We sing, "I surrender all," but what we really mean is, "I surrender some." The rest of it we're sure God will never require of us. It's non-negotiable because we feel we are entitled to be comfortable, or so we think.
Right now, I'm sitting in my comfortable recliner. The temperature in my office is just the way I like it. The lighting is perfect. I'm in comfortable clothing and my stomach is satisfied because I just ate lunch. I love being comfortable.
However, I so remember when God rocked my comfortably uncomfortable world big-time. I remember when He revealed that I was going to have to change what I ate every single day. I was going to have to give up sugar and breads.
I say comfortably uncomfortable because at the time, I weighed 430 pounds. I was very uncomfortable in my own body. However, I did not want to give up what I considered my only comfort—the desserts, the hot rolls, the breaded meats, the high-carbohydrate-laden casseroles, fast food, junk food and basically whatever I loved to eat.
This revelation meant I was going to have to learn an entirely new way to relate to the world around me. In the past, any time I had a problem, food was my drug of choice to help me deal with that problem. On some level, I thought I was entitled to that addiction.
The problems I was trying to avoid could be anything that frustrated, angered, overwhelmed or stressed me. It might be something that made me feel resentful, bitter, ashamed, judged, ridiculed, sad or depressed.
All of those problems I'd learned to make go away by eating sugar and starch-laden foods. Overeating, though, didn't really make the feelings go away; it just buried them under mountains and mountains of food.
The Cellar of My Life
I threw the bad feelings down to the cellar of my soul and heaped the foods I ate on them to make them be quiet. The difficulty is that even though the problems are down in the cellar, at some point, something will trigger them.
Then they will come back stronger, and I will need more food to keep them quiet. They really are never buried. They are alive and well, just waiting for the opportunity to emerge and ruin my day.
Eating to try to ignore my feelings was something I got really good at as a child. That habit continued into the time that I was working, married, having a family and dealing with life. It seemed that even though I was a Christian, I needed excess food to keep my emotions in check and act like a good Christian.
I didn't want to get mad and yell at people, cry uncontrollably or sit zombie-like in a corner. All of those seemed not to honor God. So, I overindulged in food to keep myself somewhere near sane, or what I felt like sane looked like.
The Search for Peace
I hadn't understood the memo where God said my relationship with Him was all I needed to have peace, absence from worry, panic and frustration. Oh, I'd probably read a few scriptures that said that, but I had no idea how to actually access His peace. I just thought I had to manufacture that on my own.
I found out, though, that any peace I try to manufacture is fake. The only real peace is the peace that Jesus brings. Before He went to the cross, He told His disciples that He was leaving them with the gift of peace of mind and heart. "Not the kind of fragile peace given by the world, but My perfect peace" (John 14:27b, TPT). There is nothing else in this world like it.
Even though I knew where to find real peace, I still was not willing to put all my eggs in the God basket. I wasn't ready to surrender this one part of my life to Him. I was still walking by sight, not faith.
Walking by Faith
I wanted something I could see, feel, smell, taste and touch. I wanted something tangible to comfort me. Sure, the Scripture says the Holy Spirit is comfort, but how does His comfort work better than oatmeal cookies or pecan pie to fill the ache inside me?
Walking by faith requires not seeing, and not knowing how or what will happen when God asks us to do something. It requires the kind of faith Abraham had to just start walking in a direction and let God led. That was a little too ethereal for me. How could I trust God completely when I don't know what the outcome will be?
Yet that is exactly what God asks of us. It's pretty simple, really. We are human. God is God. He knows better than we do what we really need that will fulfill the true desires of our hearts.
What Do We Want?
I was always just focused on what I wanted in this moment right now. I didn't feel that the future was within my grasp, so that was not even in the calculations of what I might do right now.
If I wanted to eat cookies, then I would eat cookies. That might make me feel better for a minute, but then when I realized it has affected my weight and my health, I would be sorry. Then, though, it was always too late.
But God knows exactly what we need in every moment. He will lead us to "prosper in all things and be in health, just as [our] soul prospers" (3 John 2b, NKJV) if we will let Him. First, though, we have to trust Him. We have to have faith that when He directs us in a certain way, it is what is best for us.
Getting to that point is not easy, but it is necessary if we really want to have everything in abundance, more than we expect—"life in its fullness until we overflow," as it says in John 10:10b (TPT).
However, if we are content to live a mundane, mediocre life of struggle and pain, we can keep eating cookies whenever we want.
The Mystery That Is God
There is this great, vast mystery to who God is and how He works in our lives. He reveals those mysteries to us as we begin to follow Him even in the small things like what we eat and how we move.
It's more than just going on a diet; it's following Him for total lifestyle change. Along the way, I lost 250 pounds, but I gained a deeper, more profound relationship with my God.
God, though, always gives us a choice. We can continue to harm the bodies He created for us and placed us in, or we can begin to take care of them by getting so close to Him that we can hardly stand it. When we do that, He begins to reveal more and more of His glory to us.
Glory to Glory
There is power in acknowledging God is God and we are not. There is power in asking Him to be the engine to drive what He wants us to do. His will in our lives can only be performed in tandem with Him. Yoked with Him, we can move from glory to the next level of glory.
"We can all draw close to Him with the veil removed from our faces. And with no veil we all become like mirrors who brightly reflect the glory of the Lord Jesus. We are being transfigured into His very image as we move from one brighter level of glory to another. And this glorious transfiguration comes from the Lord, who is the Spirit" (2 Cor. 3:18).
We can decide to wallow in the fleshly pursuits of our humanity, or we can choose the life filled with more and more of what God longs to reveal to us. The choice is always ours.
What will you choose?
Teresa Shields Parker is the author of five books and two study guides, including her latest, Sweet Journey to Transformation: Practical Steps to Lose Weight and Live Healthy, and her No. 1 bestseller, Sweet Grace: How I Lost 250 Pounds. She is also a blogger, spiritual weight loss coach (check out her coaching group, Overcomers Academy) and speaker at TeresaShieldsParker.com. Check out her new podcast, Sweet Grace for Your Journey.
This article originally appeared at teresashieldsparker.com.
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