Have you ever been caught up in your own addictions and desires that you forgot the fear of the Lord?
Living to satisfy the constant and unyielding lusts of the flesh?
For example, after one polite piece of cake…your body becomes ravenous for more? Suddenly you want to grab a fork and sneak off with the entire thing??
For most of my life, I’ve been “victim” of an unhealthy, unending cycle of craving junk food, eating junk food, and then feeling like junk food.
The foods that brought the most comfort contained little to no nutrition. Bloated, weak, and never fully satisfied, I became hungry again…and quickly.
Hence: The Cycle.
If you can relate, may I ask, how do you even muster up the desire and courage to exit that cycle?
What do you do?
They were harmless. Just a bag of chips.
It was the start of a new year and I had eaten well all week, depriving myself willingly of the food I was craving.
But one January night at Walmart, when all I needed was propane, I spotted a bag of my favorite chips…and desire set in.
Just one bag wouldn’t hurt.
Because instead of making New Year’s resolutions, I decided to fast entertainment and just eat in moderation.
But even as I ate in moderation, I still found myself seeking food for comfort, not hunger.
There was pain on the inside; an emotional hunger, a deep pain that needed healing.
Sometime long ago, when I was very young and very sad, I felt good after eating a piece of pizza, cake, or ice cream…junk food.
So day after day, year after year, I unknowingly trained my body to desire these foods when I felt pain because I knew it would bring me relief…at least temporarily.
All things are lawful for me, but all things are not helpful. All things are lawful for me, but I will not be brought under the power of any. 1 Corinthians 6:12
I call it Operating in Dysfunction.
If I’m not desiring healthy, fiber-rich foods, the foods I actually want to eat and feel good about; then I’m operating in dysfunction.
To me, operating in dysfunction just means something’s not quite right.
It could be a hidden sadness, or a longing for comfort hidden so deep that on the surface, everything still feels fine.
But in reality, there’s unchecked hurt, pain, or fear hiding below.
“I’m nervous because I’m in a new place, surrounded by new people…I want a piece of chocolate.”
“My students today were particularly disruptive…I think I’ll have pizza for dinner.”
“Someone talked back to me just now…I’ll take another bite.”
Over time food became my number one, readily available source of comfort.
But what I didn’t know was that I’d been seeking the comfort of Jesus. The true, holy, and lasting comfort that only He can bring.
God’s been calling me to obedience with my eating for the past few months. And I struggled. I questioned in my heart, “God, is this really you?”
I didn’t know I had been fighting the Holy Spirit over what I was putting in my body, His temple.
Taking scripture out of context, I twisted the Word to back up my unhealthy eating habits.
“Christ has set me free, all things are good before the Lord, eat whatever is put in front of you, I’m no longer under the law, etc…”
I needed the fear of the Lord.
Fear of the Lord got me through the first moments of temptation this year.
Respecting His Word, honoring Him, desiring to please Him, obey Him and cooperate with His good will for my life.
Beloved, I pray that you may prosper in all things and be in health, just as your soul prospers. -3 John 1:2
When I allowed the fear of God to lead me, Jesus showed up in an incredible way. I actually experienced His strength in the area of my eating.
So as I purchased the propane and chips, and walked back to my car that night at Walmart, a song came to my mind. “Show Me Your Glory.”
The Holy Spirit knew it would remind me of the time when I sought God but just couldn’t get close.
Something was in the way.
I wanted to do what He called me to do, but I couldn’t yet part with the foods that brought so much comfort. And the struggle on the inside, the turmoil, produced a low-grade fear that settled into my heart.
It kept me from going deeper with God.
When the fear finally broke and His Presence flooded my soul, I resolved in my heart, “I will never again let anything get in the way between me and God.”
The fear of the Lord is the beginning of wisdom; A good understanding have all those who do His commandments; His praise endures forever. Psalm 111:10
Then the church throughout Judea, Galilee and Samaria enjoyed a time of peace and was strengthened. Living in the fear of the Lord and encouraged by the Holy Spirit, it increased in numbers. Acts 9:31
God calls us to give things up if we want to go to a deeper level with Him.
When He says our body is His temple…it means something.
As a college student who lived on junk food, John Bevere heard God say “your body is My temple, take care of it.”
And it took a few years to change his diet for good. But now, he just has no desire for junk anymore. He’s in his early 60’s, vibrant, healthy and full of life.
And you know, when I picture an actual Temple, I think about how much work goes into making it look good and keeping it secure.
I can see the gardener tending to the rosebushes; the janitor emptying the trashes.
All that pruning, all that care.
God prunes us that way too, you know.
How can we be beautiful temples if we’re tired, sluggish, sick and addicted?
But through all the struggle, fear and anxiety, God’s been incredibly merciful and faithful.
He gets it. He knows how it feels to hurt deeply. I remember saying to the Lord at one point, “but God…I’m not habitually sinning. I’m not into sexual sin, lying, stealing, gossiping, etc.”
“I pray blessings over those who offend me and I’m very careful about what I look at and listen to.”
So why wasn’t I careful about what I ate?
Why was I so casual about fighting for His desires over my life?
You’ve probably been eating for comfort and relief for years.
You don’t really know any other way. God gets it.
There’ve been times I’ve asked the Lord “Can I eat this?” Then I would feel freedom as His answer, so I ate it. And you know what? Nothing happened. He still loved me.
But other times I would ask, feel His freedom, and decide to worship instead.
And by the time I was finished worshiping, I didn’t want to eat anymore.
The desire had subsided. Completely.
Following after the Holy Spirit leads to life and peace, but following after the old nature leads to death, because the old sinful nature within us is against God. It never did obey God’s laws and it never will. -Romans 8:6-7
There’s a reason you’re desiring that comfort food.
Maybe to ease the pain and disappointment from a lifetime of unfulfilled hopes and dreams. From a depression or anxiety so strong that the need for comfort becomes unbearable.
But Jesus can fill that need, beautifully. Only Him.
His Spirit leads to life and peace.
In intense moments of temptation, as you begin to sacrifice the flesh and follow the Spirit, know that life and peace are on the way. When you decide to follow the Lord, they’re the only outcome.
And let me tell you the sacrifice is not hard.
Because you’re not doing it in and of yourself. You’re opening up, raw and honest, allowing the Lord to take over.
And that’s when He can finally step in with the strength you need for that moment.
Don’t do like I did.
I hid my eating from the One who already knew.
It sounds silly now to me now. Because whenever we expose the hidden things to our merciful God, we only find freedom and compassion on the other side, never ever fear or condemnation.
You’ll feel that weight lifted, that internal sigh of relief.
It’s as simple as saying “Help me, Jesus. Give me the desire to please you.”
For it is God who works in you both to will and to do for His good pleasure. -Philippians 2:13
God can change your taste for things.
And it doesn’t have to take months of striving and toiling.
All that planning, organizing your meals, portioning this and controlling that…ahh!
Why not let God flesh out those details as you first run to Him to heal emotionally?
All you have to do is ask and believe. God can do anything.
And so I tell you, keep on asking, and you will receive what you ask for. Keep on seeking, and you will find. Keep on knocking and the door will be opened to you. For everyone who asks, receives. Everyone who seeks, finds. And to everyone who knocks, the door will be opened.
You fathers – if your children ask for a fish, do you give them a snake instead? Or if they ask for an egg, do you give them a scorpion? Of course not! So if you sinful people know how to give good gitfs to your children, how much more will your heavenly Father give the Holy Spirit to those who ask Him. Luke 11:9-13
God can give you the will and desire to do His good pleasure.
It’s such a work, and it’s on His end, not ours.
We lean into Him and His understanding, not our own guessing, striving, and hoping…to find rest, life and peace.
Thank you, Father.
Be blessed and encouraged.