And you will know the truth, and the truth will make you free. John 8:32

Monday, October 31, 2011

Are You Tired of the Struggle?

I’m just so sick of the struggle. I feel like I’ve been fighting this battle my whole life and I’ll never get over it.

Those are the words of a dear woman in one of my Bible studies last week. She had been renewing her mind for about six months, had already experienced quite a bit of victory, and then slipped back into defeat for a few days.

She was frustrated and discouraged.

Can you relate to her? I remember feeling that way for more than twenty years, on and off, including the early days of renewing my mind about eating.

If this is how you’re feeling today, I want to encourage you. Here are a few questions that help me when I'm going through a tough battle. I'm hoping they'll help you, too:

1) Are you expecting it to be easy?

It’s natural to get caught up in unrealistic expectations for quick and easy success, but those expectations can get you down. Think of it this way: if you’ve been overeating for thirty years, you’ve got thirty years of lies to dig through on your way to recovery.

It’s going to take awhile to dig through all those lies.

If you’re tempted to get discouraged, think of a stock market chart. Even the best stocks out there never go up in a smooth, continuous line. It’s always up, then down, then up again. That’s how your battle with eating will be.

2) How long have you been using spiritual weapons to fight the battle?

The woman in my class had been fighting the battle for thirty years but she’d only been using spiritual weapons for six months. So in a sense, she’d really only been fighting the battle for six months. Remember 2 Corinthians 10:3-5? If it’s a spiritual battle, you need spiritual weapons to fight it. Thirty years of dieting isn’t the same as thirty years of fighting lies with truth.

3) How diligent have you been with your weapons?

Sometimes we think we’re working on a problem when we’re really just obsessing over a problem. Here’s a question I ask myself sometimes just to keep myself honest:

On a scale of 1 to 10, how much effort are you putting into renewing your mind?

I can tell you from experience that I see almost no change when my number is less than a 5, very little change when it’s less than an 8, and lots of change when it’s a 9 or a 10. So what do I do if I really want to change? I make it a 9 or 10.

4) How often are you using your weapons?

The more I work on issues in my own life, the more I realize: if I want to change, I need to renew my mind every time the issue comes up. Even if the issue comes up so often I’m sick to death of renewing my mind about it.

It’s a lot of work, but it’s worth it. Not only because I’m breaking free from my obsessions, but also because I’m growing closer to the One who loves me and longs to show me the way to victory.

5) What are your motives?

I’m hesitant to include this last question because I think if we have the wrong motives, God shows us when we renew our minds. But it might be worth thinking about.

Here’s why: If we’re only going to God so He can make us skinny, He might not be inclined to change us. Why? Because if we feel like we have to have skinny, there's a good chance we're making an idol of skinny. And God doesn't want us to have any idols.

He knows that only in Him will we find lasting peace and joy. So He may decide to help us find peace and joy by not giving us skinny until we can handle it.

I hope these questions will encourage you to persevere in the battle even if you’re exhausted. I’m going through a battle of my own right now, not with food, but with some other things God wants me to give up.

Why don’t we press on together?

Thursday, October 27, 2011

Are You Full Yet?

When my kids were little, I planned a trip to Arizona with the newest baby to visit my parents. Thinking my four-year-old might enjoy a trip to see Grandma and Grandpa, I invited him along.

I told him he could come if he wanted, or he could stay home and go to a friend’s house one night for a sleepover and a video.

My little four-year-old agonized over the decision. Which would be more fun: going on a plane to see grandma and grandpa or sleeping at a friends’ house and watching a video?

He finally chose the plane trip, but it was a tough decision.

Not only does this show how video-deprived my kids were, it also shows what a hard time we have making decisions. Especially when we want the best possible option for maximum fun and enjoyment.

The criteria we use for making decisions reveals a lot about what’s important to us. For my son, the key factor was fun. He was following in his mom’s footsteps because that's what I have a tendency to live for.

We're all tempted to live for things other than God, and we can see these temptations at work in the way we make decisions.

Just think about your own life. What do you base your decisions on? The answer to that question may show what you have a tendency to live for.

Here are a few possibilities:

  1. What will be most fun?
  2. What will be easiest?
  3. What will be safest?
  4. What’s fair?
  5. What’s comfortable?
  6. What will help me get the most work accomplished?
  7. What will make people admire me?
  8. What will make people like me?
  9. What will make the least amount of people mad at me?
  10. What is the Father’s will?

The problem with living for things other than God is that we never get enough to satisfy. If we choose the video, we’ll worry that the plane trip would have been more fun. If we choose the plane trip, we’ll wonder about that video.

God talks about this issue in Jeremiah 2:13 when He says this:

For My people have committed two evils: They have forsaken Me, The fountain of living waters, to hew for themselves cisterns, broken cisterns that can hold no water.

Fun as a life goal is a broken cistern that can hold no water. No matter how much we pour in, we’ll never get enough to fill us up.

The same holds true for a life focused on comfort, fair, safe, or skinny.

And the same holds true for a life focused on food.

When we live for things other than God, we’ll never get enough to satisfy. The more we pour into our needy bodies, the more we’ll need because the cistern is broken.

The best thing we can do if we really want to be happy is to go to the fountain of living waters.

Because He’s the only One who can truly fill us.

Thought for the day: What are you trying to fill yourself up with? Is it working?

Tuesday, October 25, 2011

If It Don't Come Easy, You Gotta Let It Go

It’s been more than twenty years since Tanya Tucker came out with her hit, but the song’s message lives on: If it don’t come easy, you gotta let it go.

She was talking about relationships, but how often are we tempted to apply the same principle to eating?

Bored with my boundaries? Gotta let it go.

Tired of renewing my mind? Gotta let it go.

Frustrated with the whole battle? Gotta let it go.

The song is fun, but I’m not sure it’s scriptural.

Think of what Jesus said to His disciples: If anyone wishes to come after Me, he must deny himself, take up his cross and follow Me. *

That doesn’t sound like a Man who would say, If it don’t come easy, you gotta let it go.

We all have days we want to let it go.

Those are the days we need to renew our minds more than ever. Press into God. Let Him replace those song lyrics running through our minds with the truth of His Word.

And always remember: If it don’t come easy, it’s an opportunity to grow. (Sorry, I couldn’t resist.)

To think about: Are boundaries usually easy to follow, or do have to give up something to follow them? Is Christ usually easy to follow, or do you usually have to give up something to follow Him?

*Matthew 16:24

P.S. You may have noticed I'm back to writing my blog. It's not coming easy, but I'm going to try not to let it go!

P.P. S. If you want to watch a good video by Francis Chan on growing through trials, check out this link: The Holy Spirit's Power and Our Effort - Part One.