People know me as a pretty disciplined person, which is true in many cases, but when it comes to food, I have zero discipline. I will take any excuse to indulge in things. Honestly, the only time I can truly have discipline with food is when it’s a spiritual fast. Otherwise, I can say I’m going to do something and bail almost instantly.
Lately, I’ve felt conviction about my ability to know exactly what I should be eating and completely ignoring it. It’s making me feel increasingly defiant to do the opposite of what I know to be true.
At the same time I started wrestling with these feelings, I had been struggling with so many little health issues and praying for them all to be healed. And in my head, I know asking God to wipe away our pain isn’t usually the answer. Sometimes it is, but more often than not, we’re to learn from the hard times (James 1:2-4). I actually had this exact same conversation with myself almost two years ago. But this time, I was reading Dick Eastman’s book Love on It’s Knees all about intercessory prayer and happened to be on the chapter about praying for the sick and afflicted. Here’s what caught my attention:
“God looks for healings that last rather than ‘band-aid solutions’ that may lead to worse conditions. God could heal high blood pressure caused by excessive weight in an instant, but He might choose to grant that healing only through the person’s discipline of losing thirty or forty pounds.”
This wasn’t a totally new concept to me but what struck me this time was imagining God healing all my little ailments and then grabbing an icee or a block of cheese on the ride home. It’s not totally unrealistic to think I’d do such a thing. I’ve had multiple ailments go away with not a second thought to how I treated my body.
What would be the purpose of the miracle? How glorifying is my response to return to the things that likely caused the ailments in the first place? This isn’t about making sure we earn our miracle. And really, we have no idea how many people Jesus healed in the Bible and went right back to business as usual. But miracles represented a transformation. The sea went from closed to open. The altar Elijah built went from damp to covered in fire. Jericho went from a city to rubble. The girl went from dead to alive. Miracles point to a God who transforms things. A God who brought us from death to life. I don’t want to return to death again (more on this in a minute).
I’ve longed for healing so much but would an instantaneous miracle of healing change my heart or would I have the same defiant spirit knowing what I should do and still refusing to do it.
This realization opened my eyes to something I had been missing: My prayer isn’t for a miracle of healing, but a miracle of heart change that leads to healing. Coincidentally enough, I picked my word for the year, REBUILD, because I wanted to create a solid foundation for change instead of quick wins that wouldn’t last. I literally made it a goal, not to lose 20 pounds, but to lay a foundation of a healthier mindset that would eventually help me lose the weight causing me pain. I wasn’t sure how to lay that foundation, but here we are.
The next day, I read Romans 6. I’ve been going very slowly through Romans, to the point where I feel like I’m falling behind, and this was a sweet reminder of God’s perfect timing.
This section is all about being alive in the Spirit and dead in the flesh. Here’s a snippet of what the Lord revealed as I’ve studied Romans 6-8:
6:6 We know that our old self was crucified with him in order that the body of sin might be brought to nothing, so that we would no longer be enslaved to sin.
Our old self was crucified so sin might lose its power. We are no longer slaves to sin. Remember this when it feels to big to say no to sin!
6:12 Let not sin therefore reign in your mortal body, to make you obey its passions. Do not present your members to sin as instruments for unrighteousness, but present yourselves to God as those who have been brought from death to life, and your members to God as instruments for righteousness.
6:15 What then? Are we to sin because we are not under law but under grace? By no means!
I feel like the same applies to miracles. When we get the grace of seeing God perform a miracle in our life, do we want to keep on sinning?
6:16 Do you not know that if you present yourselves to anyone as obedient slaves,[c] you are slaves of the one whom you obey, either of sin, which leads to death, or of obedience, which leads to righteousness?
We are slaves to whatever we obey.
21 But what fruit were you getting at that time from the things of which you are now ashamed? For the end of those things is death.
A reminder that living in the flesh does not satisfy like I think it will.
7:18 For I know that nothing good dwells in me, that is, in my flesh. For I have the desire to do what is right, but not the ability to carry it out.
How I feel too.
7:24-25 Wretched man that I am! Who will deliver me from this body of death? Thanks be to God through Jesus Christ our Lord! So then, I myself serve the law of God with my mind, but with my flesh I serve the law of sin.
My hope is in Jesus!
8:3-4 For God has done what the law, weakened by the flesh, could not do. By sending his own Son in the likeness of sinful flesh and for sin,[c] he condemned sin in the flesh, 4 in order that the righteous requirement of the law might be fulfilled in us, who walk not according to the flesh but according to the Spirit.
I loved what Eugene Peterson said about this verse “instead of redoubling our own efforts, simply embrace what the spirit is doing in us.” Not more striving.
8:6 For to set the mind on the flesh is death, but to set the mind on the Spirit is life and peace.
Peterson also said setting our mind on the flesh or spirit is essentially either obsessing over ourselves or paying attention to God. Could it be that all those commands “fix our eyes on Jesus” (Hebrews 12:1), “seek first His kingdom” (Matt. 6:33), “do not conform to the world” (Romans 12:2), play a role in my living in my new nature?
I want to live in the Spirit, not the flesh that results in death that I’ve literally been spared from. When I recognize how I am not walking in the abundance God has for me, I shrug off the victim mentality I tend to have with my discipline around food. I stop feeling like I’ll never change. I start walking in what the Spirit is doing instead of “redoubling my own efforts”.
So now I have a tough question for all of us:
Is my life ripe for a miracle?
Think about the miracle you are currently praying for. What would follow it?
Would it be business as usual? What would be the purpose of the miracle? Alleviate stress? Make you comfortable? Accomplish what God has already given you the power through His Holy Spirit to do?
Of course, God wants to do miracles that last. My efficient-loving mind immediately gets this. Of course, miracles aren’t for flash in the pan entertainment but to bring ultimate glory to God. It doesn’t mean He’s looking for perfect people or perfect circumstances, but it begs the question, what’s the purpose of a miracle?
I teared up after reading that impactful paragraph in Eastman’s because I felt like the Lord was telling me healing was coming but through discipline.
And perhaps for some, this feels like overkill for wanting to resist a brownie. Is overindulging in food really that bad? It’s something that’s created a rebellion in my heart and I feel the freedom as I take it seriously and reflect on it.
I’m excited and will be updating y’all as I go on this journey.
As I talked this topic over with my life coach, Diana, we talked about a few tips as I learn discipline with food, and here were some notes from our chat that I hope will be helpful:
- Recognize what might get in your way. For me, it’s the celebration thing–showers, get-togethers, anything with people. Even summer in general has a celebration feel that gives me just enough reason to indulge.
- Make healthier choices, but have JOY in making those healthier choices. Flip the way you view those choices so that you associate pleasure with eating healthy food and pain with eating crappy food.
- Pay attention to how good you feel when you make a great choice and even how icky you feel after negative choices, so the negative things start to lose their allure. 🙂 (NOT in a shaming way do you pay attention to feeling icky–more in an awareness way.)
I’d love to hear from you if you feel comfortable sharing! Did a miracle you’re praying for come to mind when I shared mine? What would you do after?