying the Bible for decades, and I’ve heard hundreds of sermons on every topic imaginable. I have two file cabinets crammed to the brim with notes from Christian conferences and Bible studies, in addition to the lessons I’ve created on my computer. I am a seminary graduate, and I have worked on almost six hundred Christian books during my career, in addition to the dozens of books I read on my own each year. And as if that weren’t enough, I’m married to a pastor! So you can imagine how much “God talk” goes on in our house on a regular basis.

Because I am so immersed in the things of God, I can convince myself, like my preschooler, that I’m “smart enough” already and don’t need to supplement my learning. Can’t I just live off the stuff I’ve already learned for a while?

Nope. Not if I want to continue to grow to be more like Christ.

Because just as my children need to take fish oil supplements every day to help their brains grow, I need to continue to feed on the Word of God to help my soul grow.

No matter how much the enemy may try to convince me otherwise, here’s the reality: when it comes to plumbing the depths of the Word of God, I’ve only skimmed the surface. There is so much more of God than I can even fathom. And He wants me to discover more of Him every day. Not just so I can be “smart,” but so I can be His.

I told you a few days ago that I’m trying to “take my spiritual vitamins,” if you will, by spending time with God in the evenings. Right now, I’m going through Beth Moore’s study of the book of Daniel, and I’m trying to make sure I’m not just gaining “head knowledge,” but that through this time of study and prayer, I’m allowing God to help me grow in grace, wisdom, and knowledge of Himself. I’m certainly not perfect, and yes, I’ve already missed a few days this year. But I’m trying.

How about you? What are you doing to grow to be more like Christ this year? Do you have a traditional “quiet time” every day, or does your time with God look a little different? How are you taking your “spiritual vitamins” these days? What has worked (or is working) for you? I’d love to hear your thoughts and ideas!

Feel free to post your ideas below or on my Facebook page. (And don't be shy about admitting that sometimes, like me, you struggle to find time to do what you really want to do. Remember, we’re all in this together!)

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