The heart of God, our Father, is partial toward His children. He bends His ear to hear us. When you ask Him to help you get healthy, whole and free, His answer is a big, fat yes! What father wouldn’t want a sound mind and a spirit of power and love for his kids, that they might know who they are and how they are designed to add good to the world? Not just a good father. But we have a good, good Father who says, “Yes and amen!” to these requests. “For no matter how many promises God has made, they are ‘Yes’ in Christ” 2 Corinthians 1:20 NIV.
You might think that your heart is the engine of your body. In purely physical terms, that is true. The heart is the muscle that pumps the blood needed to keep your body in business. Mechanically speaking, the heart is your motor. Without your heartbeat, you would cease to exist.
However, when it comes to moving your desires and intentions forward your mind takes on that function. The desires of your heart are like fuel that must be fed into an engine (your mind), or your life will constantly backfire. You might have the best intentions. For example, you might long for a close relationship with your family, wish for a more fulfilling vocation or desire more energy and vitality. But unless your mind becomes convinced to act on these intentions, your goals will be as useless as gasoline poured into a car with a burned-out motor. The same is true in our relationship with God: He can be working in our hearts, but if our minds aren’t being changed as well, we may not make as much progress as we’d like.
God desires to show us His power and ability. We are to do all things in His power and in His way, not in our own. This includes weight loss and
His power strengthens us. What a relief! This means we are not on our own. Since His purpose is to show us His power and strengthen us through that power, we do not navigate our own course. To those who don’t know God, this sounds like foolish talk. After all, we have a hard time relinquishing control.
As we embark on a journey to better health, it’s tempting to tell ourselves that we just need to suck it up and be more disciplined, that weight loss and healthy habits are things we just need to “do.” Is it possible that our choices, good or bad, could be a small part of a bigger plan that God can use for our ultimate good? Maybe these weight-loss, health and body concerns are issues God can use to get our attention and gain our affection.
Desperation and disgust are powerful motivators for change, but they do not lead to lasting results and increasing joy.
Somewhere between Creation and now, our approach to food has gone seriously wrong. When food–or anything, for that matter–is given the highest value in your life, it no longer serves you. You serve that which you give highest value. If food is the first priority of your life, it is actually malnourishing you and subtracting from your health while adding to your personal poverty.
When we use something inappropriately, it gives birth to sin. The sin that starts out as “a little here, a little there” eventually grows into something that masters us–even as it seems to promise some payoff or reward. This is bondage. Bondage is involuntary servitude or, as it is more commonly known, an addiction. Common examples of addiction are dependencies on caffeine, sugar, fat and salt. You don’t enjoy the payoff, but you keep returning to the addictive behavior because you feel trapped. You feel as if you have no will or choice, so you keep doing the very thing you don’t want to do.
What starts as a necessary behavior (eating in order to survive) becomes more about the food and less about us–or about God, for that matter. And the payoff is no longer about sustaining life through the provision of energy. Eating becomes about the false high that feel-good food provides. The high is followed by the low. The need to assuage the low with the high creates bondage. “The high” becomes “the lie.” When a food, substance, feeling, thought, or activity takes us captive, we are willing to stay chained to it in order to receive momentary payoffs. Food that makes us feel good can take us hostage and enslave us to a taste and/or a physical and emotional state that is tied to that specific food, so we can get by for another day.
There is only one God. There is no substitute (see Exodus 20:4-5). When we place food, drink, sex, drugs, etc., in the doorways of our hearts, we make it difficult for Him to enter. He prefers not to trip over the idols that we have placed at our hearts’ doors. He desires to come into our lives, do some housecleaning, and reveal His power, purpose, and strength in us. Then He gets His glory and we receive our joy. Idols are a distraction, and our God is a jealous God. He is not jealous of the so-called gods we choose to worship; He is jealous of the love and adoration that we give to these cheap substitutes.
Has food become an idol that is hindering your love and adoration of your God? Is it getting in the way of your ability to love and value yourself as God loves and values you? Once you reach a point where food is no longer serving your good health, well-being and Kingdom of joy, you can bet you are serving food. It has you in bondage and/or has become your idol. Your good thing has become your God thing, and you are no longer free to abandon yourself completely to the worship of your Creator.
TYPE: Choose an activity you think you might enjoy. Anything goes! Get physically adventuresome and try different ways to move your body. Dance in your living room. Go outside and walk, run, bike or hike. Kickbox, punch, swim or cross-train. Do you need to go somewhere to participate in the activity, and if so, are you willing to sacrifice that time for the payoff of living well?
Remember, in the end, it’s not about the exercise. Moving your body is a spiritual discipline —a space for the whole you to connect with the One who insists on moving you toward wholeness and transforming you into more Christlikeness.
FREQUENCY: Start with the goal of exercising at least three times this week. If you are just getting moving, don’t overdo it! Be kind to yourself as you set and work toward the goal of getting your heart rate up at least three times this week.
If you are already physically active and feel ready for more, go ahead and add a day at a time, a week at a time, working yourself up to six days a week. Always take a day of rest during the week. Your body needs it, and God really likes it. If resting makes you anxious, I bet God would love to talk to you about that—and not while you are moving your body. Sometimes resting is one of the most difficult things we can do. Do it anyway!
INTENSITY: This is key! Make your exercise matter. If it’s been a while since you deliberately moved your body, establish a steady baseline level of cardiovascular exercise. Go for a thirty-minute walk at a steady, heart-pumping, but not too strenuous pace. God will give you the grace, I promise! Just ask Him to walk with you. He’s been waiting to do so.
After two weeks or so of establishing a baseline fitness level, you will be ready to start turning up the intensity. On one of your workout days, you might begin incorporating intervals into your thirty minutes of movement. Intervals are set periods of time when you increase your level of exertion beyond what is comfortable before returning to a more relaxed pace. An interval can last as little as ten seconds and as long as three minutes, with a recovery time equal to or greater than the length of the interval work.
With an increased workout effort, be sure to let the Spirit lead you. Have fun as you willingly go into the deeper and harder places the Holy Spirit often uses to release us from the things that hinder and hold us back.
Be Real. You have to show up, do the work and be completely you. Don’t try to fake it for anyone else’s sake. Don’t live as if you have to audition for others’ approval. Don’t try to cover up your imperfections by donning another pair of spiritual Spanx. Our good God sees it all, and He is not offended by our messes. Achieving wholeness is possible only when we bring all of our insecurities and mistakes to the table. And we cannot heal what we are not willing to reveal, so please do yourself a favor and just be real. You are safe in His presence.