Categories
choices

What We Feed Grows. What We Starve Dies.

What are you growing in your life?

Yesterday I ran into an old story about the two wolves within us. Some people say it is a Native American parable. Others say it came from Billy Graham. I’m not really sure where it came from, but it’s a story that makes me think about how I’m living. It goes like this:

A grandfather told his grandson about a battle that goes on inside people. He said, “The battle is between the two wolves inside us all.

“One is evil. It is anger, envy, jealousy, sorrow, regret, greed, arrogance, self-pity, guilt, resentment, inferiority, lies, false pride, superiority, and ego.

“The other wolf is good. It is joy peace, love, hope, serenity, humility, kindness, benevolence, empathy, generosity, truth, compassion and faith.”

The grandson thought about it for a minute and then asked “Grandpa, which wolf wins?”

The grandfather replied, “The one you feed, child. The one you feed.”

The battle between the two wolves is a lot like the battle between our sinful nature and the nature of the Holy Spirit. Galatians 5:17 says, “The sinful nature wants to do evil, which is just the opposite of what the Spirit wants. And the Spirit gives us desires that are opposite of what the sinful nature desires. These two forces are constantly fighting each other…”

The sinful nature results in a harvest of evil—things such as lust, idolatry, quarrelling, jealousy, outbursts of anger, envy, drunkenness and other sins. The nature of the Holy Spirit brings a beautiful harvest of love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness and self-control.

We all would probably say we want the harvest brought by the nature of the Holy Spirit. But which one are we feeding?

What are we watching or listening to? What sort of thoughts fill our minds? We choose which “wolf” we feed by how we live our lives, how we guard our thoughts, how we spend our money, and how we spend our time.

Matthew 7:13 says, “Come to God through the narrow gate, because the wide gate and broad path is the way the leads to destruction—nearly everyone chooses that crowded road!” Permission to paraphrase? Yes? OK, good, here goes: It takes effort to feed the good wolf but it’s easy to feed the evil wolf. The evil wolf will eat anything, and most people give in to him. But his goal is our destruction.

What we feed grows. What we starve dies. Which wolf are we feeding?

Dear God, examine my life. Am I choosing to give in to my sinful nature? Or am I choosing to yield to the nature of the Holy Spirit? Show me ways how I can feed my spiritual nature and starve my sinful nature. In Jesus’s name, amen.

Categories
choices

It’s Never Been Like This Before

“Listen, all who live in the land. In all your history, has anything like this happened before?” (Joel 1:2)

In the book of Joel, a horrific, never-ending invasion of locusts devastated Judah. The locusts just kept coming and eating until all crops were destroyed, animals were starving, and people didn’t think they could take any more.

Have you ever felt the same way? Have you ever been devastated? Maybe not by locusts, but in a such a way that you knew nothing would be the same again?

What do we do when our world is turned upside down?

When Joel’s world was out of kilter, he turned to God. In times of devastation, we have a decision to make. We can wonder where God is in all the madness and turn away from him. Or we can double down on our relationship with God, cling to him with all our might, and seek his face in the midst of our circumstances.

Joel 3:14 intrigues me. It says, “Multitudes, multitudes in the valley of decision! For the day of the Lord is near in the valley of decision.”  This verse can be applied on many levels, but let’s talk about what it means in our day-to-day lives.

We are part of a great drama involving an epic battle. We have a deadly enemy who actively seeks our destruction, who wants to devour us like a lion chomps down a zebra. On the other side there is a Savior who wants to rescue us from the darkness and fill our lives with light. This battle rages around us constantly.

The most important question of our lives is, whose side are we on? We must choose sides. There is no Switzerland here, no neutral area. Who do we serve? In the words of Bob Dylan, “you gotta serve somebody.” If we think we are neutral, we’re deceived.

One day, God will judge us based on whom we serve. This is the fulcrum of our lives, the choice upon which everything else rests.

Y’all, the valley of decision isn’t the place where people make decisions. It’s the place where God decides and decrees our eternal fate based on whom we served. In the valley of decision, God’s enemies are judged, and his people rewarded.  

What does this mean in our everyday lives? It means when all is right with our world, we serve God. When we face devastation, we turn to God. In every circumstance and every situation, in good times and bad, our devotion lies with God. Our hope remains in God. Locusts ? We serve God. Viruses? Yes, we still serve God. When the world goes mad, our allegiance to God remains steadfast. And when we stand in the valley of decision, we’ll be eternally grateful to be on the Lord’s side.

Dear God, I choose you. I give you my whole heart and I want to serve you with everything I have. In good times or bad, I will serve you. I want to spend eternity in heaven, enjoying your presence forever. Fill me with your light and your love. In Jesus’s name, amen.