Each morning I kick-start my day with a hot cup of coffee. My roommate makes a fresh pot first thing, and we stumble around the house in silence, cups in hand and smiles on our faces as the caffeine begins to do its work.
However, last week both of us noticed a need for an extra cup or two to get us out the door. We felt sluggish, headaches plagued us and work felt consuming. Simple things took extra energy. Baffled, we blamed the change on seasonal allergies, a crazy week at work and a need for vacation.
Then, one evening, my roommate took a closer look at the fresh bag of coffee in our cabinet. The explanation to our problem was spelled out in tiny letters on that bag: Decaf.
We laughed about the mix-up. But the next morning we headed out the door with an extra spring in our step and a fresh outlook on the day. Thank you, caffeine.
There are many days when I live on spiritual decaf: Not relying on the changing power of the Holy Spirit’s work in my life, but trying hard to do spiritual things to get me through that day. Too often I walk through my week mustering up the extra effort to “be” Christian – trying hard to obey all the rules, yet missing the umph that only God’s Spirit can bring as I surrender to Him.
I ignore the signs of self-reliance and am surprised as life, ministry and relationships become more complicated. So I problem-solve, explaining my self-dependence away with excuses: Maybe if I work through lunch I’ll get caught up. If I just give that person space for a while, the tension will blow over.
But spiritual power is not available apart from God’s Spirit. Eventually, I break, realizing that I cannot live the Christian life on my own. I must be filled with the power that only God’s Spirit can bring.
Why do I settle for a substitute when the real power comes only from the original? I need Him every day, and in every situation. Even from the short walk from my bedroom to the kitchen where my morning cup of regular joe awaits me.
As the mother of small children, I nursed a familiar feeling of dread each morning. I found time early in the morning to be alone with God. Somehow, my discipline became an exercise in making myself worthy of entering God’s presence. One day, God interrupted my efforts.
Morbid as it may seem, autumn really is about death. And God repeats this pattern in you and me.
Why doubt is not necessarily a road-block to deep faith.
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