We have a holiday called Fat Tuesday. And on this day we eat a pastry that has more calories than a Big Mac. A donut that is more fattening that a hamburger.
Now, I have an odd relationship with food. I love it. It like to cook it for my friends. I enjoy eating it with said friends. I like to buy it, eat it, and experiment with it. It is a gift I enjoy. I am grateful to God for the variety and the ecstasy that is world cuisine. And over most of my life, I have been so good at feasting that something sinister happened. The gift received the glory. Instead of food being a gift to be enjoyed, it became a god to be served. Every meal was special and therefore allowed me to splurge in some way. Should I order a burrito or a quesadilla… guess I better order both!
This is very common in a land of plenty like our own. And this unhealthy adoration of food has brought with it an unhealthy lifestyle. For years, I didn’t care what my worship of food did to my waistline. I thought life was to short to deny myself anything. If there was a craving, I let it ride. I gave it what it wanted. Like pagans of old, I sung the adage ‘Food for the belly and the belly for food.”
The thing about being a slave is the absence of joy. Where once the gift brought sustenance and satisfaction, time and indulgence brings regret and even shame. Why do I eat so much every meal? Why do I have to stop at the fast food store when I know I don’t have the money?
Last year, I lost 75 pounds. And it feels great. But within 4 months, I have found 25 of those pounds back. I have come to realize that I cannot sustain some diet or program forever. What needs to change is my perception of reality. I need to be free to enjoy food and not serve food. I have to understand what it is and isn’t.
Food is not my god. Eating is not the purpose of my life. The greatest joy is not my favorite meal made just right. I have to find my joy and purpose and identity and life in Christ. I have to actually experience the truth Christ shared when he said, “Man shall not live by bread alone.” I am more than skin and bone. I am more than appetite and desire.
So… that is observation…how do I turn the ship. I have a few things I have brought into my life recently to kill this little god.
1) Fasting. Fasting from food is feasting on God. This is telling the flesh that it does not rule, and learning to find nourishment for life in the soul. There is much to be said on this, and some day I will. But if you are interested in fasting, may I recommend Richard Foster’s “Celebration of Discipline.” His chapter on fasting is very helpful.
2) Prayer before eating. This sounds so dumb. But I have been actually thanking God for the food before me at meals. It stops me from just shoveling it all in my mouth. It forces me to actually see this as a gift. And I want to appreciate the gift. I don’t want to abuse the gift. It is hard to thank God for being a glutton. So I force myself to face it alongside the Lord.
3) Daily weigh in. This forces me to look at the effects of gluttony. This is staring the effects of sin directly in the face. If I choose to worship at the alter of the golden arches, my heart and body and belt will suffer. This is a reality check. Now, this is not about weight loss. The goal of my life is not to be a physical specimen. But the gaining of weight in my life is a symptom of my lack of discipline. So I am now watching it so I know what is happening.
"Lord, thank you for your kind gifts. May we love the giver of the gifts more than the gifts of the giver. Let us draw near your person, not your stuff. Amen."