A few weeks ago I went to a different party. I took my healthy food contribution which stuck out like a sore thumb compared to all the other delectable items. All of my favorites were there: sausage balls, cheese dip, spinach artichoke dip (hot and cold varieties), hot ham and cheese sandwiches with buttery mustard topping...okay I'll stop. But you get the idea!?
I went in there thinking I got this and left thinking I SO don't "got this." You know the term falling off the wagon? Well, I actually jumped off head first and dove into the stone cold ground of gorging. Ouch. (literally--I was up most of the night. Ugh.) That jump, which would have been a catalyst for giving up in the past, was just a brief albeit painful reminder that I am what I am by the grace of God. I have not arrived. And I need those reminders.
I should not be surprised because I have already established that the thorn in my side will probably always be an inclination toward over-eating. That is a far better than what I used to think my thorn was! <---One of my all time favorite posts.
But it's still a pesky thorn and it is ever before me. (Psalm 51:3) I'm not sure why I think I'm going to wake up one day and just be done with it. God has already assured me that His grace is sufficient. God is in the restoration business. That's WHO He is. I just need to accept it happens on his timetable, not mine.
Now, back to last night's party. It went great! Safe and secure inside the wagon all night long! I had a HUGE salad on the way to the party. The Lord had provided this for me (my "way out" 1 Corinthians 10:13) just about an hour before we left. My mom had leftovers from a luncheon and brought the beautiful veggie-ful salad to me. I ate it on the way and then when I got there, I focused on people.
I realized that it would have been difficult for me to focus on people a year ago because I was so self-conscious. I wouldn't be able to strike up a conversation for lack of confidence. I would have been focused on my own awkwardness and discomfort. I'm sure my jeans would have been too tight. I would have wanted to sit down and hide away but the waist band would be cutting into my skin so I would be forced to stand. I would be thinking that every one was looking at how gross I was. I would have ended up doing the thing that has always been able to take my mind off of all those things--eat.
My clothes fit. The jeans (size 10 , lest you forget) were even a tad bit loose! It was easy to sit down. It was easy to focus on others because I wasn't focused on myself. I was even able to eat a single mini cupcake and a single chicken fajita. And to see the Lord's hand in all of this just brings an overflow of gratitude and joy from my heart. Why would I want to take my mind off of that!?
Now, I have to leave you with this powerful Tullian Tchividjian post from January 22 about Slavery and Freedom...
“In my book Surprised by Grace: God’s Relentless Pursuit of Rebels, I make the point that ‘those who cling to worthless idols forfeit the grace that could be theirs’ (Jonah 2:8). In other words, when we depend on anything smaller than Jesus for justification, love, mercy, cleansing, a new beginning, approval, acceptance, righteousness, and rescue we consign ourselves to ‘the restless futility of bewilderment’ because nothing and no one but Jesus can provide those things we long for most.
I close the book with a story from Civil War days before America’s slaves were freed, about a northerner who went to a slave auction and purchased a young slave girl. As they walked away from the auction, the man turned to the girl and told her, ‘You’re free.’
With amazement she responded, ‘You mean, I’m free to do whatever I want?’
‘Yes,’ he said.
‘And to say whatever I want to say?’
‘And to be whatever I want to be?’
‘And even go wherever I want to go?’
‘Yes,’ he answered with a smile. ‘You’re free to go wherever you’d like.’
She looked at him intently and replied, ‘Then I will go with you.’
Jesus has come to the slave market. He came to us there because we could not go to him. He came and purchased us with his blood so we would no longer be a slave to sin but a slave to Christ—which is the essence of freedom. And now there’s no freer place to be in life than going with him—with the one who is himself our true liberty.
Remember: In the person of Jesus Christ, God came into this world, not to strip away our freedom, but to strip away our slavery to self so that we could be truly free.”
I always thought a healthy lifestyle would strip away something that I cherished in my life--food. And so I resisted it. I I ran from that lifestyle, just as I have run from the grace of God for much of my life. I have run from a list of do's and don'ts that I knew I would never be able to keep up with, on both accounts. When a person like me thinks there is no way to be perfect at something, it is natural to just run (or sit, as the case may be).
We need to realize this very important thing: We CAN'T be perfect. There, the pressure is gone! Perfection is an impossibility; it's off the table. Now, there are boundaries, guidelines, restrictions and requirements to be found on the pathway to health as well as the pathway to Christ. But they are not to be grasped, rather to be reached for. I surrender to reaching along the path of righteousness. Yeah, I guess you could say I'm a slave.
But make no mistake--I. AM. FREE.
I am using an example from everyday life because of your human limitations. Just as you used to offer yourselves as slaves to impurity and to ever-increasing wickedness, so now offer yourselves as slaves to righteousness leading to holiness. When you were slaves to sin, you were free from the control of righteousness. What benefit did you reap at that time from the things you are now ashamed of? Those things result in death! But now that you have been set free from sin and have become slaves of God, the benefit you reap leads to holiness, and the result is eternal life. For the wages of sin is death, but the gift of God is eternal life in Christ Jesus our Lord.