Monday, May 27, 2013

Struggle #5-Turning to food rather than God

"Modern Christians, especially those in the Western world, have generally been found wanting in the area of holiness of body. Gluttony and laziness, for example, were regarded by earlier Christians as sin. Today we may look on these as weaknesses of the will but certainly not sin. We even joke about our overeating and other indulgences instead of crying out to God in confession and repentance." Jerry Bridges

This is a tough one. A very sensitive subject. It is also a VERY common struggle amongst women. God gave us food. Food is good. But we seem to always mess up even the good things He gives. Gluttony seems to be one of the “acceptable Christian sins”. Sometimes even joked about. But God doesn’t find it acceptable or funny. And neither should we. 

I have struggled with food my whole life. It has been my drug of choice. In high school and some of college I struggled with anorexia. I got down to like 80 lbs and still felt I needed to lose weight. My mother was a alcoholic and the only way she seemed to express her love to us was through food. I was angry with her because of her addiction and so I "paid her back" by not eating her meals... in a strange and sick way, I enjoyed watching her suffer with my eating disorder. After a year or so it turned into more of an image disorder and my "relationship" with food has been messed up ever since.

Now I am overweight and am struggling with eating too much rather than too little. God desires balance in this area. Few women seem to find that balance.

Let’s look at Gen. 25:29-34. 

29 Once when Jacob was cooking some stew, Esau came in from the open country, famished. 30 He said to Jacob, “Quick, let me have some of that red stew! I’m famished!” (That is why he was also called Edom.)
31 Jacob replied, “First sell me your birthright.”
32 “Look, I am about to die,” Esau said. “What good is the birthright to me?”
33 But Jacob said, “Swear to me first.” So he swore an oath to him, selling his birthright to Jacob.
34 Then Jacob gave Esau some bread and some lentil stew. He ate and drank, and then got up and left.

Let's break this down. Jacob had food. Esau wanted food. Esau loved food more than something of greater importance, his birthright. Esau exchanged something as important as his birthright for food! How many of us do this daily? We exchange better health, being more attractive for our husbands, peace and practicing self-control for that cookie, that brownie, that "one more bite"... Let's not be Esaus ladies!
We give up so much good just to satisfy our cravings. Our flesh wins way too often.

Also consider Eve. Let’s turn to Gen. 3.6 

When the woman saw that the fruit of the tree was good for food and pleasing to the eye, and also desirable for gaining wisdom, she took some and ate it. She also gave some to her husband, who was with her, and he ate it.

There is so much in this one verse it is crazy! She SAW the food and thought it looked pleasing and desirable (how many can relate to that pattern of events in their own kitchen or potlucks and family reunions?!) And then, the worst part, "she took some and ate it". This is where she sinned. We are not sinning when we look at food and see it as pleasing or desirable. It is when we are already full and we reach for more and eat it that we sin. Eating is not evil. Eating is a gift. Eating too much is sin. Our bodies show us whether or not we are practicing sin or self-control.
Notice also that Eve's husband suffers because of her decision. Many men won't admit it but they suffer because we overeat. Men are visual and when we carry around extra weight it's just not as visually pleasing... just keepin' it real ladies.

It also affects our relationship with our kids. The fatter I feel and the more I overeat the grumpier I am. The grumpier I am the worse I am as a mom and the less energy I have to play.

Lastly, it affects our relationship with God. He desires for us to crave Him more than we crave food. To pant for Him. To long for Him. To seek Him and His Word. We must desire Him above all else. There is a great book and video series on this called: Made To Crave. Click here to watch a video on it!

However, we can also swing to the other side of the pendulum and make healthy food an idol in our life! Many women may not turn to food instead of God and overeat but they are consumed with the latest research on health food and spend more time studying health than the Word of God. We are to set our eyes, heart and mind on Christ. Not on food. Don't worry about food either way. Jesus said “Do not worry about what you will eat or drink”. I know the context is more about trusting God to provide us with food but in the culture we live in there is plenty of food. Now it is more of an issue of not worrying about it in terms of thinking about it all the time. Food is a tool that we should use to do whatever it is the Lord has for us. We can enjoy it and not obsess over it.

One more thing: "Two mistakes accompany most discussions on gluttony.The first is that it only pertains to those with a less than shapely waistline; the second is that it always involves food. In reality, it can apply to toys, television, entertainment, sex, or relationships. It is about an excess of anything." Chris Donato. Some of you may not turn to food but you may turn to the television. The phone. Facebook. Alcohol. Whatever. We can all turn to something or someone instead of the Lord and His desire is that we turn to Him. He alone satisfies!