I have come to believe that one of the most disheartening consequences of being overweight is that we subconsciously begin to put on a cloak of shame and wear it daily, particularly when out in front of others. The more we engage in the act of gluttony (eating excessively) the more fitted that cloak becomes, and the less our true selves are seen by those around us. It’s as if we’ve allowed an impostor into our life, giving him free reign to swindle us, and cause us to assume a false character or personality. In other words, we’ve let this impostor hide the real us. For that matter, this cloak includes a personal mental covering of the original design God had in mind when He saw fit to breathe our lives into existence. What a shame. No pun intended.
I’ve noticed over my 15 year struggle how many things I’ve stopped doing because I am no longer physically or mentally comfortable in doing so. I’ve been ashamed that I let myself go to the extent I have. In fact, on a bad day when I’ve made a mental agreement with the enemy, I don’t realize it, but I look at myself differently. In some ways, it has been debilitating. For anyone who struggles with this you know what I’m talking about. It’s no longer fun picking out clothes or getting dressed for the day, or swimming (even with your own family), and our comparison to others runs rampant. We dress more to hide ourselves than to reveal. Even the change of seasons can become less fun since wearing shorts is now dreaded and not looked forward to like it use to be.
Just recently I was sitting in church riddled with low self-esteem and comparison. Unfortunately, the enemy had launched several mental assaults on my heart that morning and I made agreements with him, instead of combating him with the truth of God’s word. So I sat, longing to be fit and lovely like the other women in our congregation. And yet I felt inferior, less than, like I didn’t belong. I wanted to go back home throw on my pajamas and crawl into my bed as quickly as I could. Needless to say, that Sunday was not a stellar day with regard to my eating and/or my food choices. And it was my own fault. I know better. I know the Truth!
Before I go further let me qualify the word “overweight” since it is different for everyone. For me, it is refusing to live within the boundaries God has set for me (zero to five eating), thus resulting in excess pounds, which causes me discomfort and a lack of peace. It is also carrying more than God designed my physical body to bear.
On a more encouraging note, the wonderful thing about a cloak is that, according to the Oxford Dictionary, it is “an over-garment, hanging loosely from shoulders”. It “conceals and disguises”. In other words, it can (and should) be removed. When Jesus Christ came to bring us the new covenant he gave us the opportunity to remove the cloak of shame and wear the garment of His grace every single moment of every single day of our lives.
Hebrews 10:16 says, “This is the new covenant I will make with my people on that day, says the Lord: I will put my laws in their hearts, and I will write them on their minds.”
This week I realized afresh just how important it is that I let God write his laws in my heart and on my mind. To live apart from this is to live in shame and defeat. It’s to live contrary to his original design of me.
Psalm 34:4 says, “I sought the Lord, and he answered me and delivered me from all my fears. Those who look to him are radiant, and their faces shall never be ashamed.”
It’s important that in this “in between” place that we continue to look to him, so that those around us see radiance and not shame. We no longer need to wear the cloak of our old man (shame). We are new in Christ and this means the garments we now wear are new and they are free of shame. Hallelujah!
What about you?Do you find yourself wearing a cloak of shame or of radiance? Are you dreading the upcoming change of seasons or are you looking forward to it? Have you put together some truth cards that God can use to “put his law in your heart” and “write them on your mind”? If not, let me encourage you to do so today. You’ll be glad you did.
It’s that time of year again, when many of us feel we have another chance to press the “restart” button on setting and meeting goals. Some might call them “resolutions.” Let’s take a moment and differentiate between the two. A goal is a destination, a point where the race ends. A resolution is an intention, make up in one’s mind, to decide firmly to accomplish something (according to the Oxford Dictionary). As we know from the life of the Apostle Paul a goal is biblical,
“Beloved, I do not consider that I have made it my own; but this one thing I do: forgetting what lies behind and straining forward to what lies ahead, I press on toward the goal for the prize of the heavenly call of God in Christ Jesus.”(Philippians 3:13-14)
A resolution brings with it a mustering up of power within us to accomplish something. Do you see the difference?
At Thin Within we encourage setting godly goals by using two fundamental tools:
1) The Keys to Conscious Eating (pp. 77-80 in Hunger Within) which are biblical principles for weight mastery that can help you become aware of your body’s true physiological hunger, have greater enjoyment in the food you eat, and recognize when your body is satisfied; and,
2) God-Honoring Choices (pp.112-113 in Hunger Within) remembering that we have the freedom to choose what we will eat or drink, but know that not every food or beverage is beneficial for us, nor do we want to be enslaved by anything.
In Thin Within Day 3 focuses on “adopting godly goals and vision.” We first determined our purpose, which is “I am created for God’s glory,” followed by, “I am chosen to become like His Son.” These are two fundamental stones we want to rest our godly goals upon. “God created us because He wants to infuse our lives with so much joy, love, grace, and compassion that people can’t help but to recognize Him in our countenance! The bible calls this, “glorifying God.”
When we are an advertisement for how wonderful God is, when we display what He is like to the world, when our lives sing of His majesty and wonder that is when we are glorifying Him. That is what we were designed for.” (Thin Within, Day 3) “God knew us and formed us in our mother’s womb according to Psalm 139. When he formed us, He chose us for the purpose that we might be more like His Son, Jesus. His was a life lived with purpose and meaning. Jesus’ character reflected all of the attributes of God.”
So this year as you set your godly goals keep in mind that they don’t have to be lofty or unattainable. In fact, that may be too much too soon. Perhaps you want to work on the top 3 Keys, or 2 God-Honoring Choices. Someone once told me that if you accomplish all your goals in a day you haven’t set your goals high enough. While I use to believe this was true, the older I’ve gotten the more I think I have come to believe that when we’re able to check all the boxes perhaps it’s because we were realistic when setting the goals. I’m still undecided on that one.
Remember four questions (taken from Dr. Charles Stanley on “Setting Godly Goals”) that need to be answered:
1) Why is this important to you, Lord?
2) Does this fit into your plan for my life?
3) Is this goal totally in line with God’s Word?
4) How might the accomplishment of this goal bring blessing to others?
Take some time this week to review The Keys to Conscious Eating and the God-Honoring Choices section of Hunger Within and ask the Lord to help you set your (His) goals for you this year, this month, this week, or just for today. He wants to collaborate with you on this. So let Him. Wherever He wants you to start is where you want to begin, since He knows you personally and knows that you can handle.
What about you? Are you needing to set some godly goals? Are you willing to collaborate with the Lord on His goals for you this coming season? Write them down and begin afresh as soon as you can. And rejoice in knowing that “His mercies are new every morning.” Happy New Year!
Last week my husband’s doctor called him back in to follow up on annual lab work he had run. Matt asked me to go with him. The doctor came in and said he was shocked that my husband had not yet had a heart attack and told him that he is just 11 points away from becoming diabetic. While we were thankful the report wasn’t of cancer, we were somewhat surprised to find out that my husband’s poor food choices had caught up with him. Why we were surprised I’m not quite sure.
So, for the past week I’ve been working on menu plans that incorporate more of what the doctor recommended, which is a Paleo-type plan. In doing this I’ve also been praying over my husband and asking the Lord to search my own heart (I’ve learned this is a good practice when anything out of our normal routine confronts us). In fact, Psalm 139:23-24 says, “Search me, O God, and know my heart; test me and know my anxious thoughts. Point out anything in me that offends you, and lead me along the path of everlasting life.” I wanted to see where I might have played a part in this medical report.
I felt the need to do this because for years I’ve worked on my own weight/health issues but have failed to encourage my husband to do the same. I have also neglected to help set him up for success. Instead, I have gently but not so effectively suggested that he eat healthier. When this was met with resistance I backed off and made white rice for him and brown/wild rice for me, bought sugar-packed ice cream for him and fat-free yogurt for me, let him add cheese to everything, etc.
And when going out for dinner I would choose grilled fish while he ordered the chicken fried steak. I simply didn’t want the conflict and because he is a grown man I knew he could make his own choices. What the Lord showed me as I’ve searched my heart is that He has appointed me the manager of my home (Proverbs 31: 12 says, “She brings him good, not harm, all the days of her life.” And, vs. 27 says, “She carefully watches everything in her household and suffers nothing from laziness.” As a home manager I do menu planning, grocery shopping, and execution of meals, even if only for the two of us (empty nesters). I am responsible to look well to the ways of my household, and this includes the way we eat and the provision of healthy choices.
One of the most beautiful truths found in Thin Within living is the discovery and realization of our whole body pleasers, which for me is found in healthy eating. The result of living that truth is that my annual lab results came back just two weeks ago and everything looks good. At almost 54 years old, that’s exactly the report you want to receive. That’s in large part to making healthy choices when eating 0-5. I want that to be the testimony of my husband and anyone else I choose to feed. That’s not to say that on occasion and down the road we can’t indulge in a small treat. What I’m saying is that it can no longer be the norm for us and I can no longer be the provider of poor indulgences. Because in the long run it’s killing my husband, and offending the Lord. And that is not the legacy I want surrounding my name, nor is it the abundant life Jesus came to give us (John 10:10 – “The thief’s purpose is to steal and kill and destroy. My purpose is to give them a rich and satisfying life.”)
As I write this we’re in the middle of our “new normal” and my husband is feeling better, losing some weight, and embracing good health. He’s also finding his 5 much easier, and we’re enjoying mealtimes together much more. Yes, it’s taking more effort to help plan better but it feels so good to know I’m doing my part to create an environment that says, “You are worth this to me!”
So I’ve stopped looking to my selfish self and my weight/health and am paying more attention to the man God’s given me. I own my responsibility in having helped cause him harm, and am determined to “bring him good, and not harm” all the days of our lives. If he wants or chooses to go off course it will be because he got in the car and drove to get something, not because I had it sitting in the pantry waiting for him. Thankfully, we’re so committed to turning this report around with the Lord’s help; I can’t imagine him doing such a thing! We’re in this together and so our chances of success are much greater. Hallelujah!
So what about you? Are you bringing good and not harm to those in your household, by the food choices you make and in the provision you offer those you love? Rejoice in knowing the plan Thin Within offers and the revelation it brings of what the “abundant life” really looks like.
“Your eyes look around the distant stars – taking in everything in galaxies so far – yet on one crowded planet, circling one certain sun – of the billions here I am only one – yet, you see me, you see me, see me … Your ears taking each day’s deafening roar – the screams, the machines, rockets, radios and more – word of each man and woman, prayers of each boy and girl – every cry and curse still somehow in this world – You hear me, You hear me, hear me … Before a word is on my tongue, You’ve seen it birth within my heart – You even understand my reasons for You search my deepest parts and – You know me, You know me, know me … That’s why Father God I stand amazed – for you know me so well – yet I’m lavished with Your grace You forgive all my sin – even call me Your child – I’m forever yours for I can’t deny – You love me! You see me! You hear me! You know me! You love me, You love me, You love me.” (Sandi Patty – You Love Me Lyrics)
Last night as our Thin Within group wrapped up 12 weeks of study together we listened to this wonderful Sandi Patty song and fleshed out the question found in Week #12 “Celebrating God’s Grace” of Workbook #3, where we’re asked, “In what way is the truth of who you are, based on God’s Word, reflected in how you view yourself and in how you are to live moment by moment?” What we found was that most women long to be individually remembered and acknowledged, not grouped together with others. We want God to take notice of us. “Not ‘you’ as in someone else, but you personally, with your quirks, habits, preferences, and vices.” We want to feel deep in our hearts that when He declared each one of us worth any price, including death on the cross, that it wasn’t just a corporate, world-wide calling but an individual one.
Psalm 139:13-19 says, “You know me inside and out, you know every bone in my body; You know exactly how I was made, bit by bit, how I was sculpted from nothing into something. Like an open book, you watched me grow from conception to birth; all the stages of my life were spread out before you, the days of my life all prepared before I’d even lived one day.”
It’s that kind of God we long to believe sees us, hears us, knows us, and loves us, as we live and exist day-in and day-out on our crowded planet.
The truth of who God is still holds firm today: He is truth, love, peace, never leaving, merciful, kind, faithful, generous, all-present, truthful, forgiving, life, all-knowing, gracious, all-powerful, safe, a present help, and wonderful. The truth of who I am in Him also still holds firm today: I am His child, His friend, completely forgiven and fully pleasing to Him, bought with a price, chosen by God, a member of God’s family, totally accepted by God, complete in Christ, free forever from condemnation, never separated from His love, His temple, a new creation, God’s original, deliberate design, able to do all things through Christ who gives me strength, hidden with Christ in God, a branch of the True Vine, chosen and appointed to bear fruit, and deeply loved by God.
And so today when you read your bible every time you see the word “you”, “us”, “them” in the context of God’s promises, feel free to personalize it with your own name (first, last and middle) … that’s what our God does. He speaks to me and to you in ways personal and unique. Today as you remind yourself of the truth of who God is and the truth of who you are in Him, remember that it was for you, personally and individually that He gave it all.
Zephaniah 3:17 says, “The LORD your God is with you, he is mighty to save. He will take great delight in you, he will quiet you with his love, He will rejoice over you with singing.”
What about you? In what way is the truth of who you are, based on God’s Word, reflected in how you view yourself and in how you are to live moment by moment? Do you take time daily to remind yourself of who He is and who you are in Him? Can you accept and embrace the revelation that you have been called by name, first, last and middle? Let Him quiet you with His love today, as He delights in you and rejoices over you with singing.
One of the sweetest things I’ve come to love about the Lord is how truly perfect his timing is to reveal something to us that up until now we’ve had no idea was impacting us to the degree it has. Thankfully, he doesn’t just throw it at us. When it comes to the matters of our heart, he is always tender.
Needless to say, for the past several weeks I’ve had a recurring thought that I’ve wondered about. This morning after a nice two-hour quiet time I sat down to do some stretches and watch a Christian program. As the girl shared some of her testimony about her mom I found tears streaming down my face. Her testimony wasn’t the same as mine. However, that “recurring thought” I’ve been having was triggered. Funny, I thought I’d dealt with my “mom-issues” long ago. In fact, I went up to Virginia and spent two weeks making amends with my mom before it was too late. Then after she passed, other issues resurfaced and so I dealt seriously with them. You see, I’m in the habit of dealing with my stuff. I’m in the habit because I don’t want to give the enemy another foothold in my life.
In my reading early this morning the following resonated with me, “If we’re Christians, then the Lord has delivered us out of slavery. Through Christ’s work on the cross, Jesus has removed our despair and darkness and put in its place victory, strength, and freedom. The old is gone. The new has come. We are a new creation (2 Cor 5:17). We need never return to Egypt. And yet … A life of slavery still beckons to us. We find that our old, harmful thoughts are hard to shake. Our former unhealthy habits are hard to break. Long-embedded patterns of shameful living continue to entangle us – day after day, month after month, even year after year. Some days we feel weighed down by those shackles. We long for the freedom to respond to God fully as the people He has created and redeemed us to be. But fear and heaviness and darkness surround us. We wonder where to turn. We need to recognize the reality of the spiritual realm. We need to step fully into God’s plan to heal our broken world. We need to move into life and healing, purity, liberty, holiness, and truth.” (Truly Free, by Robert Morris)
I’ve often joked over the course of my life how disappointed I am that I’ve never gotten to stay in a hospital. Since I’ve never had children, suffered an illness, or had need for surgery sometimes I felt I missed out. Oh, I don’t want to have any pain that would cause me to go the hospital … I just want a valid excuse to receive attention, you know flowers, cards, worry, friends coming to see me, etc. As crazy as this sounds, it traces back to my mom. And that’s the “recurring thought” I’ve had over recent months. Because my mom was mentally ill and had one perceived sickness after another, she demanded all the attention in our home. I became a caretaker/little parent at age six and while I was occasionally commended for my help, it wasn’t the same attention a child longs for from her parent. I wasn’t noticed for who I was but for what I did. And that’s where my performance issues stemmed from. Praise God we’ve dealt a death blow to that layer of my dysfunction! But now I realize that perhaps many of my weight struggles have been a very sick and misguided attempt for attention. If for no one but me, because I give myself constant attention … usually with disgust as how bad I’ve let myself get.
In the book I referred to earlier Morris goes onto say, “If we continually sin, particularly over and over in the same specific area, or if we willfully sin while consciously thumbing our noses at God, then that’s a big danger sign that something deeper is going on in our lives, something influenced by evil.”
All that to say, for me, these continued weight struggles go deeper than I first thought. It’s a matter of the heart not willpower. What I’m also learning is that as long as we live we have an enemy in hot pursuit of the good work God is doing in us, that work of freedom. That same enemy longs to hold us in captivity to the lies and misguided truths we’ve come to embrace as grownups.
What about you?“So today ask yourself: Where do these thoughts originate? We can be in bondage to habitual sin and not even be aware of it. When a recurring thought comes to you take time to dig deeper to see what’s really going on. Jesus sets us free! Realize freedom is offered to you by Jesus. He always cares for you. He always loves you. His arms are always open wide for you to come home.” (Robert Morris)
Over the years I’ve cultivated relationships with friends who were like drinking buddies, only they were “foodies” or food buddies. These were people I especially enjoyed being with over a meal because I could get away with my sin, even have it coddled, casting off all restraint, I could give license to my carnal nature. The scripture is clear when it says, “So you must live as God’s obedient children. Don’t slip back into your old ways of living to satisfy your own desires. You didn’t know any better then; you do now. (I Peter 1:14) However, over this past year I’ve come to realize that I do know better, and thus am held accountable to that truth. Who I spend my time with, and how I spend my time, matters … especially if the fellowship helps me slip back into my old ways of living to satisfy my own desires. And this truth does not vacillate between family and friends.
Almost, if not even worse, is that when we’re together I am rarely the standard-setter. I am a follower, a co-laborer in our sin. Truth be told, by choosing things that are not the most beneficial for me and sharing that may also cause my friend(s) to stumble. I guess I’d forgotten that it goes both ways. I realized how they caused me to stumble, yet forgot to consider if I was doing the same to them. “Or how can you say to your brother, ‘Let me take the speck out of your eye,’ and behold, the log is in your own eye? “You hypocrite, first take the log out of your own eye, and then you will see clearly to take the speck out of your brother’s eye.” (Matt 7:4-5)
Today I am making a point to offer a Thin Within group in my own home. We’re starting with a small group, though size doesn’t matter. I’m choosing to surround myself with like-minded women who are all about living a God-centered life. And I want to be that for them. Our meeting last night almost brought me to tears as we each shared from hearts of transparency. And then this morning I read the following posted on social media:
“The church should be the safest place on the earth where people can open up and share the deepest hurts and struggles in our lives. Where truth-telling and loving honesty isn’t seen as a lack of grace but as the faithful and life-giving wounds of friends. Where “I’ve been there” compassion flows like crystal clear water over a waterfall, baptizing the weary, sin-laded soul with hope. Where children hear their pastor and their parents say “Please forgive me” or “I’m not good at this” or “I need prayer” more than they perceive strength or pride or self-righteousness. Where small groups welcome the confession of weakness and sin, and people aren’t afraid to talk about lust, greed, jealousy or wondering if they married the wrong person. Oh, Jesus, as you advance Your kingdom by building Your church please make us a family where sins, sufferings and struggles can be shared without fear of uncharitable judgments or self-righteous rejection. Yet also make us a people who speak hard truths to one another and refuse to confuse grace with coddling sin. You are at work, Oh God. Keep working through the weak and sinful like me.”
Oh that beautifully resonates with my heart. I want to encourage anyone reading this blog today to prayerfully consider leading a small Thin Within group in your community. Just contact Heidi or Cathy for details on getting started. There are hungry (no pun intended) women longing for a small group to walk this journey with them. They are ones who don’t want to read it on a computer every day. They want to come in after a hard day’s work, grab a cup of coffee, their bible and workbook and have a place to sit among women who care. It doesn’t take fine leadership skills, or a beautiful home. It only takes a willing heart and open door.
What about you? Are you causing others to sin by choosing the permissible and not the beneficial? Do you long for fellowship with like-minded, God-centered women seeking to apply the Thin Within principles to their life? Please prayerfully consider finding a small group, or starting one. There few blessings that compare with being used by the Lord to bring others to the Truth.
As my small group was studying Workbook Three: “Rebuilding God’s Temple” the Lord opened my eyes to a truth I never realized.
The question posed was, “What might be the reason for some of your struggles with eating or in other areas of your life? On whom are you to rely in your weakness? What do you think might be God’s purpose for your struggle?”
Here is how I answered. “Because more often than not I live days, weeks, months, even years ahead of myself. It’s very hard for me to live in the moment. This makes me an excellent planner, able to anticipate things some would never think of. However, it also makes me very restless when I’m in that “in between” place. That’s when I usually eat. The purpose for my struggle, I believe is so God can show me how to rest in Him knowing He’s got whatever is coming next.”
It amazes me how much our childhood experiences can influence our adult behavior. When I was age 6 years old my dad woke me up to tell me he was taking my mom to the hospital and I needed to get up and get myself and my sister ready for school. That hospital visit was the beginning of many over the next 30 years. My mom would live in and out of mental hospitals and institutions while my father was involved in politics and away from home often. So, I became a little parent that day my dad woke me up. And, I’ve never stopped living in a place of preparedness for whatever is coming next.
Even though that day occurred 47 years ago I still find myself restless and bored when I’m not under a deadline. No surprise, I thrive under pressure. For the past six years God has had me living in a season of rest (we live in a small town where I can ride my bike to work, I’m paid generously to simply “be available” to my boss, I have a good three hours to myself between my husband leaving for work and me going to work). It’s a quiet and beautiful season to be living in. And yet, I’m still restless and bored and trying desperately to prepare for the next thing. I don’t want to be caught off guard. And so I nibble. I never use to be a nighttime eater. Now I find myself nibbling on popcorn or fruit or animal crackers after dinner. But thanks be the God who is showing me how this exemplifies what Romans 8:5 refers to as, “… those who live according to the flesh set their minds on the things of the flesh.” Each and every time I choose to eat outside the 0-5 boundaries I am turning my back on the power of the Holy Spirit who can change my wanter and my canner. In fact, depending on the Holy Spirit daily for emotional grace and empowerment is an essential element to heal and keep me healthy.
I’ll admit I have a long way to go in learning how to rest and be still when God places me in that “in-between” place, but I’m encouraged that He helped me recognize where that discontentment/ restlessness came from. The enemy would love for me to focus on the fact that it’s taken me 47 years to see it. BUT GOD wants me to focus on the fact that as I’ve prayed for the eyes of my heart to be open during this bible study, He’s heard my prayer and answered me. And He won’t stop there. Because God wants to use me, and has set me on the path that leads to being used by Him, I find myself encouraged. Rather than preparing for what’s next with a fear-based mentality, I can simply rest in knowing, “He’s got my back and my front.” As Psalm 139:1-5 says, “O Lord, you have examined my heart and know everything about me. You know when I sit down or stand up. You know my thoughts even when I’m far away. You see me when I travel and when I rest at home. You know everything I do. You know what I am going to say even before I say it, Lord. You go before me and follow me. You place your hand of blessing on my head.”
What about you? Are you sensing that God has you in that “in-between” place right now? If so, seek to find out what His purpose is for doing so. Is it hard for you to rest or be still? If so, ask Him where that came from and what He wants you to do with it. Remember, the Holy Spirit wants to energize us with God’s strength and power to help us walk in the resurrection power of Jesus Christ!
“But I discipline my body and bring it into subjection, lest, when I have preached to others, I myself should become disqualified.” (1 Corinthians 9:27)
In this passage Paul urges us to keep ourselves spiritually fit. He stresses the necessity of self-discipline and the danger of flaunting one’s liberties. The believer must practice self- denial and self-control. In Matthew Henry’s commentary he says, “The body must be made to serve the mind, not suffered to lord over it.”
This past Sunday morning I awoke at 3:30 a.m. with this passage front and center of my mind. It was one of those times the Lord impressed upon me to get up and get before him. And so I grabbed my coffee, bible and journal and headed to the living room where I sat for the next three hours as the Lord showed me the seriousness of my choice to waiver between obedience and disobedience where the sin of gluttony is concerned.
In Chapter 8 of Hunger Within we read of the “Holy Struggle” we are faced with. And we’re reminded that “this choice of putting off and putting on is one we will face daily throughout our life because we will always have areas where we are tempted.” Earlier in this chapter we read, “Our hunger within has at its core a demand that our needs be met. To those of us who struggle with food, eating, and weight, this hunger – even though it has no physical basis – insists that we be fed. When we acknowledge our hunger within, we often seek food to satisfy our unmet needs. This is the essence of addictive behavior – turning to the quick fix when our emotions are high, when the pain is throbbing.” So when God says, “Wait” or “Be patient, I am feeding you,” often our response is, “Well, great, but it’s not what I ordered.” We struggle against God’s request for patience because everything in us is clamoring, “No!” This hunger doesn’t feel good. It hurts and I want to feel better right now! Feed it!” The chapter goes on to state this sobering truth, “At the heart of our flesh patterns is the sin of idolatry. We think God is not good and will not give us the desires of our heart, so instead of cultivating our interior life with God, we look for life elsewhere by seeking external pleasures.”
For those of us who have been with Thin Within for any length of time, and/or have been given to spiritual growth over a long period of time there comes a point when we are simply called to put into practice what we’ve learned and stop subjecting our behavior to the mental lies we choose to embrace. It’s as if the Lord says, “Enough already! It’s time to practice what you preach more often than vacillating.” This is especially important if you want to share the Thin Within message with others, particularly by example. Paul deeply valued being qualified for service to the Lord and to those the Lord called him to impact. Therefore, the issue of self-discipline, self-denial, self-control, etc. was paramount within his personal constitution. It was not a matter of personal preference but obedience to the One who called him to serve, the One he loved more than anything or anyone else, including himself.
Folks, our lives are no different. We’re either committed to walking out obedience as best we know how, day-in and day-out, or we’re not. And there comes a point when the Lord has enough of letting us live our own way. And so he gives a strong warning, an opportunity to change course. That’s what I sensed he gave me Sunday morning. It’s a type of warning he’s given me before when I was walking defiant of his truth and his way. They are not warnings you forget, nor do you want to.
“For I know the plans I have for you, says the Lord. They are plans for good and not for evil, to give you a future and a hope. In those days when you pray, I will listen. You will find me when you seek me, if you look for me in earnest. Yes, says the Lord, I will be found by you, and I will end your slavery and restore your fortunes …”. (Jeremiah 29:11-13)
What about you? Is your body lording over your mind? Or is your body living in subjection to the truth? Do you vacillate on any given day, between whether or not you’ll choose to walk in obedience or disobedience? Do you believe God has a good plan for you? Choose Jesus today and embrace denying your “hunger within” as you submit yourself to the One who loves you and wants the very best for you. And trust that he will satisfy you.
As my new Thin Within class rapidly approaches I find myself struggling once again with the progress, or lack thereof, I’ve made thus far on my journey. I’m referring to my physical progress. I truly wanted the ladies to see the tremendousus loss of weight that has occurred before they joined me on this Thin Within journey. Unfortunately, they won’t. And that is something I have to accept. The enemy would love nothing more than to use this to discourage me and launch mental assaults that tell me I’m not qualified to lead others.
Isn’t it funny the expectations we set for ourselves when God calls us to do something for his Kingdom. We assume we will have “arrived” by the time he has us stand before others and introduce them to the journey toward freedom we’ve been walking, for example. What’s even more uncanny is the fact that people want to know they are accepted right where they are. For that matter, we want to know we’re accepted right where we are. In fact, some, those who may need this teaching most, might even feel intimated if they were to see that I was skinny. My point is not that God doesn’t want me at my God-given size. My point is that he can use me every step of the way, before, during and/or after. It’s up to him. However, we each have a “before place” in the testimony of our lives that God is writing. And we need others who are at different points on the path to help encourage us to stay the course.
Ecclesiastes 4:9-10 (The Advantages of Companionship) says, “Two people are better off than one, for they can help each other succeed. If one person falls, the other can reach out and help. But someone who falls alone is in real trouble. “ The bottom line is we need each other regardless of where we are currently standing on the path to freedom. And people need to know it’s okay. As long as we are moving in a forward direction, listening to the Lord, and obeying his commands, we cannot help but serve as an encouragement to others and them to us.
Recently, I reconnected with a childhood friend I’ve searched for over the past several years. As I was documenting some of the major things that have happened in my life since we last spoke, I simply had to marvel at all I’ve come through. Compared to many they wouldn’t be considered eventful or even painful necessarily, but for me they tenderized my heart and certainly could have been much worse had the Lord not stepped in and redirected my path. The reason I’ve searched for her so fervently these past several years is because I owed her an apology. An apology for blowing off her friendship so many times when she reached out to me. Unfortunately, it was in a season when I was a workaholic and paid little attention to relationships.
It’s funny the multitude of emotions that come at us each day and tempt us to eat outside the boundaries God’s set for us. And I’m no exception. As I’ve begun to reconnect with my friend I’ve begun to revisit that season in my life when I was terribly productive but lacked in deep friendships. It’s just this kind of mental and emotional process that can take us one direction or another … into the arms of Jesus … or into the kitchen. I have to recognize that each moment during this process that I’ve turned to Jesus and not to food I’ve made the kind of progress that matters. And it’s this kind of process that these women who are signed up for my class need to know about.
Once again as I sit to write this blog I’m overwhelmed at the kindness of the Lord. Not a day passes that I don’t rejoice at all he’s done to hold me steady and draw my heart toward his. I shudder to think what battle I might be fighting if it weren’t my weight. What about you? What are you walking through right now? Is it drawing you to Jesus or the refrigerator? Do you realize the kindness of the Lord in the testimony he’s writing with your life? Be encouraged at where you stand in the journey today. As Joyce Meyer says, “I’m not where I want to be, but thank God I’m not where I use to be.”