Good Friday morning ...
I was raised on whole milk ... I mean real whole milk ... straight from the cow!
It was neither homogenized, pasteurized, fortified with vitamins, calcium-enriched, nor reduced in fat. It contained no additives, no preservatives, no taste enhancer. It was pure, unadulterated milk.
Every morning and every evening our Golden Guernsey dairy cow required milking ... and each cow we had through the years produced enough milk for our family of nine ... and sometime there was even enough to sell to neighbors. And not just milk ... but milk products like homemade butter, butter milk, clabber and cottage cheese.
Squatting on a three-legged stool (for a quick retreat, if necessary), it was usually my father who took care of the ten-to-fifteen minute chore morning and night ... alternately squeezing and pumping the four teats dangling from a full udder. The cow ... standing in the left stanchion of a two-cow barn ... would eat her morning or evening portion of grain while gladly relieving herself of a twelve-hour build-up of milk. The milk would be directed into a large aluminum milk pail ... and only occasionally into the open mouth of a begging barn cat. After milking, the pail would be carried to the kitchen where the milk was strained through a piece of cheese cloth (to eliminate any dirt, straw or other debris), poured into one gallon glass jars and inserted into the refrigerator. It was ready for consumption. Like I said ... I was raised on whole milk.
As the milk settled in the jar, cream would rise to the top. When removed and placed into a hand-cranked, wood ladled butter churn ... that cream would become butter and the residue, naturally, became "butter milk." When fresh milk with cream was allowed to set at room temperature overnight, the resulting mixture we knew as clabbler, would become a tasty homemade cottage cheese. And despite the occasional taste of wild onions or green apples (depending on what the cow grazed on that day) ... it was all very fresh, quite wholesome and healthy. At least that is what we were taught then!
At that time there was not a big push to guard against calorie intake ... nor was watching fat content of ingested food a part of every-day lifestyle. Who knew or cared that a glass of whole milk contained 150 calories and 8 grams of fat? So what? Who even thought about calcium intake, vitamin D enhancement or enriched food additives? Why we had white "Wonder Bread" back in those days which we were told would build strong bodies twelve ways! And we loved it!
It took me a while to change from whole milk to 2% milk, then to 1%, and finally to skim milk where we only consume 80 calories and 0 grams of fat per glass. Obviously, the switch is a good thing with what we now know about calorie and fat intake, cholesterol levels, blood pressure and bone density.
In life we grow to greater understanding as we mature and age ... as we read and learn ... as we share life experiences. Our inquisitive, curious minds like to discover new information. We enjoy the scientific research, the medical studies, the surveys and assessments that inform us how to take better care of our physical health. And because of it ... we have longer, healthier lives.
So, it should be also in the spiritual realm of life. We should be gaining spiritual knowledge, improving our spiritual understanding, better managing our spiritual walk as we mature and age as Christians. That is, however, sometimes not the case!
God's Word challenges us to grow in our faith. In fact, Paul teaches that spiritual gifts have been given to the church as that we "may be built up" ... so we can become "mature, attaining to the whole measure of the fullness of Christ." Then Paul says, "we will no longer be infants, tossed back and forth by the waves, and blown here and there by every wind of teaching and by the cunning and craftiness of men" [Ephesians 4:12-14].
As we have learned and gained insight into better nutritional health through our growing years ... so we as Christians should learn and gain insight into better spiritual health as well. We should become more mature and better understanding of spiritual truths as we walk by faith ... and thereby become less influenced by the whims of our society.
I was raised on whole milk ... both the natural kind and the spiritual kind ("Like newborn babies, crave pure spiritual milk ..." I Peter 2:2) I have come to know a lot more about milk and have learned to consume only the good stuff. But I have found it to be a life-long process of learning the good stuff from God's Word ... and a lot more challenging to put that research and that study into practical use. I am still learning and occasionally still resort back to the "milk" and not the "solid food" of which Paul speaks. Oh, that we would take as seriously our spiritual health!!!
May God bless you in your pursuit of His truths. May you grow in spiritual understanding ... becoming built up, strong and mature in your faith and not tossed or blown about by the wisdom of our times. As you work at improving your physical health through good eating habits, exercise and wise choices ... may you also work to improve that of your spirit through the study of God's Word, worship and meditation. And may God bless you in the process.