Thursday, June 20, 2013

Subtle Shifts

Almost a month ago, I wrote about how I wanted to be satisfied.  It's no wonder then that since I've worked, consistently, to get in better shape, eat better and do this within the freedom of the Spirit, I've struggled to keep it up.  It's also no wonder that I started a Bible Study this week about the 7 "I AMs" of Jesus from the Gospel of John.  You know what the very first one, from chapter 6 is?

I am the bread of life. Whoever comes to me will never go hungry, and whoever believes in me will never be thirsty.

John, true to his theological arguments, means this on so many levels.  Jesus is surely not just talking about physically eating.  He is talking about filling a deep-down, spiritual hole each of us have: with Himself and nothing else.  That's where we get tripped up so often.  In a sermon called "The Weight of Glory," C.S. Lewis declares,

Indeed, if we consider the unblushing promises of reward and the staggering nature of the rewards promised in the Gospels, it would seem that Our Lord finds our desires not too strong, but too weak.  We are half-hearted creatures, fooling about with drink and sex and ambition when infinite joy is offered us, like an ignorant child who wants to go on making mud pies in a slum because he cannot imagine what is meant by the offer of a holiday at the sea.  We are far too easily pleased.

It doesn't mean I can't enjoy the things of Earth.  It just means we shouldn't be so laser-focused on them, to the point that's all we think about.  That's kind of hard when you are trying to lose weight.  You have to think about what you are or are not eating and drinking A LOT.

All this thinking about how my body is compared to what I'd like it to be leaves me feeling pretty bad.  In the last 5 years, all the times I've tried to lose weight, I give up quickly because I got convinced it was too hard.  I was far too easily pleased with the way my body was - even if I was deep-down, truly ashamed of it.  So, I gave up.  I didn't change my diet or workout routine.  Really - I left my heart alone.  I didn't want to put in the effort of embracing that God has more for me than the mud pies.

My body, after baby #3 and being too heavy to start with, is not my favorite.  Yet, over the last 2 weeks, as I start to see my body change from the work, I've grown less and less ashamed of it.  It's nowhere near perfect or what it will be when I lose the 2 dress sizes I want to.  Yet, at the same time, I've grown to appreciate it.  Every time I thank the Lord for the strength and privilege to workout, especially when I don't want to, something shifts slightly.

My heart shifts, in minor ways, from desiring what my flesh wants.  When I involve my spirit in the things of the flesh, I'm strengthened.  It doesn't get any easier, but my will to do the things of my Father, gets stronger.  I start to crave the bread of life instead of the bread that only fills me up for time.  (And when I say bread, I mean bread, gelato, an extra helping, another drink, a coke, etc.)

I read this today from John 8 (the 2nd I AM statement is in verse 12) and the gong went off in my head: If you continue in My word, you really are My disciples.  You will know the truth, and the truth will set you free.

It is a remarkable realization that after all this time, I really can be changed inside and out.  I just have to keep sticking to Christ.  It's a multi-layered process and I like it.  My progression of faith keeps going.  After nearly 10 years, I don't see a way it will ever stop.  Deeper and deeper we go together, Christ and I.  Farther and farther we go forward together; on and on to greater freedom.

It's not about having to say no.  This journey is about saying yes to the truly good things - to the Truth, and being thankful for them.  I've got a ways to go - and yes, this is so much more a heart and mind journey than one of the body.  But I'm glad I'm on it.  I'm glad I'm striving for the good instead of trying not to step in the bad.

It's the still, small voice that directs my path.  He will get me there in subtle ways, but once there, I can look back and see just how many miles we've crossed together.

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