When my friend David Dendy recently started a diet, he reflected on his blog about the parallels between sticking to a healthy eating regimen and the life of Christian discipleship. Where can we find the inspiration to stay on the path, when the tangible, measurable results we seek are absent or slow to arrive?
I have had a few conversations as of late that have had one central theme… “David, I am tired of always doing the right thing. I don’t see what good it is doing. I always do the right thing. And look where it has gotten me. I want to venture out on my own and do my own thing that feels good and right to me.”
Not only can I sympathize, I can also empathize with my friends. I have been there many times myself and I will find myself in that same place somewhere further down the road. For all I know I might be saying the same thing tomorrow or next month or next year.
Continuing the “diet” theme let me say this… When I do my own thing, when I go out on my own, when I do that which feels good to me with no regard to others… guess what? I get all out of shape. I don’t look good and I don’t feel good and typically I don’t have the energy to be good for other people.
I have never forgotten this great quote from C.S. Lewis – “Discipline before emotion.” (Not that I have always followed that quote, it’s just that I have never forgotten it.)
There’s another favorite quote of mine from the Apostle Paul that has sustained me during those seasons of frustration…
“And let us not grow weary of doing good, for in due season we will reap, if we do not give up. So then, as we have opportunity, let us do good to everyone, and especially to those who are of the household of faith.” (Galatians 6. 9-10)
My dear friends… continue to do good!
I met David more than 30 years ago. We were neighbors in the men’s freshman dorm at Davidson College. In those days he was a long, lean whippet of a fellow, a smiling assassin at intramural basketball and Ultimate Frisbee. If David is fighting the battle of the bulge, that makes me feel better about my own issues with diet and exercise!
I don’t think David is familiar with the Clergy Health Initiative, but he has lived the life. His journey has taken him all around the country, through seminary, in and out of parish ministry, through successes and major church conflicts, to his current position as VP of Philanthropy at the University of Dubuque (IA), a Presbyterian-affiliated institution. He’s certainly had his share of stumbles, falls, and losses, in the years between sowing and reaping.
David has set as a discipline to start a blog and write a post a day for this calendar year. He has a hard-won wisdom and a gift for expressing how the mundane connects to the transcendent, and how today’s small seeds can lead to an abundant harvest. He is on Google+ and Facebook as well, if you’re interested in checking him out. In any case, take courage that you are not alone on this journey.
– John James
Photo: Andrew Fogg via Creative Commons