For the first time in my adult life, I am making a connection between my eating/exercise lifestyle to my spiritual health. It all started with A Confident Heart by Renee Swope. There were some hard questions in a section of that book! And I purchased Lose It For Life. There are some hard questions in that book too! Questions that asked about my hurts and pains of the past.
Before we go any further, I realize some folks struggle with a real medical issue that causes weight to come on as well. Do not feel this post is "one more put down about over weight people". First off, I AM OVERWEIGHT! I'm 110 pounds over healthy weight thank you very much!
Why am I over weight? How did I get here? I found out why. I never surrendered part of my heart to God. I THOUGHT I had!! I prayed to Him. I asked Him to heal those hurts, pains, betrayals, and such. However, I kept playing the victim over and over again. I'd lay my troubled heart on the alter and before getting up I'd snatch it back. I'd really like to blame my evil twin because I don't recall picking that junk back up. Just one problem, I don't have an evil twine ... I don't even have a twin! So, it's all me.
The first time I heard a connection between physical discipline being a part of spiritual discipline was in a web cast through Discipleship.org. I was listening to Mark A Maddix speak on Spiritual Formation. I heard it. I didn't get it. There was a seed planted there. A seed planted. I received the Email with the talk's power points. I read through them. Liked his tweaked version of the definitions of spiritual formation. It didn't sink in! Here it is ...
I did the Proverbs 31 "Yes to God" Online Bible Study. Then came "A Confident Heart". There was one section that really hit home and made me realize there were things in my heart that I hadn't surrendered to God. One day, I was walking around LifeWay Store. I wondered into the "dieting" section and this title jumped out at me "Lose It For Life". I took the book off the shelf. Went to the comfy chairs, sat down, and read the introduction. Know what? It affirmed what I was reading in "A Confident Heart"! So, I bought it. It too asked some tough questions. There is one whole page marked with all my hurts, pains, betrayals. God was like "Vivian, I want those. I want to redeem those."“Spiritual Formation is a process of being transformed into Christlikeness, through communal practices and participation in the “means of grace,” while giving attention to the care of self, which is demonstrated in loving others and being actively engaged in God’s redemption of all humans and creation.”Mark A. Maddix, 2011
Now, I'd like to say I laid them all down right then and there. Sometimes when something has been in our heart so long, it grows a huge tap root. These weren't things I could just surrender ... There were things I needed help surrendering!! I needed the Holy Spirit to take a grubbing hole, pick ax, and post hole digger to my heart! This junk had taken root! A deep root! This stuff is the stuff that set me on searching for comfort, love, escape. This stuff is the stuff that drove me to food. This is the stuff that the enemy has used for years to keep my trapped. As long as I was trapped by this stuff, I couldn't experience the fullness of God's presence. I needed help! Fortunately, I knew who to turn to. God hadn't left me to do this on my own. He wanted to dig that root out as much as I wanted help getting it removed! Once I saw that stuff still had a hold on me, I prayed! People, it don't got me NO MO! (Yes, I worded it just like that on purpose!)
However, I'm left with the habits. The habit of turning to food and not God. Which brings me to Made to Crave study through Proverbs 31 Online Study. I have to be retrained. I have to be reprogrammed. My weight is evidence of my struggle. I didn't put it on over night and it will not come off over night. It will require discipline! It will require self-control! Do you know what those two things are? Fruit of the Holy Spirit.
19 The acts of the flesh are obvious: sexual immorality, impurity and debauchery; 20 idolatry and witchcraft; hatred, discord, jealousy, fits of rage, selfish ambition, dissensions, factions 21 and envy; drunkenness, orgies, and the like. I warn you, as I did before, that those who live like this will not inherit the kingdom of God. 22 But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, forbearance, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, 23 gentleness and self-control. Against such things there is no law. 24 Those who belong to Christ Jesus have crucified the flesh with its passions and desires. 25 Since we live by the Spirit, let us keep in step with the Spirit. Galatians 5:19-25 (NIV)
22-23 But what happens when we live God’s way? He brings gifts into our lives, much the same way that fruit appears in an orchard—things like affection for others, exuberance about life, serenity. We develop a willingness to stick with things, a sense of compassion in the heart, and a conviction that a basic holiness permeates things and people. We find ourselves involved in loyal commitments, not needing to force our way in life, able to marshal and direct our energies wisely. Galatians 5:22-23 (MSG)
I know this is what God is wanting me to do. This week end, I received more affirmation! Folks, there IS a connection to our choices and our spiritual health/development. Don't give me a legalistic check list "Well, I don't drink or get drunk. I don't sleep around. I don't smoke. I go to church 3 times a week. I attend every Bible Study offered." The question is ... What is Jesus asking you to give up to follow Him? Consider this passage in Luke:
18 A certain ruler asked him, “Good teacher, what must I do to inherit eternal life?”
19 “Why do you call me good?” Jesus answered. “No one is good—except God alone. 20 You know the commandments: ‘You shall not commit adultery, you shall not murder, you shall not steal, you shall not give false testimony, honor your father and mother.’”
21 “All these I have kept since I was a boy,” he said.
22 When Jesus heard this, he said to him, “You still lack one thing. Sell everything you have and give to the poor, and you will have treasure in heaven. Then come, follow me.”
23 When he heard this, he became very sad, because he was very wealthy. 24 Jesus looked at him and said, “How hard it is for the rich to enter the kingdom of God! 25 Indeed, it is easier for a camel to go through the eye of a needle than for someone who is rich to enter the kingdom of God.” Luke 18:18-23 (NIV)
Do you see the list Jesus gave this fellow? "You know the commandments ...." The fellow must have been excited! "All these I have kept since I was a boy." But then Jesus busted his bubble. This fellow had something, longed for something, craved something more than he wanted "to inherit eternal life". The question is ... What is it Jesus is telling you to give up to have a closer walk with Him? What is it that Jesus sees in your life that you desire more than you desire Him? Those are questions only you can answer! Maybe it is shopping. When you have argued with your spouse, kids, or co-worker you feel the the need to have a shopping trip? Maybe it's television or movies. When you have had a stressful day, do you feel the need to escape into a good story line from your favorite TV series? When you are frustrated and find yourself wringing your hands, do you search the cabinet for something to eat? What do you turn to FIRST in time of trouble, sorrow, stress, anxiety, frustrations? Whatever that is ... that is probably what Jesus is telling you to give up. ANYTHING WE PUT FIRST BEFORE GOD, IS WHAT GOD IS GOING TO ASK FOR! If you by-pass God for shopping, for entertainment, for sex, for food, for scrapbooking, for beer, for cigarette, for church activities (yep, busy life at church sometimes is our drug of choice), etc; God wants. This is something only God and the individual can work on. It's different for each one of us. Mine happens to be food and entertainment. God wants them both!
I'm empowered by the Holy Spirit. Am I human? Yes. Will I slip up? Probably. I hate to say "no" and find myself wolfing down the donuts at church this AM! Temptation will be waiting for me as soon as I open those glass, double doors! I like what Chapter 8 in Made to Crave spoke about ... Delight in obedience. The Holy Spirit and I are going to take this one day at a time.
Which I'll leave you with this video ... "One Day At A Time"