Have you ever heard of “the battle of the bulge”? No, not the battle during World War II, but the continual struggle that many have fought on a daily basis, and still continually fight. Of course, I am talking about a struggle with weight. I am veteran of many conflicts, and have lost more than I have won; and I still struggle with the desire to eat things that I shouldn’t. Those of you that have never engaged in this conflict, be very thankful!
In the mid-1980’s, when Malia and I were living in Winters, Texas, there was a period of time when I lost a lot of weight. Doug Taylor and I (and later Donald McMillon) went to a weight-loss physician in Lubbock, and I was successful in his program — for a while. I took the medication he said to take, ate the foods that he said to eat, and exercised. Lanny Bahlman and I would meet three mornings a week (at 5 in the morning), and go play racquetball. Many afternoons, Jerry Hood and I would go walk at the high school track. But another child came along (in both the Bahlman and Hooten homes), and the early morning racquetball was out of the question. The cold of winter set in, and the late afternoon walks were not very comfortable, and I soon abandoned them. Food still looked and tasted good, and over a period of a couple of years (and a move back to Arkansas), I gained all the weight back — and then some! Most everyone that struggles with a weight problem can identify, at one point or another in their life, with that story. Sadly, it is all too familiar.
The radical decision that I made this year, to have gastric bypass surgery, was not made on the basis of losing weight. It was made with the desire to be healthy, and to live longer. A lifetime of eating anything I wanted, as much of it as I wanted, and as fast as I could; leaves me with cravings that still have an impact on me. Even now after the surgery, after losing 90+ pounds, and no longer having Type 2 Diabetes, high blood pressure, high cholesterol, etc; I still find myself wanting foods that I know that I should not eat. The threat of another failure is real. We all have seen people that have had the surgery, and then gain the weight back — and I don’t want to do that!
You see, food offers what tastes good at the moment, at the expense of what is good for me and my health. The danger that I face is that I will begin to indulge in those foods (and amounts) that I shouldn’t, and nothing bad will happen. Blood sugar won’t spike, blood pressure will stay the same, and the weight won’t change — so you begin to think that you can do that more often. Then you will have those days, when you cheat on your food once; and think I have already blown it today, I might as well do it again (and I will do better tomorrow). Before you know it, you have not only lost the battle — but are losing the war. The only way to win, is to resist the urge and the temptation on a daily basis — no, on an hourly basis. You have to be determined to be victorious over your desires, and win this battle, and every one that comes your way. I’m not foolish enough to believe that I will, having already lost a couple, but I am determined to get back on the program (and that I have done) and not be caught in the same situation again! With the encouragement of family and friends, I KNOW that I will lose this last 15-18 to make my goal weight, and I WILL keep it off!
Over the years I have recognized that my struggle to control my weight, is very similar to my struggle to live for Jesus. Obviously, the big difference is that my victory in living for Jesus is not just dependent on me, and my strength, to resist the seduction of Satan and sin. But Scripture still says for us to …lay aside every weight and the sin that so easily ensnares us. (Hebrews 12:1, HCSB). The terminology is quite appropriate don’t you think?
This morning in my devotional reading, James says some things that made me think of all this. Think about these two readings:
…Don’t you know that friendship with the world is hostility toward God? So whoever wants to be the world’s friend becomes God’s enemy. (James 4:4, HCSB)
Therefore, submit to God. But resist the Devil, and he will flee from you. Draw near to God, and He will draw near to you. Cleanse your hands, sinners, and purify your hearts, double-minded people! Be miserable and mourn and weep. Your laughter must change to mourning and your joy to sorrow. Humble yourselves before the Lord, and He will exalt you. (Jame 4:7-10, HCSB)
I see within those words, the same struggle with sin that I have always had with my weight. They are both very seductive, both can offer immediate gratification and pleasure, and both can be destructive. For years, I have been using this definition of sin, doing what I want, instead of what God wants. There is a reason that one of the most powerful statements that Jesus ever made was (and is) …If anyone wants to be My follower, HE MUST DENY HIMSELF, take up his cross, and follow Me. (Mark 8:34, HCSB).
Obviously, I am not putting a struggle with weight on the same level as a struggle with sin. BUT, there are similarities with the struggles. Let’s recognize the danger, and be victorious in our struggle with sin. Peace.