Every time I struggle with weight loss—and I do—I’m reminded of my sister, Bonnie. I’ve often talked about her over at Live Well Wednesdays, as the sister who went from a size 14 to an itty-bitty 4 this past year. What facilitated the change? Was it her portion control? Was it the fact that she went to the gym every day? Was it the water she started drinking? Those are the questions the world around her is asking. The answer is that, yes, in part those things took place, but most importantly her success was a direct result of the change that took place from within. When the Spirit of the Lord became an active ingredient in her daily walk, Bonnie was able to battle the flesh.
Let me be specific. She was already an active member at both church and the gym. She had already cut down on her portions. She was already drinking water like her lips were on fire. What she wasn’t doing was keeping her eyes fixed on the author and finisher of her faith—Jesus. She was sinking and swimming—swimming and sinking, until she put God first in her daily routine. She is just one of many women I know who have lost weight by changing their focus.
Matthew 14:22-33 illustrates this power in what I like to refer to as “eye contact.” This is the story of Peter, a man—one of the twelve disciples—who stepped onto the water with the best intentions. Peter, despite the storm that surrounded him, was willing to take a walk of faith.
An interesting thing about this story is that Peter initiated this walk of faith—not the other way around.
“Lord, if it’s you,” Peter replied, “tell me to come to you on the water.”
– Matthew 14:28, NIV.
Do you want a permanent change in your life? Are you willing to see what the power of God can do? Then take that step of faith. Like Peter, get your feet wet, and move forward. Trust.
Right about now insecurity is probably telling you that you can’t. Oh, I’ve had the same voice nagging me all day—all week in fact. Each time I look down at the muffin top. Every time I’ve had a little too much. Any time I try to do it on my strength alone.
But there’s another voice that powers me to press on. The voice that speaks softly but surely through each storm I face. “Come,” He says. And I know it’s the voice of my Savior hoping that once again I’ll lift my eyes until they’re locked in place with His. Hoping that I’ll trust Him every step of the way.
Why is it that when our eyes are fixed on Him we become an unsinkable force? It’s because the fullness of power by the Holy Spirit moves through Him. We find it simply stated in Galatians:
So I say, live by the Spirit, and you will not gratify the desires of the sinful nature.
– Galatians 5:16, NIV.
I’ve read Galatians 5 many times throughout my Christian life. In fact I’ve memorized several of the scriptures in that chapter itself, but one day it spoke to me in a way it never had before. It was the answer to my struggle with food. If I repeat this passage throughout the Live Well journey, bear with me, it’s simply because I believe that it’s key to success. Let me also pull the other verse out for us:
For the sinful nature desires what is contrary to the Spirit, and the Spirit what is contrary to the sinful nature. They are in conflict with each other, so that you do not do what you want.
– Galatians 5:17, NIV
You see it’s impossible to live by the flesh if we are truly walking in the Spirit. Here’s an exercise to prove it: look up from this page for a minute and choose one object across the room. Once you have chosen one object, I want you to look at it for a count of 30 seconds, and while you’re looking at it, give it your full attention. Ready? One thousand one, one thousand two, one thousand three…
Done? Good. Now did you notice that when your eyes were fixed on that one object, the rest of the room was out of focus? Sure, you could still see the room, but whether the pillows were tossed about or the walnut table was hosting a coffee ring had no bearing on your thoughts for those 30 seconds. In fact I’ll venture to guess that you never thought about over eating for that brief moment in time. Now, let’s stretch our time out to 24/7, and replace that object with Jesus Christ. That’s how we walk in the Spirit!
It’s impossible to visually focus on two things at once. I’ve tried it, and yes I’ve looked ridiculous with my eyes trying to divide and conquer, and I failed. What happens when we try to focus on two things at once is that both objects get blurred. It’s the same way with trying to walk in the Spirit and flesh at the same time. Because they are contrary to one another, the result is that we don’t know what we want.
The Spirit supplies all that we need to live well. Do we eat because we feel unloved? Do we binge because a bout of depression landed heavily on our day? Did a tiff with our spouse knock us off our game? Are we losing patience faster than weight? Are we getting a little grouchy accepting the changes we’ve made? Do we need reminding that God’s faithfulness never ceases to amaze? Living a Spirit-filled life can conquer each and every one of these obstacles. Living well doesn’t mean that we reach out in search of self-control, but rather that we reach out to God. It calls for us to live a Spirit-filled life that produces fruit in every aspect of our life.
But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness and self-control. Against such things there is no law.
– Galatians 5:22-23, NIV.
Do you see the importance of each fruit? Can you line them up one by one with the struggles you face? Do you see how the fullness of the Spirit brings completeness to ones life rather than the quick fix the world is accustomed to taking? If not, I challenge you to pull out a pen, scratch down the specific difficulty that you face, and match it up to a fruit of the Spirit that conquers.
Fix your eyes on Jesus by getting to know Him. Learn everything you can about His life. Who were His brothers? What disciple was known as the one whom He loved? What was His last prayer in the garden? These are just some of the things we can learn. But the story of Christ didn’t start at Matthew, nor did it end at John. The Old Testament is rich in prophecy, and the New Testament reveals the gift of His Spirit to the church. There are so many ways to fix our eyes on Christ.
Listen, and you may hear His voice calling, “Come…”
©2008, Darlene Schacht
*We advise that you always consult your doctor before starting any diet or exercise program.