77. Eating My Idols

77. Eating My Idols

From Chicken Soup for the Soul: Shaping the New You

Eating My Idols

Prayer may not change things for you,
but it for sure changes you for things.
 ~Samuel M. Shoemaker

As I flipped through the pictures of my husband’s retirement ceremony, I cried. The woman in the photos didn’t even look like me. Over John’s 20 years in the Navy, I had gained and lost over 300 pounds. Sometimes it takes the objective view of a camera lens to make us realize how we truly appear to others. I masked this last gain of 60 pounds under oversized sweaters and baggy pants until the person smiling at me from the photographs was a stranger. As I contemplated which diet to try this time, God seemed to tell me it wasn’t only a diet I needed, but a change of heart as well.

The first step was to enroll in a diet center that concentrated not only on weight loss, but in teaching me how to cook and eat correctly. When I came home with my new food list, I broke into tears. I paid too much money to eat so little. I shook the offending paper in front of my bewildered husband.

“There’s no way I can do this! I don’t even like vegetables.”

John gave me a hug and reminded me he’d support whatever I decided, but we both knew I had to at least make a valiant attempt to stick to it. I went to bed depressed and set for failure.

The next morning I woke up and found a note card on top of my Bible. On it was a verse I had written the day before. “Be strong and courageous, and do the work. Do not be afraid or discouraged by the size of the task, for the Lord, my God, is with you. He will not fail you or forsake you. He will see to it that all the work related to the Temple of the Lord is finished correctly.” (1 Chr. 28:20 NLT.) I knew immediately that I was the temple of the Lord. Losing weight was more than a diet, it was a test. A test the Teacher would help me pass.

Through Bible study and prayer I realized how I had used food as an idol in my life. I’d heard the idea before, how anything we turn to instead of Christ is an idol, but now God gave me a clear vision of exactly how I glorified food. I might as well have carved out tiny statues and placed them in a shrine where I could worship them each day. A bag of potato chips represented my god of anger. A chocolate chip cookie symbolized my god of joy. Miniature idols of macaroni and cheese and pizza sat proudly on the altar of my heart and rejoiced each time I turned to them instead of the Lord. Every celebration came with cake. Doughnuts eased any disappointments. Only after I’d satisfied my food idols did I turn to the Lord in prayer. But our God is a jealous God, and he was no longer willing to take second place.

The Lord commanded, “You shall have no other gods before me.” Food had crept into my heart and pushed Him out. Not completely, but enough so I turned to its seductive satisfaction first, instead of trusting completely in God and his plan for me. Through prayer I learned to give even the smallest aspects of my life to God and deny food the opportunity to lead me astray. It hasn’t been easy. When the stress of work or raising teenagers overwhelms me I’m still tempted to turn to a bowl of ice cream for comfort. But even though I walk through the Valley of the Häagen-Dazs I know my God is with me. He longs to pick me up and set me back on His path again.

The journey to lose weight has been an amazing one. I feel like the Israelites being led out of Egypt, free after years of serving a foreign master. Physically, I lost over 40 pounds, started exercising regularly and even learned to like vegetables; but the spiritual results are far more rewarding. I feel God’s pleasure at my obedience to his will, and that is more satisfying than any mouthful of food has ever been.

~Kim Stokely

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