Faith and Family

Jones: Spinach or ice cream?

By Lynn Jones

I have always been able to identify with the small boy whose parents insisted that he eat some spinach because it had a lot of vitamins in it. The boy asked, “Why are all the vitamins in spinach and not in ice cream where they belong?”

How do you begin to try to answer a question like that?  I’m not sure why life is like that, but it is true that spinach is packed with more of the kinds of nutrition that you need than ice cream is. Or, to put it another way, the tough experiences of life often bring more of what we really need than the easy experiences of life do.

Lynn Jones

I’ve always enjoyed Andre Crouch’s song, “Through It All.” In the song, he says: “I’ve had many tears and sorrows./I’ve had questions for tomorrow./There’ve been times I didn’t know right from wrong./But in every situation, God gave blessed consolation/That my trials come to only make me strong./Through it all, through it all,/I’ve learned to trust in Jesus./I’ve learned to trust in God./Through it all, through it all,/ I’ve learned to depend upon His Word.”

That’s often the way it is.  We learn a lot in such moments.  Experiences like that show us that we are not self-sufficient. We stand in need of God’s grace.

The great southern writer, Flannery O’Connor, at the age of 26 discovered that she had lupus, the disease that had killed her father. She was forced to move back home to her mother’s house in Milledgeville, Georgia, where her mother could take care of her. At first, she greeted the news of her disease as a spiritual and vocational death sentence. But she discovered that it was just the opposite. Her illness and limitations became the prism through which she looked at life and through which her best work took place. She experienced what she once called the “shock of grace.”  She wrote, “The force of habit and the weight of possessions close our lives up. You accept grace the quickest when you have the least.”

Paul had a similar learning experience. He had a thorn in the flesh about which he prayed and asked God to take it away. Instead of taking it away, God said, “My grace is sufficient for you, for my power is made perfect in weakness.” Paul responded, “Therefore I will boast all the more gladly about my weaknesses, so that Christ’s power may rest on me” (2 Cor. 12:9).

Given the choice of something to eat, most of us choose ice cream over spinach. But sometimes we have no choice. It is spinach or else. When such moments come, we can be comforted by the fact that spinach has a lot more of what we really need than does ice cream!

Lynn Jones is a retired pastor who lives in Oxford. He does supply preaching for churches in his area and often serves as an interim pastor. Jones is also an author, has written two books and writes a weekly newspaper column. He may be contacted at: .

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