For I know the plans I have for you, declares the Lord, plans to prosper you and not to harm you, plans to give you hope and a future.
~ Jeremiah 29:11
I have an eleven year old son, a “tween.” He is stuck between wanting to act like a little kid (playing with his little sister and such) and feeling like a teenager, with all of the emotion and angst that comes with that stage of development. While the “tween” years begin somewhere around 9 or 10 years of age, I feel like my boy has been a tween for a much longer time! He has pushed for independence and freedom from us since he was a little guy. When all of his Kindergarten friends found joy in their moms helping in the classroom, he cried and begged me to not volunteer. He went on his first church retreat at 9 years of age without looking back. The following summer he went to sleep away camp without a tear or a letter home. And I have to prepare myself for lots of drama when I need to help him with schoolwork or study skills – he just doesn’t want my help. He is just a strong-minded and opinionated individual and wants to do things his way.
Last week, on the heels of schoolwork drama, I took him to a new class. My husband and I did not ask him if he wanted to participate, we just registered him. As his parents, we made the decision that he would participate in this cotillion (manners and such) class because we know that it will serve him well in his future. He was not happy about it at all! Without going into details, just know that he ended up enjoying it and having a great time with friends. But, in the heat of frustration at his resistant and rebellious attitude (with accepting help and with following our guidance), I found myself thinking the following:
“Why doesn’t he trust us? We are his parents and everything we do is for his good, even if he can’t see it from his short perspective. We have years of wisdom and experience behind our decisions. I wish that he would just relax and not worry about so many things and just enjoy what we provide for him.”
The next day, God revealed a big truth to me. I am often that resistant and rebellious child to God, my heavenly Father. The big difference is that while I am a loving parent, I am quite imperfect. God, however, is perfect and omniscient. He extends steadfast love to His children. He knit each of us together and He knows us. He is for us and holds our hands even as we stumble. If we trust Him and obey Him, we can avoid so much discomfort and confusion. What a gift! We can lay our worries burdens at the foot of the cross – even the seemingly simple decisions of what to eat, when to eat and how much to eat – and He will give us rest.
I knew that my son would enjoy his class because I had spoken to other parents whose children had enjoyed it in past years. And I know that the lessons that he learns will help him in his future days. I want to approach God as I wish my son would approach us (if only!) – eager for His guidance, willingness to stay in His boundaries, learning from the lessons He teaches, and trusting Him with all of my heart so that I obey Him without resistance and rebellion. I desire to absolutely surrender to Him.
Lord, help us to trust in You with all of our hearts and lean not on our own understanding. Help us to submit to You in all ways, knowing that You will make our paths straight.
It seems like I spend a lot of my life waiting on things to fall into place; waiting on that magic moment where I find perfection. Whether it’s in my job, my relationships, or in my actions, I feel like there should be a moment where things just “click” and start running smoothly. Or I used to think that way, anyway.
When I first started my Thin Within journey I fully expected to “someday” find that magic moment in eating 0-5. I hoped it would happen quickly, but figured it might take a while. I was ok with that, knowing it gave me something to work towards and look forward to.
I assumed as the weeks went on I would get better and better at eating within my boundaries, until eventually it would all fall into place and become natural. I would stop “messing up” and would get to my natural weight. I would no longer have a problem with food. Eating 0-5 would become second nature.
After weeks of two steps forward, one step back and experiencing victory only to turn around and find failure staring me in the face, I see things a little differently. I realize that it does get easier in some ways; I get better at it with practice, but it will always be a battle. Why? Because Satan hates me honoring God in my eating, he hates me finding victory, and he will never give up on the battle to win me over to fleshly living. If anything the battle will intensify.
It’s not really fun to think about those things. Nobody wants to suffer. But we have to count the cost. I have counted the cost and I realized that the suffering is worth it. It’s only my flesh suffering anyway, and when my flesh suffers my spirit soars! I’m finding that I’m actually thankful for the battle. I’m drawing near to God, and if this battle is what keeps me trusting in Him, it’s worth it. “For when I am weak, then I am strong.” 2 Corinthians 12:10b
I no longer desire that magic moment. In fact I hope it doesn’t come! That magic moment parades itself as victory, but is really pride. It’s the moment you think: “I’ve got this” and whether you realize it or not, at the same time your heart is saying “Thanks God, Your work here is done.” It’s the moment you stop clinging to God because you just can’t do it without Him.
On the one hand, it would be nice to not feel helpless. But at what cost? At the cost of abiding in Him? No thanks. This is just another of Satan’s tactics to win the battle. If He can get us to think we don’t need God, if he can fill our hearts with that lie, then we never find abundant living.
True victory is in the moments when I see God’s grace working in my life, the moments where I stay within 0-5, the moments where I choose God over food. Those moments don’t come because I’m strong enough or because I’ve got a handle on things. They come because of the strength God provides, because my eyes are fixed on Him. When we have those moments, recognize that they are because of Him, and praise Him for them, those are magic moments much better than moments with a false sense of security.
There are other magic moments too. When I have moments of failure I have to renew my mind with scriptures like Romans 8:1, remembering that there is “no condemnation for those who are in Christ Jesus” Also Titus 2:11-14, remembering God sees me as perfect and gives me His grace to live the Spirit-filled life. When those moments of failure become moments of observation and correction, when they become learning and growing experiences, those are also magic moments.
To live in faith (Hebrews 11:6) run the race (Hebrews 12:1-3) find transformation through the renewing of my mind (Romans 12:2) and press on to the end (Philippians 3:10-12) are more moments that are truly magical. All those things can only be done by the grace of God. His grace is truly miraculous, much more so than a wee little human thinking they can do things on their own. How thankful I am that God has taught me this BIG lesson (among many others) through Thin Within!
What about you?
Do you find yourself wishing for the magic moment where you no longer feel helpless, but feel like you’ve got your eating under control?
Why might that moment have a negative impact on your life?
What are some God-honoring magic moments you’ve experienced?
Would you rather suffer so your relationship with God can be protected? Is it worth it to you?
Kelsa Turner lives in the Great Smoky Mountains with her husband Luke and her black lab Roscoe. She enjoys the freedom of being self-employed to be able to work, serve, and spend time studying Thin Within and growing in her relationship with God. [Editor Note: Kelsa has agreed to teach an online Thin Within class for us! Be sure to visit this page to see what classes we are offering.]
Congratulations, Rosa! You won our drawing for Barb Raveling’s book, I Deserve a Donut and Other Lies That Make You Eat! WOOT! I have sent you an email to get your mailing address. YAY!
We will be having another drawing this week. If you post AT ALL on the blog this week, your name can go in the “hat” for the drawing for another book of Barb’s. Either Taste for Truth or I Deserve a Donut and Other Lies that Make You Eat.
Starting tomorrow. 🙂
It helps if you let me know you want to be included in the drawing when you post. 🙂
God often uses my animals to teach me lessons about how he relates to me. I have joked for some time that the reason I have had so many animals (chinchillas, dogs, one cat, horses) is because I need so many living illustrations to learn what most people might absorb just from reading a bible verse or two! Slow on the uptake. That’s me. 🙂
I moved away from home when I was 19, some 33 years ago now. I wasted no time in getting the BIG dogs of my dreams. Never having had big dogs and always wanting some :-), a Golden Retriever named Joshua and a German Shepherd named Morgan became my roommates, constant companions, and parental replacements. (My parents replaced me with a Llasa Apso.)
Joshua’s nature was—of all things—to retrieve. 🙂 That is all there was to it. When he was eager to please, he seemed possessed by a force that drove him to do the unthinkable–ANYTHING to retrieve something for the human who was the object of his devotion—usually me. 🙂
If no ball or stick was readily found, dirty laundry, garbage, blankets pulled off the bed, small children, all were viable alternatives! He just HAD to bring something to show his version of doggie devotion and love. His demonstrations were far from “perfect” (and were quite irritating at times, to be honest), but as his “master,” I recognized the heart behind it. After cleaning up whatever mess he made on his way to retrieving whatever it was, I loved on him, knowing that it was his nature to retrieve. I felt compassion for him, and appreciated even his imperfect obedience.
I still remember when God showed me that He does likewise with me. My earnestness to please him, no matter how misguided or “imperfect,” brings a smile to his face. He, too, cleans up my messes and has compassion on my crude attempts to please him.
Recently, a friend of mine shared about an episode of “The Very Best of Dog Whisperer with Cesar Millan” she watched on Net Flix.
If you want to see the episode, check out Collection 1: Episode 7, Power of the Pack, about 32:35 minutes into the episode.
In it, Cesar says:
“Food to me is part of affection.”
I wonder if this accurately captures how God feels about feeding us, His children? Does he, perhaps, love us with food? Many of us love others with food, but I wonder if God’s expression of his love and concern is demonstrated in part by his perfect provision of food for us, his children.
“The food also we have to give to the pack when the mind is calm, submissive, which means they have to be in a very patient state of mind for them to receive this food.”
Oh! I wonder how long my God would have to wait to feed me if he waited as Cesar does…for my mind to be calm, submissive, and patient. I wonder sometimes, if that is why I don’t land on a “0” as soon as I wish I would. Maybe God, in his divine sovereignty, is waiting for my mind to be calm, submissive, and patient.
“At the same time, when I’m preparing the food, I’m happy doing it.”
Have you (or I) considered that God is happy providing the next meal that I will have the joy of eating when I am physically hungry? What a wonderful thought!
“So, I am sharing my love preparing the food for my boys, who work already with me and I now am going to satisfy the appetite.”
If a fallible human man is moved to show love for his pets by satisfying their hunger, then I know that my God has an even better, more tender, more perfect heart of love for me—one that intends to satisfy my appetites—in the very way they need satisfying.
The next scene in this episode, challenged me a bit. Cesar had his hands in the canned dog food and was squishing it together with the dry kibble. (Can I just say “ewwwww….”???) As he was doing this, he said:
“I like to use my hand—just because I feel more close to them. You know, my scent is delivered in the food, so they get to smell me in the meal too…”
How tender a love this is! What does our God do just to feel more close to us, his children? I wonder if our God wants each meal to be an opportunity for us to experience His “scent” delivered to us as well…that we might “smell” him in His provision. Cesar is willing to have his hands made a mess of in order to do this. I love the reason he gives for this…
“I want to be very intimate with them. And I want to be part of every single thing that they do. I really want to be everything they have… “
Does God say this about us to the host of heaven? That he wants to be very intimate with us? That he wants to be part of every single thing that we do? That he wants to be everything we have? The psalmist seems to think so as he responds to God’s overtures with the following:
Nevertheless, I am continually with you; you hold my right hand. You guide me with your counsel, and afterward you will receive me to glory. Whom have I in heaven but you? And there is nothing on earth that I desire besides you. My flesh and my heart may fail, but God is the strength of my heart and my portion forever. – Psalm 73:23-26 (ESV)
I think my God is a “Heidi Whisperer,” calming me, changing me, moving me from frenetic, undisciplined behavior, to being more calm, peaceful, settled in my own skin. I wish I wasn’t such a hard study. If Cesar can change a dog in just two weeks, well…oh yeah…I forgot. I am “slow on the uptake.” Verrrrrrry slow!
How About You?
Have you ever considered that God wants to use your struggle with food, hunger and satisfied signals, to be very intimate with you? How does it strike you to consider that he may want you to think of him as everything you have? Do you allow him to “deliver His scent” to you in the food He provides in the perfect time?
Photo credit: Sura Nualpradid via http://www.freedigitalphotos.net/
“Therefore, since we are surrounded by such a great cloud of witnesses, let us throw off everything that hinders and the sin that so easily entangles. And let us run with perseverance the race marked out for us,fixing our eyes on Jesus…” ~ Hebrews 12:1-2
I’ve never been much of a runner. I tried to train for a 5k once and I eventually was able to run up to 3 miles, but I hated every single minute of it. Running was hard, my heart was rarely into it and I always found a way to talk myself out of training. So it fills my heart with joy that this verse in Hebrews isn’t talking about us literally running a physical race (praise God!). Our race is spiritual. But running a spiritual race is no less difficult than running a physical race!
The author of Hebrews tells us that there are things that hinder and entangle us in our race. Those things can look like: sin, disobedience, entitlement, pride, self-pity, fear, doubt, condemnation, lies, gluttony, distraction, complacency, negative self-talk, rebellion- none of these things are from God and they all hinder our forward momentum in our race. And we are called to throw them off. We are called to cast off those things that hold us back, weigh us down, hinder our progress and cause us to stumble in our race. The author of Hebrews doesn’t tell us to accept them, live with them, hold onto them, excuse them or wallow in them! Throw that junk away! Toss it aside! Banish it from your life! Shake it off! Get rid of it!
Can you imagine how quickly a runner would quit a race if he had dozens of heavy bags of garbage hanging around his neck? I doubt he would go 100 yards before collapsing and calling it quits! The same is true for us in our Thin Within journey. It’s going to be pretty tough to maintain our forward progress if we are weighed down by false beliefs, lies from the enemy (“you’re no good at this, just quit, you’ll always be overweight, this is too hard, you’re a failure”), rebellious attitudes or sin. Imagine how much easier the race is without being weighed down with all that stuff!
So how in the world do we throw off the things that hinder and entangle us, so that we can run our race? Luckily for us, the very next verse has our answer: “let us run with perseverance…fixing our eyes on Jesus.” Jesus has the power to speak truth over us. Jesus can set us free from the lies. Jesus can strengthen us in our weakness. Jesus forgives our sin, washing us clean. Jesus can change our hearts, our minds, our attitudes and our actions. Jesus can pick us off the ground, remove the bags of garbage that are hanging around our necks and set us back on our path. Jesus can set us free to run our race! Jesus can do all of this. We need only ask. We need only fix our eyes on Him.
Our race is serious business. So let’s get serious about casting off all the things that hinder us. Let’s get serious about praying consistently against all the junk that holds us back and keeps us on the sidelines. Let’s get serious about coming to Jesus and asking for healing, deliverance, hope and restoration. Let’s get serious about fighting all the lies we have believed by daily renewing our minds and speaking God’s truth over ourselves. Let’s shake off everything that hinders us so that we might run our race with freedom and victory!
How about you? What things do you need to shake off? Can you identify anything that is slowing down your forward progress? Are you diligently praying against the things that hold you back? Are your eyes fixed on Jesus or are you distracted by all the things that try to hold you back? What steps do you need to take to get rid of the junk that is hindering your race?
The first time I heard Mandisa’s song Overcomer on the radio, I just smiled to the Lord knowing that, yes, I am an overcomer through Him. It wasn’t until months later that I watched the official Overcomer music video that the song spoke even more to my heart. No matter how many times you’ve heard this song, I want to encourage you to watch the video. I have a feeling it will pull on your heartstrings as it has mine.
There are many battles that are faced in this life, but God is right there wanting to strengthen us and to help us overcome. Nothing is too hard for Him! He is able! We are more than conquerors through Christ Jesus!
Behold, I am the Lord, the God of all flesh; is anything too difficult for Me? Jeremiah 32:27
Even as I finish typing out this post that I started a few days ago, I’m tired, I’m worn out, I’m weary. I’m tempted to eat and I’m not hungry. I just sat down and journaled through the emotional eating questions from the I Deserve a Donut app. It was so good to do that. I wrote out some scriptures that really spoke to me. I read through my God list. To be honest, I still feel like eating, but I know that food isn’t going to take care of the real issue. I am believing I will overcome this. I won’t give into the temptation to eat. God is my strength! Food isn’t my savior.
He gives strength to the weary and increases the power of the weak. Even youths grow tired and weary, and young men stumble and fall; but those who hope in the Lord will renew their strength. They will soar on wings like eagles; they will run and not grow weary, they will walk and not be faint. Isaiah 40:29-31
I AM an overcomer!
How about you?
What are you facing? Do you believe you are already an overcomer? Are you willing to stop in your tracks and renew your mind? Do you trust God to take care of what needs to be taken care of? Praise Him! Talk to Him! Journal! Read your God list. He is able!