To Battle We Go: Eating warrior food
By: Dr. Steve Kellner
Standing in the chow line in basic training many years ago, I watched as a couple of fellow trainees ahead of me reached for a dessert, some kind of pie or cake as I recall. Just as they were sliding the plates onto their trays, one of our drill sergeants swooped in out of nowhere and guided the plates back to the dessert display, commenting tersely, “That ain’t warrior food.”
It wasn’t the extra calories he objected to. We packed in a tremendous amount of food at every meal in basic training. The joke going around was that every meal was a “Last Supper,” as if we would never eat again. We had to eat so much because we were burning so many calories. The training day began at 4:30 a.m. and ended around 10 p.m., and during those hours we either marched or ran to and from every training activity. We ran many miles a day, to say nothing of the endless physical training that we did. I would guess that I easily burned 5,000 calories a day.
No, what our drill sergeant didn’t like was the lack of nutrition the desserts provided. We could eat as many calories in meat, bread and vegetables as we wanted, but he knew that nutritionally empty calories wouldn’t provide the strength and energy we needed to become soldiers, or “warriors,” as he put it.
Similarly, we Salvationists need to eat nourishing spiritual food in order to have the strength and energy to do the difficult work we are called to do. This begins, of course, with daily time in God’s Word, and the Bible helpfully makes the connection between temporal and spiritual food explicit. Job says that he “treasured the words of his (God’s) mouth more than my portion of food,” and Jeremiah says, “Your words were found, and I ate them, and your words became to me a joy and the delight of my heart.” Jesus himself quoted Deuteronomy, saying, “Man shall not live by bread alone, but by every word that comes from the mouth of the Father.”
And there are many other ways that we are spiritually nourished – meaningful corporate worship, fellowship with other believers, listening to Christian messages and music, reading Christian books and a host of other activities that build us up. We can even be spiritually nourished by things that are not overtly Christian, as Paul reminds us when he says, “Finally, brothers and sisters, whatever is true, whatever is noble, whatever is right, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is admirable – if anything is excellent or praiseworthy – think about such things.”
In the flood of experiences and activities that tempt us with daily, it can be difficult to sort out what is spiritually nutritious and what isn’t, and that’s where the Holy Spirit is so helpful. He helps us choose between what is truly nutritious and what are “empty calories,” as my drill sergeant did so many years ago, albeit in a much kinder and gentler way (By the way, the Holy Spirit can help with our physical health too, i.e., diet and exercise, which greatly affects our ability to minister effectively). So let’s commit to eating the kind of spiritual “warrior food” that will enable us to fight effectively in the war for souls.