Severe Mercy

My relationship with food is largely adversarial. Because I believe that God created all things good and my body is part of that good creation — not to mention a temple of His Holy Spirit! — I believe it is important for me to care for it as best I know how. I believe proper nutrition is a key factor in that equation. In fact, I will go so far as to say that I believe I have been given direct guidance on what sort of dietary lifestyle I need to maintain for the needs of my particular body chemistry.

Sadly, these beliefs often lie dormant. I have a dreadful sweet tooth, and sugar and other sweet treats have been a routine weakness of mine for many years. I entered adulthood by gaining twenty pounds eating day-old donuts by the bagful at my graveyard-shift job at 7-11, establishing for myself a destructive pattern. When my excess weight grows unbearable to me, I’ll go on an extreme fast of some sort or another, only to revert back to my default routine of eating out too often and consuming far too many sugary snacks.

A few years ago, the following phrase started going through my mind, over and over again: “No sugar, no fast food, nothing processed.” From all my study of food and trouble with it over the years, I knew right away that this was the direction I needed to head in. But it seemed an impossible task! I have chipped away at this three-pronged goal on-and-off for a while now — mostly off, I’m sad to say — and I’m still not where I want to be with this.

This week, I have developed some serious food-related physical symptoms, of which I will spare you the horrifying details. Suffice it to say that there is some precedent for this in my family, so these results are not completely unexpected given my wanton disregard for the path I know I need to be following.

And so now I face once again the choice of whom I will serve and obey: my stomach or my God? I am reminded of Chesterton: “Christianity has not been tried and found wanting; it has been found difficult and not tried.” Despite my frequent lapses in this area, God is still cheering me on toward His best for me. His mercy truly is renewed on a daily basis.

This time around, though, His mercy is more severe. The stakes now are a little bit higher. Certainly nowhere near “life and death”, but somewhat closer to “carefree and agonizing”. Perhaps, for me, this is what it will take to help move me into more consistent obedience in this area.

I pray I will choose wisely, one mouthful at a time.

Jeff Herron

Homeschooling dad of two boys. Husband of one terrific woman. Disciple of and disciple maker for Jesus. My cup runneth over!

5 thoughts on “Severe Mercy

  1. I struggle with this as well. When we Christians want criticize alcohol and nictotine, we really should include our coffee/ice cream/chips habit in the mix and thus reveal to ourselves how we really feel about it. A friend of mine gave me this bit of wisdom the other day, and it’s become a mantra of sorts for me: I can only find true pleasure by denying myself for God and others. Faith is believing this is true before I see the fruit of my obedience.

    1. Dave H., thanks for sharing your friend’s wisdom. It echoes Christ’s instruction for any would-be disciple of His, in which self-denial plays an important part (Luke 9). As I grow up spiritually, I am finding this to be true, and the Way of Jesus to be the only path that leads to real life. I am so glad we’re on that journey together!

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