A few days ago I visited my cardiologist and was told — you’re FAT and LAZY! Wow! That really stung. But it was true and I needed to hear it for my own good.
To be totally honest, he didn’t use those exact words. After a few minutes of exchanging “how’s the fam?” conversation with my friend and physician, he advised me — in a very kind way — that I needed to lose a few pounds (at least 20 or 30) and get more exercise (he knows I used to swim two or three miles every week and was at the Y almost everyday burning calories in or out of the pool.)
Our discussion elicited an honest confession. For the past year (groan) and especially since retiring as hospital chaplain, my physical activity has declined as quickly as a runaway stagecoach in an old Western movie. In fact, my inactivity has been so great that I changed the name of my bathroom from John to Jim so I could honestly say that I visit the Jim first thing every morning.
As Dr. Beckner patiently reminded me of the benefits of weight loss and physical activity, benefits that I knew very well, I fidgeted in my chair and admitted to myself that, indeed, my extra pounds and sedentary lifestyle — being fat and lazy — were indeed harmful to my physical heart and my health in general.
Sometimes the truth hurts, but those who genuinely care about us will gently wound us with the truth when it is for our good. Proverbs 27: 5-6 tells us that it is better to be rebuked by a friend than offered pretentious love: “Faithful are the wounds of a friend ....” A real friend will tell us what we need to hear, even when it is not what we want to hear, if it is for our own good.
The book of Proverbs also tells us that it is wise to seek the advice of others and, weighing their advice, find what is the best for us in the eyes of the One who is all wise.
We live in a world where truth is very precious, in the sense of being rare. Our society is filled with lies and liars. When we listen to our leaders, leaders from both parties, it is difficult to discern the truth. Add to the mix the media, both mainstream and social media, with all the opinionated discussion, and it is practically impossible to find the truth.
Jesus said, “You shall know the truth and the truth will make you free.”
In a different context, Pilot asked Jesus, “What is truth?”
And in yet another setting Jesus said, “I am ... the TRUTH....”
Whether in matters of community, nation or the whole world, truth matters. In personal issues truth matters, too. Has the truth become too painful to be important? Our fat, lazy nation needs to change — spiritually — and it may hurt, but we must.
Coming together as the Church, through prayer, we must seek God’s direction, His Truth, His power to follow where He leads. Only then will we know the Truth that brings complete freedom.
Now, back to the personal example of hearing the truth about myself: tomorrow I have an appointment with my PCP (primary care physician) and guess what — I’m pretty sure he will offer reinforcement to my cardiologist’s assessment of the truth concerning — me. Yep, fat and lazy. I think I’d better go walk the dog now. What else can we do to improve the way things are?
Steve Playl — retired pastor and chaplain, columnist and college instructor — may be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.