I shared my thoughts on the first few pages of chapter six in Made to Crave 11: (guilt and shame). I can’t stand the thought of not finishing that chapter because it is full of encouragement and practical ways to overcome these food issues.
In the Personal Reflections section I was asked my response to the idea that we grow closer to God when we deny ourselves something that is permissible but not beneficial. On June 21st, when I first read this, I wrote that I hadn’t really had much experience with this, but to come back to the question later. It’s later. Exactly two months later, in fact. I have now had experience with this. Last night, for example, I made coffee after dinner. I had plenty of excess calories to “spend” and coffee really just sounded good. (I had every intention of taking it to my bedroom where our little AC was on FULL BLAST so I could enjoy my treat to the fullest.) I took a sip of it and it was delectable. Perfect. But then I felt a nudge from the Spirit that told me it was not beneficial. Permissible, yes. He would not be mad at me for drinking the coffee. I don’t think I would have felt shame and guilt had I enjoyed my cup of coffee… I might have been wide awake at midnight, but I don’t think the point of this exercise was to see if I would obey. I believe He really just wanted me to have the chance to obey with grace.
I had a similar experience with Carson yesterday. He had swept the dining room and missed a corner. I reminded him to get that corner before he put the broom away, but he forgot. When I pointed it out to him, instead of yelling and saying, “oKAY!” he simply said, “Oh… yeah…” and turned around to finish his job.
When I reminded him to do his job, I wasn’t sitting there with ill intent to see how he would react. There are times Carson will get a little ‘tude with me and we then have to correct the job and the attitude, but I was pleased that he obeyed me with grace. Last night, when I poured my perfectly good coffee out, I believe God was pleased that I obeyed Him with grace. I went to bed and fell asleep within minutes, a gift I may not have received were I full of late-night caffeine.
In the past two months last night’s wasting perfectly good coffee was not the only time I have had experience with denying myself something that is permissible but not beneficial and I do believe it is helping me grow closer to God. I am learning to recognize His still small voice and to obey with grace. Lest you think I’m running this race with perfection, I believe I have ignored that voice more often than I’ve listened, but I’m trying to work on this. I just happened to have a recent example of me doing the right thing to share.
I love the second question in this reflections section! “Are there areas of life in which you experience self-control and feel that your self-discipline and wise choices honor God?” I love this because, while reading this book I’m taking a good, hard look at the areas of life in which I’ve failed miserably at this. Taking a moment to look at the areas in which I am winning in reminds me that if I can surrender those areas to Him and receive His blessing and peace as a result, then surrendering my life in regards to food can help me to receive even more of His blessing and peace.
My answer is that I am succeeding in a few areas: In having a sit-down family meal at least six nights a week; in protecting our schedule, as I wrote yesterday, and in our finances. Oh, how I’ve learned to deny myself things I want in the area of finances. Even inexpensive things! For example: I really want a 2-gallon pitcher that will sit on the shelf in my fridge and the boys can press a button to get cold water. The problem with that is it costs $10 and I’d have to have it shipped here, because I can’t find one in the stores. I don’t want to spend the money on that even though it’s less than $20! I’ve found self control and greatly appreciate how God has blessed us as a result. SO…. with that said, I want to develop self-control (Galatians 5:22) in regards to food … and I’m sure there are physical blessings (health, weight loss, greater endurance) that will be fantastic, but I’m more excited about the closeness I’ll experience with Him as a result of being in tune with His will.
I wrote the above between 6:00-7:00 this morning. At 8:25 our family had devotion time and this is what it was on: the fruit of the Sprit… including self-control. I can’t make this stuff up! This is really how God speaks to me most clearly… when He says the same thing to me in multiple places over a short period of time. (See here and here for other times I’ve shared this.)
The last paragraph says:
You can’t see the wind, but you can tell when it’s blowing. It’s the same with the Holy Spirit. Invite God’s Spirit to move in your heart (even if it tells you to pour out your coffee). There the Spirit will produce godly qualities like love, joy, and peace. And your heart will start ringing with thankfulness, worship, and praise. These are the notes of a beautiful song God loves to hear.
(The coffee part and bolded word are my additions.)