Devotional ~ Thin Within Study Week 01

Blessed are those whose strength is in you,
who have set their hearts on pilgrimage.
As they pass through the Valley of Baca,
they make it a place of springs;
the autumn rains also cover it with pools.
They go from strength to strength,
till each appears before God in Zion.
Psalm 84:5-7

In what do you find strength?

Upon what is your heart set? For what do you long?

While the world promises us that joy and fulfillment are found in the perfect body, God’s Word promises us that we are blessed when we look to Him for our strength–when we set our hearts on moving forward in Him.

If we are honest, many of us may have been obsessed – pursuing thinness – that is the pilgrimage we have invested the most time, thought, prayer, and, perhaps, money in. I confess that I have struggled with this, too, even after “all this time!” It doesn’t help that air-brushed images of bodies-too-perfect-to-be-real issue accusations everywhere we turn. Even as some Christians equate “fellowship” with all-you-can-eat meals in the fellowship hall, other godly, bible-knowing friends or family consider our size reflective of our spiritual (im)maturity. How can we win? It seems defeating, doesn’t it?

We win when we look to the Lord and HIS strength!

The “Valley of Baca” mentioned in Psalm 84 above can also be translated “Valley of Tears” or “Valley of Weeping.” I love that this passage promises that God himself will change my tears into a place of verdant fertility. My very tears will be as springs, mixing with autumn rains to create life-giving pools. Yes, this is a place where even my heartache and weakness will be turned to strength, echoing Paul’s words in 2 Corinthians 12:9: that “My [God’s] grace is sufficient for you, for my power is made perfect in weakness.” Therefore I will boast all the more gladly about my weaknesses, so that Christ’s power may rest on me.

And also Isaiah 43:18, 19:

“Forget the former things;
do not dwell on the past.
See, I am doing a new thing!
Now it springs up; do you not perceive it?
I am making a way in the desert
and streams in the wasteland.

God takes the streams that have been our tears, the very heartache that we have experienced and the source of all of the pain – whether it is recent like feeling shame about eating too much an hour ago or the pain of our childhood if we were obese and made fun of and left out – ALL of it. He takes it all and transforms it, redeems it all … and these streams of tears water the dry ground of our hearts—a NEW THING! Oh, I praise Him!

Consider this as we launch our study of the Thin Within book (as my friend, Julie, has reminded me):

We can’t *hate* ourselves into change.

And, as someone else has said:

When the pain of staying the same 
is greater than the pain caused by change, 
we will choose to change.

Have you gotten to the place where staying the same hurts more than change? Are you ready to choose change? Even if when it is painful?

I won’t lie to you or sugar-coat things: The road ahead will not be easy. It is simple in many ways, but NOT easy. In fact, if it seems easy, be careful…it could be the *lasting* work hasn’t really begun.

Ask the Lord to show you: What is your heart set on now?

I want to challenge each of us to let go of the “THINNESS” goal. Even “Good Health” as a goal seems righteous and noble, but many of us choose to call the same old idol of thinness by this other name – “good health” — so we can feel justified with what really boils down to the same pursuit. Jesus told us in Matthew 6 to seek first His kingdom and His righteousness, then things like food, clothes, and the like will fall into place.

What if you, what if I, this time, were to pursue a stout heart, filled to overflowing with all that God can offer us? What if we were to feast on the Lord and his bounty? What if we acted like He is the most profound, most complete, most satisfying, most wonderful goal we could pursue?

What if, instead of beginning this pilgrimage as a walk of woe-is-me deprivation, we were, instead, to think of it totally differently…as an opportunity to indulge freely, fully, completely in the bounty supplied by our gracious heavenly Father?

Sure, we may want to lose weight, but most of us know how to do that and some of us have lost hundreds of pounds over the years.

But our hearts weren’t completely healed.

What we want to do *this* time is get to the heart of the matter. We want to satisfy the longing, urge, emptiness, or need that has kept us turning to food even while our hearts have ached at the challenges we face by doing so. Some of us even have health issues related to our body size. Yet we can’t figure out why we don’t just *stop* eating so much.

We are on a pilgrimage. Not a pilgrimage to be thin, but a pilgrimage to be Hismore given away to God, more dedicated to His purposes, more able to experience all He has in mind for us. That is the true pilgrimage we are on. As we pursue Him, other goals will be realized in His way and in His time—or changed completely, if need be. Given the depths of our struggle with food and our body images, we need the Lord God to be our strength. Sisters, we are blessed when we are at the end of ourselves and God alone is our strength! This journey we are on will show us that in vivid detail.

Lord, please help each one of us to know you in a new, deeper, more complete way. I pray that we might find you totally satisfying and not ever be tempted to turn to anything else. Lord, may this be a pilgrimage, a quest, to know you more, rather than to become thin. No matter what others around us say, no matter, even, what the Thin Within book may say, I pray that we would wrap our hearts and minds around you as our only goal, our very great reward. Please do a totally new thing in us. I trust, Lord, that as we feast on you, as we allow our hearts to become “stouter,” you will do your work in your time on our physical bodies. May we trust you and the timing you choose. Help us not to miss what you want most. Lord, we may want to be thin, but you want us to be yours. May we be given away more completely to you today. In the precious Name of Jesus, Amen.

How have you pursued thinness previously? Are you ready to forget the former things, such as dieting or weight-loss successes and “failures?” God is doing a new thing right now. What can you do today to pursue a “stout heart?”