A small flame

A small flame

Pray as though your life depends on it

Pray as though your life depends on it

I don't think I did a lot of praying on my numerous diet attempts. I mean, I probably did pray about them sometimes. Prayers like 'I just want to be thin' or 'Please help me to be able to wear that outfit'. But I didn't pray about the real issues. I didn't know how to. I didn't even know what the real issues were.

Fast forward a few years and many failed attempts at 'thin' later, and I was beginning to understand the real issues. And I started to feel God drawing me toward dealing with what was really going on. To walk away from food as my comforter and instead turn toward the only true rest, in Him. And, more specifically, I knew he was calling me to fast from two foods that I had absolutely no self-control with: grain and sugar. {As radical as that seems in our American food culture, our bodies don't need to consume much grain or sugar to be healthy.} I knew with absolute certainty that my Father was calling me to a period of spiritual fasting from something that held way too much control over me.

But I didn't want to do it.

I even said that to a close friend or two: 'I know He wants me to walk away from grain and sugar for a while, and I don't want to do it.' Now I sound like my four-year-old does when I tell him to put his toys down and go to bed, I know. But the bondage of food was just. so. strong. I didn't even want to want to do it.

And then I had an epiphany. I realized that the words 'self-control' in the list in Galatians 5:22 were preceded by the words 'fruit of the Spirit'. Brilliant, I know. But I saw with a clarity that I never had before that self-control was something God's Spirit had to produce in me. I couldn't work up enough 'want to' because I wasn't supposed to. What a freeing realization!

And, so I began begging God for help. I didn't even ask for self-control at first. I asked for the want to. I asked him to change my heart just enough that I would want to have self control. I pleaded with him for the ability to desire Him above everything else. I asked him to make me tired of the settling for my slavery to food.

I read Psalm 84:2 to God every day: My soul yearns, even faints, for the courts of the LORD; my heart and my flesh cry out for the living God. I did love God. I did. But more than God, my heart cried out for food. And years of the success-followed-by-failure cycle had proved to me that I was powerless to change it. My only hope was to throw myself on God's mercy. To beg him to transform my heart and it's desires. To plead with him to make Psalm 84:2 a description of my heart, and not a condemnation of what it lacked. And - I can only describe it as 'miraculous' - my heart began to change. Out of my complete lack of 'want to' came a deepening love for my Abba and a growing desire for Him that could make my desire for food turn tail and slink away.

My soul yearns, even faints, for the courts of the LORD;
my heart and my flesh cry out for the living God

I still pray that verse often. I pray it with thanksgiving, because any victory I experience comes straight from His gracious hand. And I pray it with the certain knowledge that, as much as I love Him today, only His power can cause my heart to continue to cry out for Him, even on days when food still shimmers in front of me as the magical cure for my woes. I am completely dependent on Him. And that's the free-est place to be!

Uphold me according to your promise, that I may live,
and let me not be put to shame in my hope!
Hold me up, that I may be safe
and have regard for your statutes continually!
-Psalm 119: 116-117

What has a stronghold in your life?

Do you still think you can break its power with your own 'muscle'?

Can I urge you to throw yourself fully on God's mercy and leave the outcome in His hands.


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