I grew up in a very missions minded church. With this emphasis on missions and my desire to do something special in God's kingdom, it wasn't unusual I went forward in several services over the years to volunteer to be a foreign missionary.
I had my heart set on helping people and at the same time telling their stories to others who might not be able to go to a foreign country, but they could help send missionaries.
I went to college on a mission's scholarship. I didn't want to be a preacher or teacher. Maybe I could use my writing skills in some way? Right out of college I worked in the press office of a foreign missions board.
Toward the Mission Field
They had a program for college graduates to spend two years on the mission field. I prayed about it and barely got the application in under the deadline. Then I got the response saying I had been rejected. I was slightly more than 20 percent over normal weight. If I could lose the weight in three months, I would be accepted on a provisional basis.
I threw the letter away. I didn't think I could lose the 30 pounds I needed to lose in three months. I was miffed and ashamed. I didn't want anyone to know I had been rejected because of my weight.
My self-esteem was at a record low and I felt God couldn't use me in any shape or form. For years I had been looking forward to graduating from college and stepping into my calling. I'd heard all of my life all I needed to do was be available.
I'd said, "Here I am God." Then it felt like He said, "But you're too fat."
Is God Concerned About My Weight?
The truth is that even back then God had been trying to get my attention about what would become a huge issue in my life and how it was connected to my destiny.
I never thought those two things, my weight and my destiny, were connected. Even after being turned down for the missions program, I didn't connect the dots. I knew I should lose weight, but was God really concerned about my weight? And if so, why?
Scripture is clear on this subject, but we don't seem to preach about it from the pulpit. "You were God's expensive purchase, paid for with tears of blood. So then, use your body to bring glory to God," (1 Cor. 6:20 TPT).
Earlier in 1 Cor. 6:12-13 God warns us about doing whatever we want, which definitely applies to overeating. In the Message version it says it clearly: "Just because something is technically legal doesn't mean it's spiritually appropriate. If I went around doing whatever I thought I could get by with, I'd be a slave to my whims.
"You know the old saying, 'First you eat to live, and then you live to eat'? Well, it may be true that the body is only a temporary thing, but that's no excuse for stuffing your body with food or indulging it with sex. Since the Master honors you with a body, honor Him with your body!"
We have no excuse to stuff our bodies with unhealthy food. In other words, overindulging in food is damaging our bodies which are the dwelling places for the Holy Spirit.
Whenever I get to the point where I feel like I'm working hard for God and want to reach for something I know will not benefit my body, I am no longer working for God. I am working for me. I am building my kingdom, not God's.
Even when I started my weight loss journey, it wasn't because I wanted to honor God with my body. It was because I was sick and tired of being fat and lazy. I felt God's destiny had passed me by.
After I lost 250 pounds, God helped me understand my real destiny is writing, coaching, speaking, podcasting and sharing in every way that overindulging in foods can be a life or death matter that we need to submit to God.
Surrender Is the Key to Purpose
Bill Johnson says this: "Out of our surrender to Christ suddenly there is the discovery of purpose." I know the truth of this now. I didn't when I was unwilling to surrender sugar and comfort foods to Him.
God won't move us towards the purpose He has for us until we have surrendered everything to Him. If there is even one thing we are holding back from Him, we are not ready to step into our purpose.
God had a plan for my life. He knew exactly what I had to do before I could step into it. He didn't lay it all out for me. He just asked me to follow Him each step of the way. Weight loss and destiny were interwoven, but the foods I loved were what I couldn't seem to surrender. Until I surrendered them, God couldn't show me the next step on my destiny.
God Has a Destiny for Each of Us
I should never have doubted He had a destiny and a purpose for me, though. He tells me plainly He does.
"We have become His poetry, a re-created people that will fulfill the destiny He has given each of us, for we are joined to Jesus, the Anointed One. Even before we were born, God planned in advance our destiny and the good works we would do to fulfill it!" (Ephesians 2:10 TPT).
God is more concerned about us fulfilling our destinies than we are. He knows who we are. He knows how we will mess up His plans, but He still helps us get back on the right path headed towards our destiny with purpose and determination to follow Him every step of the way.
Teresa Shields Parker is the author of six books and two study guides, including her No. 1 bestseller, Sweet Grace: How I Lost 250 Pounds. Her sixth book, Sweet Surrender: Breaking Strongholds, is live on Amazon. She blogs at teresashieldsparker.com. She is also a Christian weight loss coach (check out her coaching group at Overcomers Academy) and speaker. Don't miss her podcast, Sweet Grace for Your Journey, available on CPN. This article first appeared on teresashieldsparker.com.
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