This guest blog post was written by Lauren Varney, a participant in the current Faith and Health Ambassador Course. She captured her thoughts as a sort of journal as she was engaging with an assignment for Week 5 – “An Intimate and Right Relationship With God.” It appears below with her permission. Thanks Lauren!
God’s timing always amazes me. Since beginning my Faith and Health Ambassadorship training last month, God has been leading me to engage in some serious heart work in an area of my life that I have not surrendered to God –the area of caring for my body, the Holy Spirit’s temple. In fact, when I was given the assignment to review biblical principles and decide which relationship each principle most strongly supports (relationship with God, Self or Others), when I got to this principle the obvious check to me was “self.” I had an unsettled feeling when I checked that and felt the Holy Spirit challenge me to think and search and pray about this principle as it applies to my life. Over the last week the Lord has revealed to me some amazing truths, through His word, through sermons and writings founded on his word, and through people he has placed in my life, and I’d like to share some of what he’s taught me with you.
Some major questions need answering in my life. The first two are these – when it comes to taking care of my body, why do I so easily put off until tomorrow what I need to do today and why, at times in my life, does tomorrow never seem to come? My days can so easily be marked by a series of small defeats in this area, small clusters of sin that I just can’t seem to get over.
This is especially true in my desire to have self-control when it comes to eating my trigger foods. I have a tendency to binge on candy corn, oreos, chocolate, cake, etc., despite the many times I tell myself to resist or, at the very least, only have a small amount of these foods. And, of course, I can easily lose control of my healthy eating patterns in times of stress. In the area of nutrition I know all I need to know. I’ve learned it, I’ve applied it, I’ve taught it. I know the why behind my cravings and I know the negative impact my choices, over time, can have on my life, but it’s not enough to stop the behavior.
Here is what God has taught me as I’ve attempted to answer this question:
It’s a matter of my heart. Contrary to what I’ve always believed, caring for my body IS a key principle associated to living in a right and intimate relationship with God. I need to consider this FIRST.
Matthew Henry wrote this in his commentary of Exodus 8, which describes Pharoah’s repeated cycle of telling Moses he would let the people go, and then not following through.
“Tomorrow,” Pharoah said. Moses replied, “It will be as you say, so that you may know there is no one like the Lord our God.” (Exodus 8:10) Henry writes, “When Pharoah saw there was respite, he hardened his heart. Till the heart is renewed by the grace of God, the thoughts made by affliction do not abide; the convictions wear off, and the promises that were given are forgotten. Till the state of the air is changed, what thaws in the sun will freeze again in the shade.”
I am so thankful that God is in the business of changing the state of my air, for that is what I have needed.
Here is my new heart position, and it stems from a few verses I committed to memory, but not to heart, long ago:
“For we are God’s masterpiece. He has created us anew in Christ Jesus, so we can do the good things he planned for us long ago.” Ephesians 2:10
“Don’t you realize that your body is the temple of the Holy Spirit, who lives in you and was given to you by God? You do not belong to yourself, for God bought you with a high price. So you must honor God with your body. 1 Cor 6:19 – NLT
“And so, dear brothers and sisters, I plead with you to give your bodies to God because of all he has done for you. Let them be a living and holy sacrifice – the kind he will find acceptable. This is truly the way to worship him.” Romans 12:1-2 – NLT
As I consider my physical health, I now see my decisions and goals not in light of any desired end for myself (better figure, ward off diabetes and heart disease, lessen stress, etc.) but a beginning with God. So many people think that the ‘spiritual’ thing to do is to care for our spirit and soul and not our body. I used to be one of those people. But I now truly understand that God is interested in my body. 1 Thess 5:23 says, “may your whole spirit, soul and body be kept blameless at the coming of our Lord Jesus Christ”.
I am not my own. I am God’s, bought at great price because of his incomparably great love for me. I am loved and desire to live like I’m loved, offering my body, and honoring God with this temple of ME. It is my spiritual act of worship.
I want to worship the Lord in my spirit, soul and body.
I love what Henry Blackaby says in his devotion on True Worship. “Worship is an intimate and vital encounter with a Person. True worship includes the full recognition of who God is: Holy Sovereign, Almighty, Loving, Merciful. This recognition brings about the realization of our own sinfulness. True worship is life-changing! It creates within the worshiper’s heart a hatred for sin. True worship results in repentance, obedient submission and a desire for holiness.”
Here is my prayer:
Lord, thank You for giving me my life. Thank You for revealing to my heart your love, your commands and your purposes, and for helping me to see that You desire that all of my decisions regarding my body, your temple, start with my relationship with you. Thank You for your grace and for your willingness to become sin for me so that I might become the righteousness of God in You. Forgive me for making my physical health all about me and for the many ways my selfishness has led to sinful choices. As your Word says,
“But if you have doubts about whether or not you should eat something, you are sinning if you go ahead and do it. For you are not following your convictions. If you do anything you believe is not right, you are sinning.” (Romans 14:23)
I turn from my selfish goals and my selfish ways. Instead of worshipping self in my thoughts, goals and actions I desire to put YOU on every day and to live – soul, spirit and body – in humble submission to You. Convict me when I attempt to put You in the passenger seat of my life. When I see the enemy on the road before me, help me to stop and invite You in, remembering that as I acknowledge You, You will direct my path and will help me to row away from the rocks in my life. Help me to receive deep into my soul and my spirit a greater understanding of who You are, and who I am in YOU, so that I can increasingly align my life with your will and live a way that brings glory to You. For it is You who works in me to give me that desire and the power to do what pleases You. Instill in my life a proper reverence for You. I know that as a man thinks in his heart, so is he. (Proverbs 23:7 – KJV) Keep changing my heart, Lord.
You (God) satisfy me more than the richest of foods. Psalm 63:5
Everything is allowed but not everything is helpful. Everything is allowed but not everything helps us grow stronger. 1 Cor 10:23
For it is God who is working in you giving you the desire and the power to do what pleases him. Phil 2:3
But I focus on this one thing: forgetting the past and looking forward to what lies ahead, I press on to reach the end of the race and receive the heavenly prize for which God, through Christ Jesus, is calling us. Phil 3:13-14
Taste and see that the Lord is good. Psalm 34:8
Do you struggle with changing a health-related behavior? Has reading this blog post made you aware of your tendency to be selfish in how eat what you want – out of your selfish ways – instead of eating to care for your body, the temple of the Holy Spirit?
I encourage you to say a prayer to God, from deep within your spirit, as Lauren did and allow God to work in your heart and in your mind and in your behavior.
Have a blessed day, in Christ Jesus!
Blog Posts Related to Behavior Change
Blog Post – God Cares for Your Body
Blog Post – 5 Reasons Why God Wants You Healthy, Well and Fit
More health counsels from thebLord: “Cease to be idle; cease to be unclean; cease to find fault one with another; cease to sleep longer than is needful; retire to thy bed early, that ye may not be weary; arise early, that your bodies and your minds may be invigorated.” (Doctrine & Covenants 88:124)