Since I have last written I have discovered what it is to be full and completely satisfied. It wasn’t an automatic overnight change, or tremendous breakthrough and deliverance. It was the daily surrender and renewal of my mind. Laying down my life, wants, desires, and goals for Jesus’. Allowing Him to literally change my mind and heart when it comes to food and fitness. Surrendering control and letting God tell me what to do, and how to think when it comes to food and my body.
God told me food had become my refuge and reward. My refuge and reward. Let that one sink in. He is supposed to be my refuge. Jesus is my inheritance and reward. How had I let something so fleeting become my refuge and reward?
-shelter or protection from danger, trouble, etc.: to take refuge from a storm.
-a place of shelter, protection, or safety.
-anything to which one has recourse for aid, relief, or escape.
Aid. Relief. Escape. I had made food all these things. I had erected an idol in fitness, food, and external beauty—all rolled up, entangled and entwined with each other. On one particular day, I was especially struggling with things from my past haunting and wrecking my present. Headed for the cupboard, God spoke this verse to my heart.
“When you cry out for help, let your collection of idols save you! The wind will carry them off, a mere breath will blow them away.” –Isaiah 57:13a
The cookies in the cupboard wouldn’t save me. Exercising, working out, and being thin wouldn’t save me. None of it mattered. Only Jesus can save. Only Jesus can redeem. Only Jesus can resolve the deepest issues and longings of my heart. Only Jesus can cover past sins. Only Jesus. Just Jesus. Him and Him alone.
So why did I invest in these idols when I know only Jesus can save? I had to stop worshiping them. I had to stop bowing down before the Cabinet and Refrigerator. I had to stop sacrificing my time, emotions, and thought life on the altar of Thin. I had to stop being compulsively dragged around by my flesh to places where Food or Fitness reigned. I had to stop letting Food and Fitness be my refuge and make Jesus Christ my ONLY refuge. Make Him the only place I ran. Because it is very easy to drop one habit and pick up another. You can stop turning to food as your refuge, but if you fill that void with a TV show or book you are no better off. You are still feeding on things of this world instead of on Jesus. You are still running to other comforts for aid, relief, and escape instead of to Jesus.
So when God told me I had made food my refuge and reward, my insides curled and I fell down before Him. I couldn’t believe I had let something so base become my god.
“Their destiny is destruction, their god is their stomach, and their glory is in their shame.” –Philippians 3:19
“See that no one is sexually immoral, or is godless like Esau, who for a single meal sold his inheritance rights as the oldest son.” –Hebrews 12:16
I then did a word study (they are quite helpful and a useful tool I use often. I Google “verses on…” whatever topic I am struggling with and read all the verses) on God being my refuge. I picked the top three and made them my background on my phone.
“But as for me, it is good to be near God. I have made the Sovereign Lord my refuge; I will tell of all your deeds.” –Psalm 73:28
“I will say to the Lord, ‘My refuge and my fortress, my God in whom I trust.’” –Psalm 91:2
“You are my refuge and my shield; I have put my hope in your word.” –Psalm 119:114
I did—and still do—meditate on them when I’m tempted to run to anything besides Jesus. There is power in the word of God. The Sword of the Spirit IS the word of God. Not using the Word is like having a sword in its sheathe in the midst of battle. What good will it do you there? Upon every temptation Satan spewed, Jesus replied with, “It is written…”. The Son of God Himself relied on the written word of God. I must do the same.
God also made me aware of self-control. I have a strong mind and possess great amounts of self-control in other areas of my life, so why not this one as well? Upon realizing this I couldn’t believe I had bought into the lie that I don’t have self-control. Self-control is a fruit of the Spirit and I have the Holy Spirit living inside of me. So I have access to an unlimited supply of self-control at any given time. I just hadn’t exercised it. I’ve exercised it in many other areas before, so it wasn’t a weak or brand new muscle for me, I just wasn’t applying it here.
Something else God had to renew and change my mind on was what it meant to eat healthy; both in amount and the food itself. I had avoided fat for almost half my life and cyclically restricted until I was starving and self-control was out the window. I started asking God what healthy foods are and what I should eat. I reintroduced healthy fats and larger quantities of protein into my life. I realized I was eating less and feeling fuller. To be honest I didn’t like this at first because it meant I couldn’t eat as much in volume as I had before. At the same time, I also associated the feeling of full with shame. (Very confusing I know). Because food had become my escape, I enjoyed being able to eat a little of lots of different things. I wanted to eat a lot, and not feel full. My meals consisted of multiple snacks instead of one balanced meal. In actuality, I was eating too much, felt full, shame, and still unsatisfied. I now completely enjoy eating less and feeling full. Not just full physically, but spiritually.
The second part of Isaiah 57:13 says, “But whoever takes refuge in Me will inherit the land and possess My holy mountain.”
The issue wasn’t actually the food itself, it was my heart. I had made food my refuge and Jesus wanted to change that. I had made being thin my idol and pursuit in life, and Jesus wanted to change that. He wanted to change the desires of my heart. Because you see, what He is after is our hearts, not our actions. Our actions flow from our hearts. Jesus wanted to do surgery and give me a heart transplant in this area. A totally and completely brand new heart with brand new desires. One that seeks justice, loves mercy, and walks humbly with my God. A pure heart. A heart that loves righteousness and the things of God. He wasn’t after the food, He wanted the fidelity.
I have been praying that God would give me an undivided and obedient heart. That I would hear Him like I’ve never heard Him before. The root of the word obey in Hebrew literally means to “hear” or “listen” implying that as soon as you hear you obey. That hearing the voice of God initiates action in you. I want to hear and obey God like I never have before. When He speaks to me I don’t want to silence His voice and wander in disobedience for however long it takes me to realize that obeying God is better. Because He never asks me to do anything that isn’t for my own good and His glory. As for God, His way is perfect. His way is the best way always. I want to live this in every area of my life and have expedience in obedience. A pure and undivided heart. Wholly devoted unto the Lord. That is my prayer. That is my heart’s cry. That is where ultimate joy, peace, and freedom are found.
“Truly my soul finds rest in God; my salvation comes from him. Truly he is my rock and my salvation; he is my fortress, I will never be shaken.” –Psalm 62:1-2
Jesus is my Refuge and my Reward. I am full…and completely satisfied.