If you’ve been reading—and living—Live Well! for a while, you have already done some soul searching to discover the changes that you’d like to make. You may have sat down to develop a plan, invited God along for the journey, and taken steps to live out that plan in your life. Good. Hopefully you’ve discovered success along the way and are determined to keep on running. That’s a great place to be. Now we’re ready to take a look at the future. Living well is not merely a lifestyle; it’s the means of getting to the destination we so desire—freedom. Imagine being able to enjoy three bites of a brownie without the desire for more. Picture yourself choosing a salad over pizza for lunch, because it’s just what you are hungering for. Envision yourself being the comfortable size you’ve always dreamed you could be. God has designed a life for each of us, which includes the hope of our freedom, it’s waiting for you, and it’s not that far from your grasp.
The Spirit of the Sovereign LORD is on me, because the LORD has anointed me to preach good news to the poor. He has sent me to bind up the brokenhearted, to proclaim freedom for the captives and release from darkness for the prisoners, to proclaim the year of the Lord’s favor and the day of vengeance of our God, to comfort all who mourn. Isaiah 61:1-2 NIV
Freedom. Did you read that?! What a glorious hope for those who are living in bondage to food, or women who are trapped in a body that they feel is not theirs.
Free·dom: The power to exercise choice and make decisions without constraint from within or without. (www.dictionary.com)
That is His hope for you—freedom to choose. Isn’t that what His plan was for us all along? His hope for you is not that you remain in bondage to the desires of this world, but that you move out from the darkness of your bondage and into the light of His freedom—that includes your freedom from the bondage of food.
How do we know that once we reach that place of freedom we won’t wake up and find ourselves in the exact same chip-craving, food-stuffing, guilt-ridden place that we started in? Because this time we’re doing it God’s way—relying on His strength to set us free:
So if the Son sets you free, you will be free indeed. John 8:36, NIV
But that’s talking about sin, how can that relate to our struggle with food? Isn’t it different? Well, let’s answer it this way–what is sin? The technical definition is in the translation of the Greek word: hamartia, which is “missing the mark.” And why do we miss it? We transgress the commandments of God in lieu of our pleasure—the Spirit at war with the flesh.
But I need something more! For if I know the law but still can’t keep it, and if the power of sin within me keeps sabotaging my best intentions, I obviously need help! I realize that I don’t have what it takes. I can will it, but I can’t do it. I decide to do good, but I don’t really do it; I decide not to do bad, but then I do it anyway. My decisions, such as they are, don’t result in actions. Something has gone wrong deep within me and gets the better of me every time. Romans 7:17-20, The Message
Sound familiar? Reminds me of the guilt sessions I’ve often hosted in my brain just before nodding off to sleep with a full gut. Let’s face it–we’re not alone in our struggle with food. Countless women struggle with the same pull to the fridge as we do, desperately hoping to find a way out.
The sad fact is that many women live their entire lives in bondage, never discovering the keys to unlocking the door. We can. The Word of God contains every key that we need to unlock our freedom and live a victorious life. A few months back we talked about freedom and the importance of getting there, but this month we’re going to uncover eight of the keys that will carry us through:
- Stop idolizing food:
“For where your treasure is, there your heart will be also.” (Matthew 6:21, NIV)
That’s put simply enough. If we’re thinking of food from sun up to sun down, we need a little renovation of the brain. We need to shift our focus to healthier thoughts, or as my kids would say, “Get a life.” Realize food for what it is: fuel. It’s really little more than that.
- Start idolizing God:
“Since, then, you have been raised with Christ, set your hearts on things above, where Christ is seated at the right hand of God. Set your minds on things above, not on earthly things. For you died, and your life is now hidden with Christ in God.” (Colossians 3:1-3)
There you go! Start that renovation off by setting your focus on heavenly things. Open the Bible, grab a pen, discover God, and once you do–I guarantee that you’ll idolize Him.
- Resist the devil:
“Submit yourselves, then, to God. Resist the devil, and he will flee from you.” (James 4:7, NIV)
Realize that the longing for the things of this world are not Spirit-led thoughts. If they were, they wouldn’t be met with guilt time and again. The Spirit does not fuel an unhealthy desire for food; sin does. Resist the unhealthy thoughts by discerning and rejecting those that are bad.
- Find an accountability partner or group: “Therefore confess your sins to each other and pray for each other so that you may be healed. The prayer of a righteous man is powerful and effective.” (James 5:16, NIV)Accountability partners offer support, wisdom, and a nudge when we slip off the path. Find a group or an individual that will spur you on.
- Exercise choice:
“In the same way, count yourselves dead to sin but alive to God in Christ Jesus. Therefore do not let sin reign in your mortal body so that you obey its evil desires. Do not offer the parts of your body to sin, as instruments of wickedness, but rather offer yourselves to God, as those who have been brought from death to life; and offer the parts of your body to him as instruments of righteousness.” (Romans 6:11-13, NIV)
If we want great looking legs, we need to exercise them, right? The same goes for choice. The more we give up our ability to choose, the more it loses strength. Giving in to every whim weakens us over time. Start saying “No” to your desires more often, and you’ll build up stamina. As my friend May says, “If you want to wear different sized pair of pants, you have to live differently.”
- Walk in the Spirit:
“So I say, live by the Spirit, and you will not gratify the desires of the sinful nature.” (Galatians 5:16, NIV)
Because the Spirit has no desire for the things of the earth, it naturally makes sense that a Spirit-led person would lean the same way. Grow in the Spirit by living in communion with God.
- Rule your thought life:
“The weapons we fight with are not the weapons of the world. On the contrary, they have divine power to demolish strongholds. We demolish arguments and every pretension that sets itself up against the knowledge of God, and we take captive every thought to make it obedient to Christ.” (2 Corinthians 10:4-5, NIV)
Feed good thoughts and let the other ones starve. It may take deliberate steps at first, but in time it gets easier. Much like training a child, with repetition and persistence we can train our thoughts too.
- Draw from His strength:
“Therefore, since we are surrounded by such a great cloud of witnesses, let us throw off everything that hinders and the sin that so easily entangles, and let us run with perseverance the race marked out for us. Let us fix our eyes on Jesus, the author and perfecter of our faith, who for the joy set before him endured the cross, scorning its shame, and sat down at the right hand of the throne of God..” (Hebrews 12:1-2, NIV)
Remember that this journey is different from all the others that you may have run before. You’re not running alone this time–you are running with Jesus. He is the one who will pick you up when you fall, cheer you on as you run, and comfort you if the going gets tough. He will lead you through weight-loss to freedom, and you shall be free indeed!
©2008, Darlene Schacht
*We advise that you always consult your doctor before starting any diet or exercise program.