To Trogo or Not To Trogo

Enough! You have out waited me. I tried waiting patiently to see how many of you would be curious enough to ask the meaning of “trogo.” (“Trogo? Wasn’t he the Japanese warlord during WWII?”) But few have seemed interested. So today I cry “Uncle!” I guess I’ll just have to break down and explain the word.

I picked Trogo for several reasons. (By the way, the word has a hard “g”—like goose or Gandalf, not soft like giant or gerrymander.) Primarily the definition drew me—which we will get to in a moment. But I also like the sound of it. It sounds cavemanesque. You know, troglodytes and all that. Primal. Primitive. Also, it’s sorta rhythmic—like a chant. Imagine a slave-powered Roman galley. “Tro-go! Tro-go! Tro-go!” You can almost see those poor blighters heaving those massive oars to the beat of the drum. Plus, it sounds just a tad weird. Not Stephen King weird, just scratching your head and wondering weird.

The word trogo is Greek—a Greek verb, to be more specific. It means to chew, to gnaw, to eat, especially to eat slowly. In classical Greek it was used of a cow chewing its cud. (Moooooo! “Down, Bossie!”) The main purpose of the Trogo writings is, simply put, my own enjoyment. It is a creative release for me. However, I also do hope that at times I will give my readers something to think about, something to chew on. Hence, Trogo. (Two-Four-Six-Eight-What do we ruminate? Trogo! Trogo! Trogo!)

Yet, there is still another reason I chose this word—because of the way that Jesus Himself used it in the Gospels. This is especially true in the Gospel of John. Here the Master states:

“I am the living bread that came down from heaven. If anyone eats of this bread, he will live forever. This bread is my flesh, which I will give for the life of the world.” (John 6:51)

This is one of those verses, and contexts, that has many interpretations—a diversity of meanings. It is certainly an atonement passage. It also has Eucharistic overtones. It portrays to us the cost of salvation, as well as the desire of the Savior. But there is also something else…

The phrase “if anyone eats” intrigues me. For the word used here, in the original Koine Greek, is trogo. Let’s analyze this for a moment.

Why didn’t Jesus use a different word? There are several other Greek words meaning “to eat.” You would think that the Lord would use a word that connotes a one time eating, an act, an event of eating. This could carry the idea of commitment, a decision to “ingest” Jesus in our lives, to accept Him. But He did not do that. Instead, he used a word that literally means “to chew, to gnaw.” You get the idea of the process of eating—not an event, but a sequence of events.

From this I gather that the Lord is calling us to is a life lived in process. A progression. Life is to be a course, a journey…not a stop sign. Not even an intersection—although it begins that way. You see, inherent in that one word, trogo, is a picture of a believer in Jesus assimilating the Savior into his or her life, slowly, thoughtfully, over time, through a continuing process. Indeed, through a lifelong process.

Jim Elliot, that great missionary and martyr, knew this. He once said, “One does not surrender a life in an instant—that which is lifelong can only be surrendered in a lifetime.”

How important this concept is! How much we need to hear this truth! We are so impatient and hurried and rushed in our lives. Our attitudes cry out… “God, I want maturity—and I want it NOW!” If our behavior and our lifestyles reveal anything, then what we say in our hearts is far different from what we way with our lips. With our mouths we may say we want to serve God, but our hearts really say:

Lord, don’t teach me patience; it takes too long to master it.
Lord, don’t teach me how to love; it’s too time consuming, and hurtful.
Lord, don’t teach me kindness; it takes too much time to stop and care.
Lord, don’t teach me gentleness; I’d have to work too many hours at taming myself.
Lord, don’t teach me how to forgive; too much baggage to carry, it’ll only slow me down.
Lord, don’t teach me compassion; it’s too messy and too often dirty.

If we would be honest, brutally and bluntly honest, what we say to God is (maybe not in words, but in our attitudes and actions) …

“Lord, don’t make me like Jesus. I don’t have time for it!”

You see, it takes a long time—journeying through many valleys, pains, hurts, sorrows, much drudgery and hard labor to become like Jesus. Think not? (What planet are you living on?) Consider this then: It was the road Jesus Himself trod. “Though He were a Son, yet learned He obedience through the things He suffered” (Hebrews 5:8). This is what He did! Are the servants any better than their Master?

You see, this road, the Calvary road, the Golgotha path, is not an expressway. It is a road that we walk one step at a time, trek one foot at a time. There is no instant maturity while traveling this way. We learn the terrain one day at a time, one hurt at a time, one victory at a time. We feel our way, check out the map, follow those who have gone ahead, and tread in the footsteps of the Master.

Then little by little we find that we are slowly climbing higher, and growing stronger, and getting better at the traveling itself. For as we travel, we are developing character. But character comes gradually, if it is genuine. What is character? True character is nothing less than the image of our Lord formed in us.

So we must purpose, as did Christian in Pilgrim’s Progress, to journey to the Celestial City. And as we journey, we only grow, and we only receive sustenance for the trip, as we “eat the flesh of the Son of Man”—as we take Him into our lives. We chew on His words, and (I say this with utmost reverence) we “chew” on Him who is the Word. Little by little we assimilate the nature, the character, the very Person of the Son of Man into our lives, becoming ever more and ever more like Him. Thus, we go from “glory to glory” (2 Cor. 3:18).

Good journey, and safe home!

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