The Alaskan bull moose is a massive mammal that can grow to be almost seven feet tall at the shoulder, weigh up to 1,400 pounds, and have antlers that reach an average span of almost six feet. In the fall and winter months of the year the bull moose go head to head in mortal combat to assert their dominance, and the bull moose that has the strongest and heaviest antlers and enjoys the greatest physical strength wins the battle.
Interestingly, scientists suggest that the outcome of the conflict between these giant beasts is not determined in the heat of the battle. Rather, many months before, in the spring of the year, when the moose are in the quiet meadows and shaded hillsides, the kinds of nutrients they find and eat in solitude determine how strong their antlers will be and how much body weight they will build up for later in the year. If they fail to find adequate nutrients in the vegetation of the fields and forests in the quiet spring months, then they are weak and malnourished when they go to battle.
Perhaps you have never considered that you had anything in common with an Alaskan bull moose, but just like the moose wins or loses based on what happens before the battle, so our victory or defeat in the battles of life are often won or lost before the conflict even begins. Whether you will stand in the face of temptation or endure through the storm of a trial will be determined by your inner spiritual strength. [Griend, Alvin J. and Edith Bajema. The Praying Church Sourcebook. Faith Alive Christian Resources, 1997, pp. 351-252.]
The Apostle Paul was concerned about the condition of the inner person of the Christians under his spiritual care. In Ephesians 3:16, he prayed for the believers in the church at Ephesus that God would grant them “according to the riches of his glory, to be strengthened with might by his Spirit in the inner man…” He wrote to the Corinthians to tell them that “though our outward man perish, yet the inward man is renewed day by day.”
Sadly, many people give more attention to the health of the outward self than to the inner self until, almost like having a body without a healthy skeleton, they may manage an outward appearance and reputation, while inwardly there is no real structure or substance. When the storm comes or temptation arises, if the inner self has not been properly cared for, then spiritual life implodes.
But this does not have to be! Paul’s prayer for the Ephesians suggests that there is a way for the inner being to be strengthened while the outer being faces the inevitable decay of life. Though your physical body may be growing old and wearing out, if you will give the Holy Spirit opportunities to work in you, your inner being can be renewed and strengthened day by day. While the outward man is inevitably headed downhill, through the power of God’s Holy Spirit the inward man can be gaining ground, getting stronger and wiser, moving from glory to glory.
Adam Clarke, in commenting on Paul’s prayer for the Ephesians wrote: “You have many enemies, cunning and strong; many trials, too great for your natural strength; many temptations, which no human power is able successfully to resist; many duties to perform, which cannot be accomplished by the strength of man; therefore you need Divine strength; you must have might; and you must be strengthened every where, and every way fortified by that might…By the sovereign energy of the Holy Ghost. This fountain of spiritual energy can alone supply the spiritual strength which is necessary for this spiritual work and conflict.”
There is a worldly philosophy that says “Find the hero inside yourself!” How silly! No one has what it takes to be a victorious Christian or to accomplish anything of eternal value apart from the enabling power of the Holy Spirit. In order for your inner man to be spiritually healthy, you must have His presence and fullness in your life!
The Holy Spirit is the one who gives strength and renewal to the inner being, but this strengthening does not happen without your cooperation. You must give the Holy Spirit opportunities to strengthen and refresh and renew your inner being.
In his classic message about those who find themselves in the wilderness of dry, spiritual living, Wesley spoke of the danger of failing to give the Holy Spirit these opportunities. “Perhaps no sin of omission more frequently occasions this than the neglect of private prayer; the want whereof cannot be supplied by any other ordinance whatever. Nothing can be more plain, than that the life of God in the soul does not continue, much less increase, unless we use all opportunities of communing with God, and pouring out our hearts before him. If therefore we are negligent of this, if we [allow] business, company, or any [activity] whatever, to prevent these secret exercises of the soul or…to make us hurry them over in a slight and careless manner, that life will surely decay. And…it will gradually die away.”
If you allow the busyness and the cares of life to keep you from nourishing your soul in the Word of God and in the place of prayer, then your inner being will suffer and ultimately die spiritually. Just like the Alaskan bull moose wins the battle based on the nutrients he received in the solitude of the quiet forests and valleys, your inner spiritual health will be maintained by the spiritual nutrients you receive in the solitude of private prayer and time spent in the Word of God every day.