Thursday, July 21, 2016

A Testimony of Healthy Choices

One of the pictures I took
in Atlanta 7/21/15
               If you are on Facebook, you are familiar with the “Memories” that pop up in your news-feeds from time to time. There will be one that says, “One year ago today….”, followed by some picture or event that happened. Today, mine popped up with a picture that I took while hiking along the Chattahoochee river in Atlanta, Georgia. I was in Atlanta doing some dog sitting and just enjoying the time away from the hustle and bustle of owning my own business. (I own a pet care company; dogs are what I do!) One of my clients who used to live in North Carolina moved to Atlanta and I agreed to come spend the week at her home with her dogs. These dogs have been a part of my life for years, they were three of my very first clients, so any chance I get to stay with them, I jump at it.
               In the mornings I would load the dogs up and take them a few miles up the road to the nature trails that wound through the foothills and down to the river. Every morning we would hike up these hills and refresh ourselves under the canopy of God’s glorious creation. Now, mind you I had already started on a journey to make better choices when it came to my health, but I hadn’t exactly been giving it my all. I had quit smoking previously, and added jogging to my list of things to do to live healthier; but my food choices, and my willingness to give this lifestyle change my all had not yet been fully realized. As the boys (that’s what I called the three dogs- the boys) and I made our way on this one trail I stopped and watched how the sun came through the trees, filling the forest with light. As I stood there I heard the words of Paul begin to roll through my mind.

               “Or do you know that your body is a temple of the Holy Spirit within you, whom you have from God? You are not your own, for you were bought with a price. So glorify God in your body.” 1 Corinthians 6:19-20 ESV
               While the morning sun shone through the trees I realized that my life was not mine to do with as I pleased. It was not my life because my life had been bought and paid for by the Son of God, with His blood, with His very breath. He purchased me for a purpose and a reason; to glorify God the Father in all that I do and all that I say. This is something that I had thought of before. As Christians we know that we are to glorify God, but sometimes I do not think we understand what exactly that means.
               That morning the Lord started to show me the areas of my life that were not glorifying Him and one of those areas was my health. For years I had misused and abused the body that God created for me. I had eaten what I wanted, drank large quantities of alcohol, smoked cigarettes, smoked dope, and just about destroyed what little health I had left. I had been experiencing some health issues for a few years, and knew that if I didn’t make some changes that this life of mine was going to be short-lived. But there was no will in me to change. There was nothing that motivated me to want to change all the way. I used to say that what I ate didn’t matter, I was going to get a new body anyway; not realizing that I was basically telling God that this body of mine had no value, and the price He paid for it meant little to me.  
       Your body is not your own. Stop and think about that for just a minute. If you have something given to you and are told that it is not yours, are you going to take care of it? If someone hands you their child and asks you to care for it for a few hours, are you going to misuse that child or abuse that child? No, of course not! So why do we, as Christians, think that our bodies, yes our physical bodies are ours to do with as we please? We have been given the gift of life and a body to live that life out. God does not want us to use and abuse His gift anyway we choose. We are not our own. We were bought with a price. That price is more than you or I will ever be able to repay. Every choice I make has an effect upon my life, whether spiritual or physical. The law of sowing and reaping applies to every area of our lives- physical and spiritual.
               Paul writes that our bodies are the temple of the Holy Spirit, and He lives in us. Would you back a dump truck up to your church and dump trash into it? Probably not. Our bodies are no different that the churches we attend every week. We are the church; we are temples of the living God. Why do we insist on backing up to the nearest McDonald’s, or filling our sanctuaries with foods that will destroy us or things that will defile us? Why do we think we have any right to put into our temples what we want? God has bought you. God has paid for you. God dwells in you. Everything you eat, drink, look at, taste and touch has an impact on you either physically or spiritually. Yes, I know that Jesus says what goes into the body does not defile a man, but what comes out of him, and I am not disagreeing with Him. (Matthew 15:11, 15:18) I firmly and confidently agree with what He says- He is God. But let me ask you this one question- If God has bought you, and you are not your own, if your life is a gift and you are to be a steward of that gift, don’t you think your choices about what you do with your body is important to Him?
Atlanta, Georgia 7/21/15
               When I stood on the top of that mountain and the Lord showed me how much I was throwing away by the choices I was making about my health, I was humbled. He wants to use us for His glory, for His gospel and for His Kingdom, but it is hard for Him to use us when we are too tired to get out of our chair because we just downed a whole chocolate cake and a bag of Doritos. It is hard for us to focus because we have filled our minds with things that are against Him instead of filling our minds with Him. Our lives are constantly being read by those who are in the world. Every choice you make, every piece of cake you eat will have an effect on your life one way or another. I am living proof.
               As I came down off that mountain, I knew my life was never going to be the same. I had begun to understand what it meant to be 100% His. We focus so much on being His spiritually, that we forget we are to be His physically as well. It was then that I started on the journey towards better health, better choices, and a dedicated mind to follow hard after my God- in every single area of my life. Have I always succeeded, no. In fact, I have failed over and over again. I have had to retrain my mind and the way I see food. I have had to retrain my body to reject that which is not good for me. I have had to turn my eyes from things that are not good to watch, to read, to listen to or to be a part of. I have had to make sacrifices, and every day I face the challenge of making those same choices and sacrifices again. I fail, but I don’t give up. I let yesterday stay where it is- in the past, and I strive to give God my very best today. This body, this life, this breath I breathe is not my own, I was bought with a price, and I choose to glorify God in all and with all that I am today. Amen.

My friend, if you are reading this today and you too know that you need to make some life changes in regards to your health, can I please encourage you to make that change today. Just start with one thing and choose to put it away. When I came home from Atlanta I went out and bought a bike. I started to ride every day. On the days I could not ride, I chose to run. I started out with only being able to ride 5 or 6 miles. Then I worked up to 10, then 15, then 20, now I can easily do 40-50 miles a day. I am hoping to ride in Ragbrai next year- a bike across Iowa- a week long ride of up to 100 miles a day. I can run 3 miles now without stopping (too much!) and I have more energy than I ever thought possible. And the best part of it all, I know that with God anything is possible if I just take the step toward living my life for Him- physically and spiritually. I am living proof. Amen.