For most of my life I had struggled with a love for food. I remember being a teenager and buying several Mars bars and going into the school bathroom to hide while I ate them. I knew that eating Mars bars was not wrong and no one would condemn me for eating them. It was how many I ate and how badly I wanted them that was the problem. I had certain friends that I could eat with who did not mind me pounding back a huge bag of chips, old-fashioned donuts, and chocolate. In fact, they were happy to enjoy those treats with me. But I often felt guilty or uncomfortable with myself after.
For years, I would be confused when I would offer people a brownie or some other snack and they would say, “No, thank you. I’m not hungry.” I can honestly remember the day I thought “What does that have to do with anything?” It did not matter to me if I was hungry or not. It was the pleasure, enjoyment, and satisfaction that food offered that drew me, not the hunger. My weight would go up and down. I spent a great deal of time thinking about food—planning what I was going to eat, longing for food, and thinking of my next meal. This continued for years.
I began to experiment with bulimia, making myself sick after eating to get rid of the food—but I felt terrible after doing this, too. It was at this point I began to sense something was wrong. I remember praying and asking God for help but did not sense any freedom. I phoned my father and confessed what was happening. He prayed with me, but again I did not sense any freedom. It was as if there was a noose around my neck, not tight enough to choke the life out of me, but tight enough that I could not get free.
I had always enjoyed God’s presence and my prayer times were filled with joy, love, and tears that came in intimate and close moments. What moved His heart moved mine and I enjoyed Him. But I had hit a wall and I could not grow closer to Him. It was as though my prayers went up to heaven, hit a brass ceiling, and fell back to the earth. I couldn’t understand what was happening and found myself continually questioning God.
As my questioning continued, I decided to go down to the local Christian bookstore. I enjoyed the sense of God’s presence that rested in the store as I wandered through the aisles. I found a book for a friend that was going through a devastating time. But beside that book was another book by John Bevere . I pulled the book off the shelf and flipped it over to read the back cover, only to find the question: “Do the heavens feel like brass?” It was the exact phrase that had been filling my mind! I quickly paid for the book with the expectation that through its pages God would reveal the mystery of His distance.
That night I took my book to bed and began to read. After only a few pages the Lord released an understanding into my mind and my heart. His distance was because of my love for food. I had no idea the two were related! I had wounded Him and myself, and the realization made me cry. My heart agreed with His word. I repented and confessed to God with a complete brokenness, “I love food more than You.” I rolled onto my side, wept, and fell asleep.
It was three days before I realized there had been a change: I had not thought about food for three days. I had a new clarity and quietness of mind. I had only eaten when I was hungry and stopped when I was full. By the time Sunday rolled around, as I dressed for church, I realized I had already lost weight and it had not even been on my mind. A new joy welled up inside me. My love for Jesus had returned and we were in great communication. The joy was so vast that I stood up to testify at church what God had done in my life. The joy of Jesus’ love went through our congregation with celebration. Within two-and-a-half months, I lost fifty pounds.
Some may call that much weight loss in such little time unhealthy, but I simply ate when my body called for fuel and stopped when I felt the first bite or two of fullness. This is God’s glorious mechanism for the human body to manage and fuel itself. God builds everything well, including the human body. His yoke was easy for me, and His burden was light. The truth is simple, but people complicate it with divided loyalties; they don’t see the benefit of living in the truth when they want something else more. My heart had been divided, my loyalty split between God and food. But God healed my divided heart and brought me to victory through repentance and eating His way.
Indulgence in the flesh begins after the point of “enough.” It will start small and seem harmless at first but will begin to divide your heart just a little. But Jesus is not content to have part of your heart. He wants your whole heart and will pursue it. Satan knows He needs only a bit to divide and compromise your faith and create doubt in God, which could prevent you from fulfilling your God-given assignments with peace, confidence and joy.
Love and Adultery
The Lord has given all of Himself in an unfathomable way. He withheld nothing, including His Son, who also holds nothing back from those He loves. When a person enters a relationship with Jesus, he or she enters a relationship with someone whose love cannot be measured because it is eternal. The one who loves more is wounded more when that love is shared with an outside third party. I was looking to a third party named “food” for fulfillment, pleasure, joy, and satisfaction—the definition of adultery. Like Eve, I had been tempted with the promise of something I already had, and away from pure and simple devotion to Christ. However, only in God’s presence did I find fullness of joy.
The Word of God works the same for believers today as it did with Jesus in the first century. Satan may tempt a person to enjoy one more helping of food, one extra glass of wine, or one little look at that good-looking person. He may entice someone to view just a little bit of sex, take that pain killer to relax, or spend extra time sleeping beyond what is needed. He will lure people to make a little more money or tell a small lie to reach a goal. He will even use things like video streaming services and social media to lure people into laziness.
Satan’s best tactic is making a person think something is good and will satisfy his or her desires. In reality, God says:
Do not be deceived, my beloved brethren. Every good gift and every perfect gift is from above, and comes down from the Father of lights, with whom there is no variation or shadow of turning.— James 1:16-17, ESV
Resist the lies of the enemy. God’s plan and the joy of peace that comes from trusting Him are better than anything Satan can offer. Satan’s lies are insidious traps constructed to sabotage every incredible opportunity God gives you to be an answer to the lost people in this world.
God is Ready to Unite Your Heart
One day I was listening to the Lord and He told me something: “Would I have crucified my Son if I did not truly want to forgive and restore my children? Was I only half-hearted in my desire and my decision? Yet my children are afraid to come. They think I won’t want to forgive them, that they must wrestle it out of me. I delight to forgive them and renew a right and steadfast spirit within them.”
Perhaps, like my experience with food, you can no longer continue down the path of sin. Your Savior is mighty to save; He came to destroy the works of the devil (1 John 3:18). If it’s tough right now, you are a perfect candidate for the goodness of God in Jesus Christ and the power of the Holy Spirit to break that loyalty to the lust of the flesh in your life. The Holy Spirit is with you, ready to highlight sin to confess. Let Him come and speak,unite your heart and make it one again. He takes no pleasure in making you feel condemned or miserable and unworthy. Rather, God’s Word says He will restore your soul and will lead you in paths of righteousness for His name’s sake (Psalm 23:3). He longs to forgive . . . forgiveness is who He is.
You are here to change the landscape of this world to match the landscape of heaven—and there is no greater joy in life! However, it will take undivided faith from an undivided heart to jump into the unknown. If you are ready to jump, know that in the invisible spiritual realm, the arms of your trustworthy Father are waiting to catch you as you believe with a fidelity. Do not share your heart with His enemy. Keep it for Jesus alone. Wholeheartedly His!
Reflect with the Holy Spirit
- Lord, how are You pursuing my whole heart right now?
- How is the enemy pursuing even a small bit of my heart?
- What words or sword of the Spirit do I need to use to cut off the second head?
- When I cut off the second head, what does this do to Your heart as my God and my first love?
Next week we are talking about stability! You can have the best of intentions in remaining steadfast in the Lord, but whether you are able to stand firm or not depends on what you are standing on and its stability. Standing on a surfboard in the middle of the Pacific Ocean with waves swelling up and down will make standing firm more difficult. Conversely, standing on the Great Wall of China in a windstorm will not be a problem. What is the difference? The stability of what you are standing on. Will it be the pride of life, fear of man and navigating that ocean? Or the stability of Christ and His God-ordained mission and opinion of you? Stay tuned!
This teaching devotional is part of a series based on Tyrelle Smith's book: From Double-Minded To Destiny. Each week we will publish more on how you can remove doubts and insecurities and fulfill God's plan for your life in a greater way.