Just yesterday, I received this email:
“Dr. Oz shares his secret! No diet or exercise and I still lost weight! You will not believe their transformations! ‘The Rapid Belly Melt for Every Body Type’ Burns fat from INSIDE the muscle!”
I get something like that in my inbox/spam folder/sidebar about once a day. Those, along with extreme and odd diets, cutting out this food group or tracking this particular nutrient. Have you browsed the plethora of diet books in the Health section of the book store lately? (Remember book stores?) There’s always a pill or powder with a promise to get quick results with little effort.
Years ago, Jon and I tried the Cabbage Soup Diet so we could “cleanse our systems.” We made this vat of horrible-smelling cabbage soup, and proceeded to severely restrict our food intake for a week. Things were going fine (I thought) until about day-three. I was upstairs and heard the beep-beep-beep of the microwave and the aroma of something that was NOT cabbage soup. I ran down the stairs, two steps at a time, and heard my husband running away. I raced into the kitchen and down to the basement. There I found Mr. Diet-Cheater cowering in the corner with his mouth full of pizza.
The strange thing is that we know more about nutrition and how the body metabolizes food than ever before in the history of mankind. With every new study comes a new twist on dieting. And with every new twist, we get fatter and sicker as a nation.
Why is that?
Maybe it’s because gimmicks don’t ever deliver what they promise. There is no “quick fix” to weight loss. Time and time again, as the hype of the latest diet fades into our distant memory, it comes to light (again) that those who attain and maintain a healthy weight do so the good old fashioned way: eating right and regular exercise.
No one wants that to really be true. We’re still holding out hope that someone will figure out a way for us to have hard bodies without lifting a finger, abs of steel while still enjoying our super-sized sodas.
Our human nature wants to do as little possible to get maximum results.
Many years ago I made a decision to make health and fitness a priority in my life. I don’t even know when or why. I just did. I had a great Mom who served well-balanced meals, but she was by no means a health nut. I guess I read some good books, liked the way I looked and felt when I implemented healthy habits, and it sort of took off from there.
And over the years, I’ve become increasingly more deliberate about what I allow myself to consume and not consume. Now that I’m in my mid-40s, I find that I can’t quite eat the way I did ten years ago.
(Brownies now take less than fifteen minutes to make it from my mouth to my thighs.)
(I’m thinking I may just save my digestive system the trouble and start packing them directly ON my butt.)
(I’m wondering at what point I’m going to have to stop eating food altogether and switch to a saline IV drip, because every calorie I eat clings to my body, like a frightened toddler.)
Many of us approach our relationship with God like the latest diet fad. We’re looking for the right formula, the quick tips, the checklist. Maybe if we have a certain person pray for us or go to hear this special speaker or attend this conference, that will work. Maybe if we read the book and participate in the “challenge.” Then we’ll be able to hear God clearly and know His will for our lives. Then we’ll have true intimacy with God.
If we’re honest with ourselves, most of us are trying to invest the least amount of time and effort into our relationship with God, but hoping for maximum results.
“God desires truth in our inmost parts. I have come to the conclusion that we will never have it accidentally. A truth-filled heart is so unnatural that we must pursue it to have it.” ~Beth Moore
Many years ago, I made a conscious decision to follow Christ. I was seventeen-years-old. In my cheerleader-hair spray-boyfriend world, I could not fathom the payoff of a crucified life. When I opened my Bible, it read like an encyclopedia to me. A great reference book. Useful but boring. Certainly nothing in which I’d be remotely interested in picking up for enjoyment. Prayer was awkward and inconvenient (what with all the football games to attend, and all).
I knew I wanted to go to Heaven, but I wasn’t so sure I really wanted God to be Lord of my life. I sort of liked being lord of my own life. And in my seventeen long years, things were going okay. Not great, but okay.
But something in me longed for more. I wanted to know my purpose. Why did God put me here, in this city, in this era, in this family? I wanted direction about college and boyfriends and jobs. I wanted strength to overcome my many sinful temptations. I needed healing for broken hearts and damaged emotions.
I needed to hear God. I needed to know God.
So I prayed for a desire. It started with a prayer. Nothing fancy. Nothing rehearsed. Simply, “Jesus, help me have a desire to pray and read your word. Help me understand what I read. Give me a heart that desires to serve you.”
And He did. He gave me a desire to pray. He placed in me a hunger for truth and then helped me understand the truth when I read it. The more of God I “got” the more of God I wanted. I began to really fall in love with My Savior. I had no idea it was even possible.
But guess what? There were no gimmicks. No short cuts. No easy way to intimacy.
I still had to carve out the time in my day to pray and read. I had to become deliberate about what I consumed spiritually. I had to exercise self-control regarding what I did, where I went and what I thought. As I learned more about holiness, I had to change some habits, cut off some relationships and rearrange my priorities.
And I still have to do those things all these years later.
Spiritual maturity and the ability to discern God’s voice only comes the good old-fashioned way: spending time getting to know Him through prayer and studying His word. For those of you who long to hear God’s voice but, quite frankly, don’t see the payoff or perhaps just don’t have the desire…might I suggest a simple prayer?
Jesus, please give me a desire to know you and to hear you. Give me a desire to pray and read your word. Help me understand what I read. Allow me to fall in love with You and Your Truth. In Jesus’ name.