Instincts Are the Enemy

My mother-in-law’s tenacity is phenomenal. Her will to live has brought her back from the brink. She is still clinging to life in spite of a broken back, kidney failure, congestive heart failure, and a hemoglobin level half of what it should be. I don’t know about you, but I hope that I would be ready to pack it in, fold up the tent, and go see Jesus. Now, I don’t mean that Mrs. Godwin is not ready to go see Jesus. Frankly I think that with all the morphine and every other pain killer they have thrown at her, she is just simply living at her instinctual level rather than at her faith level. She even bit a nurse last night! That isn’t Mrs. Godwin.

This reminds me that I often live at my instinctual level rather than relying on faith, and I don’t have a broken back for an excuse. I preached from Mark’s lectionary text last Sunday, Mark 8:31ff, and used a Staples “Easy” button. Staples may say “That was easy” to our problems, but Jesus, however, says deny yourself and take up a cross. Unfortunately our basest selves are self-centered and cling to life to the end. If Mrs. Godwin were her unencumbered self, she would have already checked out of here. To be sure, however, I hope she bounces back to who she was both physically and spiritually. We don’t want her to die, but we don’t want her to live like a person she hasn’t been. This whole drama makes me stand amazed at a Jesus who had, in his dying moment, the spiritual strength to “commend his spirit” to God and just give up his ghost and die. I might have been kicking and screaming for life. Who wouldn’t? Maybe that’s my qiestion to answer for Lent. Which is more important: my instinctual desires or my spiritual ones?