“This means that anyone who belongs to Christ has become a new person. The old life is gone; a new life has begun!”
–2 Corinthians 5:17 (NLT)
If we’re honest, all of us have wanted to change something about the way in which we appear to others. There are all kinds of products on the market that can lend a hand. But while self-improvement is beneficial, we have really gone crazy when it comes to things like liposuction and plastic surgery.
Another way we try to change ourselves is through dieting. We often tend to view this as safe or commonplace, and therefore we take it with a grain of salt. But this tool can also be taken to extremes.
Here are a couple crazy diets I found while surfing the Web. First, there’s the cotton ball diet. In this very strange diet, people eat cotton balls soaked in water or juice. The theory is that this will fill up your stomach, and it will be the equivalent of a big meal. The problem is that cotton is hard to digest at high levels, and it can burst a person’s stomach or intestines.
Secondly, there is the patch-on-the-tongue diet. Some people have gone so far as to have a patch sewn onto their tongues. The idea behind this patch is that it will cause pain and discomfort whenever a dieter tries to eat solid food. Therefore, patch-wearers are forced to go on a liquid diet. (By the way, my wife is looking into that. Only kidding!) Taking off the pounds we pack on through solid food might be great, but I don’t recommend trying this diet if you’re aiming for a career in public speaking.
This brings me to ask a question in my mind: Is weight loss really worth all the dieting?” I guess I’m boring, but I didn’t really think so, and I didn’t want to find out for myself. I’m a practical kind of guy, and I just wanted to do something sensible. So I looked into various programs that seemed stable and promised results. Oh, you know what I mean—the ones that have been tested over time, and claim to be the be-all-and-end-all of dieting.
Nothing seemed to work, however, and I was getting frustrated and discouraged. Everything seemed like a dead end, and I wondered how–or if–I would achieve my goal.
First, I tried counting carbs. For various reasons, though, this seemed as futile for me as counting sheep. I found myself back at square one, and I rung my hands in frustration.
I decided the next stop would be my doctor. Surely he would have some advice, I thought. So once my appointment began, I poured my heart out to him.
The man was a true genius who impressed me by entering a deep, trance-like state for a minute. Then, he drew on all of his vast wisdom and sagely replied, “Eat less.” Based on his tone of voice, he may as well have handed down a divine message from the oracle on the mountain.
I was in a state of complete awe—that is, until I paid the bill. Then I wanted to turn around and scream, “What do you think I’ve been trying to do, Einstein?!” But uncharacteristically, I bit my tongue and stomped out of the office.
I didn’t know where to turn, but then a very good friend gave me some diet pills, which he had found on an infomercial. They were new, and I have to admit I was skeptical when he first told me about them. I wanted to be daring and try them, but I still got a couple doctors’ opinions to play it safe. (That may sound like an oxymoron, but what can I say?)
To make a long story short, the medical machine approved my pills, and said they would monitor their effects. Why not try them, I thought? So as soon as I got home, my first 2 pills went down the hatch.
It’s too early to tell for sure, but all I know is that after taking those first couple pills, I had already lost four pounds! Whether I was wrong and that was a product of exercise or just a fluke, you’ll have to sstay tuned in to future blog entries to find out. In any case, however, I’m not going to give the exercise and diet up. My hope is that they can all work together synergistically, as I try to keep a positive attitude when the road to weight loss gets long.
“Okay,” you say, “but what’s your point, Mr. Storyteller?”
As believers, we are all commanded to grow in grace. But I think that sometimes we view our relationship with God just like the act of taking a couple diet pills. Most of us treat our relationship with our heavenly Father more like an instant breakfast than an omelette to be enjoyed.
I invite you to join me by personalizing this question. Go to a quiet place where there are no distractions, and ask God what the Bible actually means when it describes this kind of growth. I will tell you what I came up with, but my answers may not fit your life, and that’s okay. So please feel free to find your own answers on this.
But in order to examine this concept fully, I needed to remind myself of something important. I might be able to work on things like diet, exercise, and having a positive attitude, but when push comes to shove, I am only a steward or manager of what God has given me. The idea of stewardship had just become too familiar, and I decided I would do well to dust it off. Trying to keep eternity in mind through the day is difficult, and very humbling. In my daily life, I notice that if I don’t reflect, I begin to collect—not necessarily stuff, but other burdens that God doesn’t intend for me to carry. Therefore, as none of us are promised tomorrow, we need God to search our hearts today.
In the light of that revelation, I became still, and I felt like He wanted me to share this with all of you.
God wants all of us to get out of our comfort zones and seek Him. He wants to empower us to live a lifestyle of what I call customized growth, as you surrender to Him. But this can only take place as we walk close beside Him.
At the beginning of this blog, I talked about change as a tool to please others, but I wondered if I had left God out of the equation in my zeal. In other words, I found that it wasn’t enough for me to take off the pounds. I had to put on Christ each day. Just as we put on clothes each morning, I need to ask Christ to cover me with His righteousness and change my heart on a daily basis. While a lasting change in my waistline would be beneficial, I decided that making sure the line between me and God was clear was imperative.
I want to leave you by saying that God isn’t looking for a new you. Instead, He’s looking for what I call a true you. He made you in His image because He says that in Christ, you are more than a conquerer. But it doesn’t stop there. He gave His all on the cross so that you could be true to Him and the plans He has for you. I pray that you’ll ask God to help you become a truer you every day of your life.
Thank you for reading this, and may the Lord give you a wonderful week! We are trying to reach people who are hurting, so if God lays it on your heart, please consider becoming a partner with us. If you would like to make a donation, please visit www.hcmachaplains.org and click on the Donate Now link. You can also send donations by mail to HCMA (Healthcare Chaplains Ministry Association). Our ID number is 560. The address is 101 S Kraemer BLVD, Suite 123A, Placentia, CA 92870.
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