There's a famous book on "100 Books to Read Before Death" that you've probably never heard of: Whittaker Chambers' "Witness". (Not the Harrison Ford movie.)
Chambers was one of those quiet people who see quite clearly, before most people do, that Western civilization is headed for a rough downhill slide. He joined the underground Communist movement in the 1930's, when people thought it was cool - long before Ronald Reagan helped expose the "agrarian reformers" for what they are. A serious atheist, he got shaken by God and repented - became a Quaker. He spent 10 years as a Time editor, then sorrowfully informed on his former comrades. This quote of his always gets me:
"No one knows so well as the ex-Communist the character of the conflict, and of the enemy, or shares so deeply the same power of faith and willingness to stake his life on his beliefs. For no other has seen so deeply into the total nature of the evil with which Communism threatens mankind. Counterrevolution and conservatism have little in common. In the struggle against Communism the conservative is all but helpless. For that struggle cannot be fought, much less won, or even understood, except in terms of total sacrifice. And the conservative is suspicious of sacrifice; he wishes first to conserve, above all what he is and what he has. You cannot fight against revolutions so."
There's a funny truth about change - no matter what you tell yourself, you know when you're all in and when you're still just playing around. (For more clarification on "not playing games", listen to an Andrew Quigley sermon.) You know it's death when you try to compromise: "Well, I'll just listen to the snake for a little bit." Whether it's applying yourself to work or to really shaving off pounds on that diet you've always meant to do, it takes time and frustration and some suffering. Sometimes, a lot of suffering. And nobody wants to hear that.
Diets are horrible. You don't get to eat what you want. You have to go trudge around a hill or a track or get on that exercise bike, whether you feel like it or not - because if you don't, those unwanted pounds hurl themselves at you and latch on. Every once in a while, it's really enjoyable - when you hit a goal, when you fit into those pants, the joy of having a friend say "you've lost some weight! You look good!" SCORE!!! you think. "Every day should be like this!" That's not reality.
Communism got popular, and still is, because people want to refuse to see sin for the horrible, degrading, grimy fact that Adam and Eve landed us in centuries ago. We'd all LIKE to believe that our fellow man is really good inside. We'd LIKE to believe that our neighbors will not lie, cheat, steal, or inform on us - or vice versa - and that we will always be true to our ideals. Weight is the same. A little fudge here, a little lack of exercise there, a donut or three in the mornings - "so shall thy calories come on thee like a robber, and thy want like an armed man".
Okay, so the battle against pounds is not that grim, and there is joy along the way! But it is true that if you "faint in the day of adversity, your strength is small". (Proverbs 24) God is Lord of many small beginnings, it's true - trodging is a learned art. When battling anything - even as earthly as the body - it's good to pray for help at the point of the fridge or the prison gate. But wishing to win and also to conserve comfort is a laughable lie.
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