Too Much Pecan Pie
But I do not account my life of any value nor as precious to myself, if only I may finish my course and the ministry that I received from the Lord Jesus . . . Acts 20:24
Because we weren’t all home on Thanksgiving, we had our Thanksgiving meal yesterday with our immediate family and Grandma. As usual, I ate a lot. On most Thanksgivings, I can pass on the desert because I don’t really like pumpkin pie. Yesterday though, Grandma brought pecan pie, which is really hard to say no to. I had a half a slice. Then later, I had a whole slice. It’s not Grandma’s fault, but when I stepped on the scale this morning, I lamented yesterday’s choices.
I seem to have two wills. I have that which I want right now – which always provides some immediate gratification, albeit with some painful price to pay later. And, I have my long-term will – that which I want overall for my life. For instance, with food, I want pie now. Overall though, I don’t want the effects of pie. I want to be in better shape. The two wills are in opposition to each other. I can’t follow both.
This isn’t just about pie of course. This is my life. I’ve followed my now-appetite so many times that it’s just a natural way of living. That it’s led me to disaster hasn’t stopped me from doing it. Even now, in recovery from my drug addiction, my desire for immediate gratification still plagues me.
Paul understood and addressed this battle of wills in today’s passage. In the story, he explained why he must go back to Jerusalem, a place he knew would be hostile. He said that he didn’t value his own life or comfort. His overall life-goal was to be obedient to God. Paul did struggle with his own will (see Romans 7:15), though when it came to his daily decision-making process, he consciously chose to follow God’s plan instead of his own.
The hard thing of course, is that abandoning my now-appetite requires sacrifice. Following God’s will instead of my own is counterintuitive, unnatural, and uncomfortable. Again, this isn’t just about pie, but the metaphor holds. If I want to be able to step on the scale of life tomorrow and be joyful about my choices, then I must consciously make the right decision today to abandon my self-destructive desires – even when I don’t feel like it – following what I know to be right.