November 01, 2011

The Supplementing of the Spirit

Like newborn babies, crave pure spiritual milk, so that by it you may grow up in your salvation, now that you have tasted that the Lord is good.  1 Peter 2:2-3

I was clearing out one of my cupboards awhile ago.  Before I relegated some of these items to a storage closet, I decided to snap a picture to remind me of a few of the lessons I've learned this year.  Featured here are items I received from the lactation consultant who helped Zaden and me through our nursing trauma: a hand pump, bottles that went with the electric pump I borrowed, and the supplemental nursing system (SNS).  For those who aren't familiar with the SNS (I wasn't before all this happened), you place breastmilk or formula inside the bottle, making sure the tubes are clamped off until the proper time.  The bottle hangs around your neck, and the tubing gets taped to the breast you're nursing on.  When the baby is latched on, you release the clamp, allowing milk to flow through the tubing so Baby can receive nourishment from both the SNS and Mom.

The whole process was sometimes stressful, always cumbersome, but undoubtedly exactly what we needed.  Today Zaden is a champion nurser, and I have the honor of breastfeeding my sixth baby.

During our weeks with the SNS, I harbored a love-hate relationship with the contraption.  I loved that my baby was gaining weight and that I was able to put breastmilk into it so he could be receiving all the nutritional benefits of my milk.  I hated that it was such an ordeal to feed him.  I even felt (rather unreasonably) a bit of jealousy that he would only nurse when he was getting the additional sustenance from the SNS.  Every feeding was a reminder that on my own, I was unable to give my baby adequate nutrition.

Happily, that was all temporary.  But it produced a startlingly clear picture of what the Holy Spirit does for us!  An important spiritual truth was illustrated for me, as put forth in these verses:

I am the vine; you are the branches.  If a man remains in me, and I in him, he will bear much fruit.  Apart from me you can do nothing.  John 15:5

For the message of the cross is foolishness to those who are perishing, but to us who are being saved it is the power of God.  1 Cor. 1:18

The man without the Spirit does not accept the things that come from the Spirit of God, for they are foolishness to him, and he cannot understand them, because they are spiritually discerned.  1 Cor. 2:14

On my own, I am unable to comprehend God's Word and apply it to my life.  Were it not for the fact that God's Spirit resides in me--since I received His Spirit at the moment of salvation--this whole Christianity thing would seem foolish to me.  Without the guidance of the Holy Spirit, I could read my Bible, but I would not receive the nourishment needed to grow.  This reminds me of Jesus's parable about the sower:

A farmer went out to sow his seed. As he was scattering the seed, some fell along the path, and the birds came and ate it up. Some fell on rocky places, where it did not have much soil. It sprang up quickly, because the soil was shallow. But when the sun came up, the plants were scorched, and they withered because they had no root. Other seed fell among thorns, which grew up and choked the plants. Still other seed fell on good soil, where it produced a crop—a hundred, sixty or thirty times what was sown.  Matthew 13:3-8

Without allowing the Holy Spirit to fill me (Eph. 5:18), I will scorch and wither with no root; I will be choked by the thorns of this world.  In order for the seed inside me to be nourished and grow, I need that supplemental nursing system--I need the Holy Spirit to feed me spiritually!

If there is one thing I've learned from Ted's deployment...from being a mother...from any situation in which I feel I'm in completely over my's this:  I am utterly, totally inadequate to do ANYTHING good.  I am utterly, totally dependent on God to fill me, strengthen me, guide me, use me for His glory.

Today I am so thankful for the SNS and how it helped Zaden get to the point where he could nurse well.  I am thankful for what God taught me during those difficult days and nights, and--truthfully--what He is still teaching me about leaning on Him.  While I'm glad Zaden has outgrown the need for the SNS, I know I will never outgrow my need for Christ.  I need all the help I can get. :-)