I was lying in bed the other night, thinking about something I ate earlier. I had mixed up a batch of chocolate frosting and dropped in a couple teaspoons of peanut butter and just enjoyed myself all the way to the bottom of the bowl. The sad thing? I’ve done this many times before only without the peanut butter. So why was I thinking about it late into the night? Because God wanted me to.
You see, I love going to bed and talking to God and thinking about Him until I fall asleep. I’ll think about the day, what’s coming tomorrow, and this amazing and vivid image I have of Jesus waiting for me under a tree where we can sit and talk. One day, I think, I’ll be able to do that. But until then, I close my eyes and talk to Him when the house is dark and still. And that particular night, God reminded me of what I’d eaten and how drained I felt. He also reminded me how a car’s performance depends on maintenance and the proper fuel. I was listening.
I realized this body He has given me is really only temporary, but it’s still my responsibility to take care of it. What if God calls me to do something, to go and encourage someone, but I’m crashed out on the couch because my blood sugar plummeted? Or what if He calls me to Africa as a missionary and I need to trek miles on foot but I’ve consumed nothing but sugar and potato chips, so I have to turn down the offer because my body can’t take that sort of thing? (My Mom reminds me from time to time that we need to be ready when God calls us to do things.) I want to be ready.
I don’t want to miss God’s best for me because I’m not giving my best to the vessel He’s allowing me to borrow.
I have to exhale here. I don’t have just a sweet tooth but a mouth full of them and this is going to be hard. But when I cried out to God the other night, I asked Him to help me, to change the desire of my heart (and my taste buds), so I can be a better vessel for Him, for His Holy Spirit to work through. And when I woke up in the morning, something had changed. Did I jump out of bed and run to make a green smoothie? Not hardly. But I decided that I would begin. I would begin this journey of taking care of something I’ve had entrusted to me for over forty years that I usually leave at the bottom of my priority list. After this writing project is done, I’ll eat better. After the first of the year, I’ll exercise. After the Easter candy, I’ll stop eating chocolate. Those promises wear me out and depress me every time I fail.
So instead, I’m looking to God for help. I’m revisiting that image of Jesus under the tree and I want to see Him smiling as He tells me, “Well done, good and faithful servant!” (Matthew 25:23). I don’t want Him to shake His head at me and say, “If only you would have put down that bowl of frosting. I had so much more for you.”
I’m not on a diet. I’m not starting on a new health fad. I’m finally beginning to see the gift God has given me for what it is, and I’m going to take care of it. I’m going to smile and laugh when I turn down the frosting. And I’m going to reach for God’s hand when I stumble and slip back to an old habit and ask Him to help me begin again. But I will not be defeated. That old devil would love to keep me in a wrecked body that’s hyped up on sugar and empty calories, keeping me trapped in my own little prison cell of disliking the way I look and the way I feel. But he’s too late. God and I have already started out on this journey and that prison cell is already corroding in our shadows.
Now, on to better health and God’s purpose for my life.
And I’m praying the same for you. Let’s be healthy and strong together to build up His kingdom.
“Do you not know that your body is a temple of the Holy Spirit, who is in you, whom you have received from God? You are not your own; you were bought at a price. Therefore honor God with your body.” (1Corinthians 6:19-20 NIV.)