I looked down at the scale; my lips curled into a frown. I had my baby 5 weeks ago, and I was barely down 7 pounds. Sighing deeply, I moved to the bookshelf and retrieved the diet book. Guess it’s time to pull up my big girl pants - literally - and do this. I flipped through the pages and found the information I was looking for - low carb cleanse. It had worked before, so I purposed to stock my pantry and fridge with the required items and follow the plan. I couldn’t wait to see the pounds melt off.
Five days later, I skipped to the scale expecting to see big results. As the number appeared, my mouth dropped in horror. What was wrong with this thing? It hadn’t budged!
A friend had volunteered to bring us dinner that night. As the food came in and my house filled with the smells of warm comfort, my stomach rumbled in desire. It had been a long day, and I was hungry - really hungry. I thanked my friend and unpacked hot chicken pot pie, bread sticks, salad, and just-out-of-the-oven chocolate chip cookies. Ohhh! Chocolate chip - my favorite! My mouth watered, but I stood there dumbfounded. Of all this glorious dinner, only the salad fit my low carb plan. I felt the tears fill my eyes as I stared at the wafting steam from the dishes. What was I going to do?
I retreated to my room where I cried angry. God, this diet has worked before. Why isn’t it working this time? I’m trying to be so faithful, but I’m so hungry!
I started to weigh my options. I could pitch the whole thing and just enjoy myself. But where was the self-control in that? I could stick with my diet and just eat a salad; but I knew that wouldn’t fill my stomach making me even more emotional, and it wouldn’t give me the calories I desperately needed in order to feed my baby.
My Body, His Temple
As I sat there, 1 Corinthians 6:19-20 came to mind. “Or do you not know that your body is a temple of the Holy Spirit within you, whom you have from God? You are not your own, for you were bought with a price. So glorify God in your body.”
If my body is the temple of the almighty God, then he must know exactly what my body needs at each given moment. Maybe I should ask him what he thinks? So that’s what I did. Over the course of the next half hour or so, my loving Father led my heart to several passages of Scripture and began a paradigm shift that would change my life.
“‘All things are lawful for me,’ but not all things are helpful. ‘All things are lawful for me,’ but I will not be dominated by anything’" (1 Corinthians 6:13).
The enticing food sitting on my kitchen counter was not bad, wrong, or unlawful for me to consume. The question I had to consider was whether it would be helpful or controlling in that moment.
I began to ponder the options I had laid before myself. If I threw up my hands and indulged my every appetite, the very food that I was consuming would be taking mastery over me.
“I am the LORD your God, who brought you out of the land of Egypt, out of the house of slavery. You shall have no other gods before me” (Exodus 20:2-3).
In that moment, my eyes were opened to the truth. If it was possible for food to become an idol in my life, could it be that - even in my desire to be healthy and do things right - my diet could also become a little “g” god in my life? Maybe my diet and my desire for health wasn’t exactly aligned with God’s design for my body.
“For everything God created is good, and nothing is to be rejected if it is received with thanksgiving, because it is consecrated by the word of God and prayer” (1 Timothy 4:4-5).
If I chose not to eat any of the food provided because of my fear (fear of calories, the scale, messing up the diet, etc.), I was revealing the pride and ingratitude of my heart. And my well meaning diet was pushing me further away from the woman God wanted me to be.
My eyes began to clear as I realized my struggle wasn’t ultimately food. The issue at hand wasn’t even what the scale read at the end of the day. The question I had to ask myself was that of my heart’s posture. Who or what was I bowing to? My appetites? My diet? Some idea of what I should look like?
All those times in the past that I stressed myself out because of the rules of a diet or how fast the weight was (or was not) coming off, I was bowing to those things. The diet and the scale - both becoming my master. I was worshiping them before I was worshiping God.
Thank you God, for creating my body. I’m sorry I haven’t been treating it like your temple. I’m sorry I’ve had my own ideas of what I should look like, how I should eat or what I should weigh. I’m sorry I’ve never asked you. Could you give me wisdom? You promise it when I ask (James 1:5). Give me your vision for my physical body. Show me how to take care of this temple for your glory!
Food for the Stomach and Soul
As I returned to the table, new peace and joy flooded my heart. I did eat a hearty salad and a modest portion of the pot pie. And as I reached for a cookie, I felt God smile.
I returned to my room with that one cookie, sat on my bed, lifted it toward my face and inhaled deeply. Thank you, God for the cow that gave the milk that made the cream for the butter in this cookie. Thank you God for the chicken that laid the egg that was put in this cookie. Thank you God for the field that grew the wheat that produced the flour that is in this cookie. Thank you God for cocoa beans that got processed into chocolate chips that flavor this cookie.
Eating the Cookie
That chocolate chip cookie was probably pretty ordinary. Nothing spectacular went into that recipe. But that chocolate chip cookie - when I received it with a heart of gratitude - was the most delightful cookie I had ever eaten!
Sometimes glorifying God in my body is eating the cookie in gratitude. Other times, it is allowing the Holy Spirit to produce his self-control in my life and leaving the cookie on the tray.
Learning to bow to God alone is not a one-size-fits-all method. As I’ve learned to treat my body as God’s temple, I’ve seen that what is best for me may not be what is best for my friend. It’s really all about learning to walk in step with Him. Moment by moment.
May God be glorified in us as we live (and eat) for Him!