Sunday, June 5, 2011

Discovering the "want to"

"If you want to be perfect (whole, complete, lacking in nothing) then go sell all your possessions and give to the poor, and you will have treasure in heaven. Then come and follow me."
Matthew 19:21

In Matthew 19, a rich young man comes to see Jesus and explains that he has been following all the rules (living according to God's commandments and being a good person) but still feels that something is missing from his pursuit of God. 

"All these I have kept," the young man said to Jesus. "What do I still lack?" Matthew 19:20

In other words, he was asking Jesus how could he really get close to God.

Jesus responded by telling him to sell all of his material belongings and give his money to the poor then come and follow after him. The rich man then goes away sad because he was very wealthy (19:21) and didn't want to give up the one thing that consumed him. He was so full with his riches that he couldn't see how malnourished, unsatisfied, and empty his soul was. 

He's just like people (such as myself) who refuse to eat a healthier breakfast (like egg whites and fruit) so they can fill themselves up with chocolate-frosted doughnuts instead. Even when their bodies regret it later and the guilt sets in, they still refuse to consider giving up the thing they crave and desire most. Why is that?

Lysa suggests it's because God made all of us with an inherent emptiness in our souls- a craving to be satisfied- that only He can fill.

The response Jesus gave to the rich man wasn't directed only for people who have a lot of money. You might be thinking already, "I'm glad I'm not rich and don't have this problem with loving money." Jesus meant this for any of us who wallow in whatever abundance we have (and boy, do we sure have an abundance of food in this country!). He calls all of us to give up the one thing we love and crave more than him in order to have more of him- in order to have what will truly satisfy and complete us so that we're not lacking anything.

If we want to gain, we must give up.
If we want to be filled, we must deny ourselves.
If we want to truly get close to God, we'll have to distance ourselves from other things.
If we want to be victorious over our cravings, we'll have to redirect them to God.

* All notes above from Lysa Terkeurst's "Made to Crave" book *

When it comes to my struggle with food (craving it over spending time with God and making it my satisfaction rather than Him) it's not that I don't know the "how to" for living a healthy lifestyle and losing weight. It's that I don't possess the "want to." Lysa talks about this in her book because she has struggled with the same dilemma. I've lost weight before. In fact, just two years ago I was very fit and healthy at my ideal body weight (or within 3 lbs of it) and felt great! What happened? My "want to" for being that way was wrong. My motivation was a number on a scale, to be a size 4, to look more attractive, and to impress my friends and family with my dramatic results. These incentives don't lead to long-lasting weight loss. I've realized that the only way I can be healthy and stay healthy is to be motivated by pleasing and glorifying God with my body. By adopting God's perspective of food in my life and relying on Him to be victorious over my temptations.

In order to be perfect (whole, complete, satisfied, lacking in nothing) I have to literally starve my flesh and feed my Spirit. It's uncomfortable and painfully difficult to deny your flesh. But I have to deny my carnal desires that I know won't make me happy in the long run, turn away from, and give up the thing I love more than God to follow after Christ.

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