Nearly two months ago, I wrote about my need to begin eating better on a more consistent basis. Since then, with a lot of help and encouragement from my nutritionist sister, I have established a sustainable, long-term eating plan full of satisfying, fulfilling options that do not cross the line into “temptation” territory.
I have had good success sticking to this new meal plan. (The foods pictured here are most definitely not on it!) Although it seemed extremely limited to me at first glance, there is quite a lot of variety possible within these confines, especially given the culinary artistry of my incredibly supportive and long-suffering wife.
This week, we made a trip to my folks’ house to look at some household goods, including food, they were getting rid of. We avoided taking anything that isn’t on my meal plan, but I did jump at the chance to get a few jars of raw almond butter. We don’t have this in our pantry because it is usually impossible to find in our area, at least not without added sugars or other unhealthy ingredients. At any rate, we brought three jars of it home.
I’ve already had to eliminate pistachios from my meal plan, even though they are all right for me to have. I’ve removed them because I find I am not able to enjoy them in moderation. They filled the void left by candy and other junk food, and I can (and usually do) eat far too many in one sitting. And now I will add raw almond butter to that very long list of things I just should not have in the house. God has been gracious to allow me to feel in my body the negative impact of my almond butter excesses right away, and, as He has been faithful, I will respond in kind and faithfully remove anything from my life to which I find myself turning for comfort in lieu of God Himself. (May it ever be so!)
Second Corinthians 1 is instructive here. (I am grateful to my friend and mentor, Bob Franklin, for pointing me to this passage.) It is clear from this text that God is the source of all comfort. In other words, there is no true comfort to be found apart from Him. My own experience shows me that there are many things I can find some temporary comfort in apart from God, but I have also learned from that same experience that these lesser comforts never last and always have negative consequences.
These temporary comforts are also self-centered. When I eat half a jar of almond butter in one sitting, no one else benefits. In fact, others are impacted negatively by my self-centered behavior as it begins to work out its harmful consequences in my body. (The wages of sin is, after all, death!) In contrast, we know His comfort by its distinctive hallmark of love: it is not solely for our own comforting that He consoles us; it is so that we can in turn comfort others in their suffering and together share in God’s comfort as His children. When His unassailable peace permeates us to our core, we cannot help but positively impact those around us out of the overflow of our abundance. When we have found true and lasting comfort in Him, we are able to point others to the source and help them get and stay connected for themselves.
Food is something I have consistently turned to for comfort instead of turning to God. It is an area I know I need to watch closely and remain on my guard against. In my vigilance in this area, I might inadvertently exclude some genuinely good things that I might have otherwise legitimately enjoyed. That is a risk that I have considered. I have counted that cost, and I am willing to pay it. As the Master says, “If you try to hang on to your life, you will lose it. But if you give up your life for my sake, you will save it. And what do you benefit if you gain the whole world but lose your own soul? Is anything worth more than your soul?” In light of this, what cost could possibly be too high? If I find no joy in food ever again in this life, and instead find joy unending in Him, what have I actually lost?
Yes, everything else is worthless when compared with the infinite value of knowing Christ Jesus my Lord. For his sake I have discarded everything else, counting it all as garbage, so that I could gain Christ and become one with him. I no longer count on my own righteousness through obeying the law; rather, I become righteous through faith in Christ. For God’s way of making us right with himself depends on faith. I want to know Christ and experience the mighty power that raised him from the dead. I want to suffer with him, sharing in his death, so that one way or another I will experience the resurrection from the dead!
I don’t mean to say that I have already achieved these things or that I have already reached perfection. But I press on to possess that perfection for which Christ Jesus first possessed me. No, dear brothers and sisters, I have not achieved it, 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.