“My child, don’t reject the Lord’s discipline, and don’t be upset when he corrects you. For the Lord corrects those he loves, just as a father corrects a child in whom he delights.” Proverbs 3:11-12 (NLT)
Years ago, before I had children, I had a friend with a 3 year old son named Albert who she didn’t correct. I remember we would be talking on the sidewalk in front of a cafe, for example, and Albert would bolt down the street. If she even noticed, she would laugh and shrug it off. These kind of events happened all the time with her, but she never corrected him. She just let him be “who he was” and do what “he wanted to do.” Her experience was that if she corrected him he would throw a tantrum and she didn’t want him to be unhappy. So, she let him do whatever he wanted, even run off, trusting that he wouldn’t get far or that someone would bring him back to her.
One day we were at the beach with a large group of friends. Albert didn’t want to put on sunscreen or a life vest and was fussing hard about it. She didn’t want him to be uncomfortable so she let him off the hook and didn’t force it. After all, he wasn’t going in the water, right?
About a half hour later I heard her screaming his name. She was panicked, running up and down the beach. “ALBERT! ALBERT!!!” Lifeguards came, people were standing around staring at the surf, hands shielding their eyes to block the sun. Albert was missing. He had bolted, as usual, but this time in a very unsafe situation, and no one had brought him back to her…
God knows real life is like ocean waves. Sometimes life is kind, like gentle low rolling waves on a balmy beach day. Other times, life holds deadly traps that can be visible like a 10 foot wave or hidden like a riptide. God wants to us to enjoy the good days, but be prepared to survive impending danger. He knows that even if we complain about His training and are uncomfortable when he corrects us in the waters of life, he is going to prepare us to survive and thrive because he loves us. He will show us how to wear a life vest until we can swim, then teach us to swim even if the water is cold. He will show us how to be “water safe,” give us survival skills, and help us practice… even if we are scared and tired. He knows the reality of the ocean of life and he loves us too much to let us into the deep without proper preparation.
Food is like an ocean. There are times when food is easy and everything is fine. However, if we don’t know how to be around it, in it and use it properly and safely, food can destroy us. We need to learn to be be “food safe” in the sense that we know how to eat healthy food in healthy quantities no matter the conditions. Eating healthy food in healthy quantities takes practice! We can’t just show up to a buffet one day and expect that we won’t over-do it if we don’t have experience and practice under our belt. Experience that includes failure and God’s discipline and success and God’s rewards.
I always struggled with dieting and eating and when I was younger I never accepted God’s training with food, or even thought he cared about what I ate. It’s no surprise that when I got to college I didn’t look to God for help and, much like Albert running off at the beach, I bolted right into the bins of granola and bars of dessert trays without a life vest. It’s what I had always done, run into food with reckless abandon and no training, only this time the stakes were higher and the consequences all too real. There were no lifeguards to save me, no one screamed my name to warn me, I don’t know if I would have listened anyway. Forty pounds later, I showed up back at home, beaten down by the waves of food and all but drowned and defeated.
God didn’t let me stay there. He began to work with me on it as I slowly begin to ask him for help. You see, God would help me, but I had to learn that He wasn’t going to mess around when it came to saving my life. He also wasn’t going to teach me my own safety skills on the beach of life. He was going to teach me HIS safety skills on the beach of life, and I had to learn to trust in His process. It took me 20 years to fully submit to his discipline when it came to food. What changed? I got to the point where I had no other option but to do it his way because my way wasn’t working. When I did it my way, I ended up flailing and gasping for air every time I went into the waters of food until he pulled me out, half drowned in burritos and pasta, secretly hoping to recover quickly so I could go back for more. He waited patiently for me to let him be my lifeguard and teacher. When I was ready he stepped in and saved me, then trained me. Let me tell you, it felt like boot camp. God didn’t mess around. There were foods I needed to stop eating, habits I needed to change and emotions and hurts I needed to work out. It was going to be uncomfortable and even painful at times to learn how to survive the deadly waters of food in my life, but God was going show me how to do it so I could live.
It took about a year of hard core training with the Lord after I finally let him lead me. The people he put in my life, the tears, the failures and successes all helped me begin to feel strong and get lasting food survival basics down. Even now, about 5 years later, I am still in training, just learning different tactics. The stakes remain high and food still has the potential to take me out. I have to train with the Lord, because food riptides still lurk, and tsunamis come in the form of wedding buffets, vacations, holiday dinners with the family and tired nights alone at home. I can say without a doubt that the Lord has disciplined me and broken me. I can also say that the Lord has then taken me in his arms and restored my spirit and my body, and is making me stronger and more capable because of who he is, because he has taught me what to do, and because he never leaves my side. There were days I wished he would just go away and stop bugging me about food! Now I pray he will NEVER leave me because I never again want to face a wave of food without him, right there, holding me, teaching me, loving me and saving my life.
Albert was found running diaper deep in the surf. He was oblivious to the danger. Soon after, the family moved to another state and we don’t keep in touch. But I’ll never forget the day my friend almost lost her son Albert because she would rather he be comfortable than safe.
I’ve heard it said that “God cares more about our character than our comfort.” I think there is some truth to this, but I would adjust it to say that God cares about teaching us iron clad character so that we can live this life prepared and sure, knowing that whether we’re comfortable or not, low waves or high, we are prepared, we are practiced, and we know we are his.
“Blessed is the one whom God corrects; so do not despise the discipline of the Almighty. For he wounds, but he also binds up; he injures, but his hands also heal.” Job 5:17-18 (NIV)
Questions for reflection during your prayer time with the Lord:
- Our independence from God prevents him from helping us and training us. Are you insisting that your food and food behavior is independent of God? How?
- Have you asked God for help with your food in the past? What have you done? What has God done to help you? Is it possible to repeat this?
- Have you decided on a healthy food plan for you daily life? Have you brought God in on that decision?
- How is following that healthy food plan going for you? When is it easy? When does it get hard or impossible to follow? How can you bring God into all the moments and use his strength to get through the big waves of dangerous food?
- Read Hebrews 12:11 “No discipline seems pleasant at the time, but painful. Later on, however, it produces a harvest of righteousness and peace for those who have been trained by it.” (NIV) Pause and pray about this verse and see if there is anything The Lord has to say to you. Write it down.
- Ask God about any life vests, special tools or team members that may be beneficial to support your training with him. What tools can you add to your life that He is providing to help you with late nights, boring afternoons, special events, and difficult days for example? Write these down and begin to implement the ideas the Lord is giving you.
- GRAB HOLD OF GOD! When it comes to food and GO TO GOD FIRST. How? Pause and pray before you eat and ask for wisdom every time. Ask God to help you make healthy food choices, know when to eat, what to eat, and when to stop eating.
- Still think it’s too hard? It might be, for you, but it isn’t for God. Read and memorize Jeremiah 32:17 “O Sovereign LORD! You made the heavens and earth by your strong hand and powerful arm. Nothing is too hard for you!” (NLT)
Come back and share what God has done for you!
This is Day 13 in “Eating Through the Proverbs,” a Bible study about food, by Julia Fikse, Functional Medicine Health Coach ©2019.
The book of Proverbs contains wisdom that can be applied to all aspects of our lives. This verse isn’t limited in application to our food and health choices but it is useful for all of our life including how to care for our bodies.
Need more support? Contact me to see if personalized health coaching might be a good fit for you.
Julia Fikse is not a therapist or a doctor and this blog cannot and should not in any way replace doctors advice.
*Albert’s name has been changed and minor details altered to protect the identity of the family.