Today was another fairly short lesson. I guess we’re winding down. So, let’s get to it.
Today is a rather simple message and certainly one of the underlying themes of the entire study. Christ is more than enough. He’s all we need.
The LORD will guide you always; he will satisfy your needs in a sun-scorched land and will strengthen you frame. You will be like a well-watered garden, like a spring whose waters never fail. ~ Isaiah 58:11
My goodness, that sounds lovely doesn’t it? There is no food on the planet that can promise that. Unfortunately, the author goes on to point out that we can trade our bondage to diet mentality and old eating habits for other forms of slavery. We’ve all heard people say that they gained a lot of weight after giving up cigarettes. Why? Because they turned to food to fill the void left by the nicotine. Well, God forbid that we should break our patterns of behavior with food only to turn to something else for comfort, escape… fulfillment. I certainly don’t feel like this Psalmist every day, but oh how I wish I did:
O God, you are my God, earnestly I seek you; my soul thirst for you, my body longs for you, in a dry and weary land where there is no water. I have seen you in the sanctuary and beheld your power and your glory. Because your love is better than life, my lips will glorify you. I will praise you as long as I live, and in your name I will lift up my hands. My soul will be satisfied as with the richest of foods. With singing lips my mouth will praise you. ~Psalm 63:1-5
I’ve heard Beth Moore say many times that if there is a heart change you want, ask God to give it to you. This passage would be mine. I want this every day. I want it so bad I could scream. I don’t want to spend whatever is left of my life here wishing for things that are temporary. Yes, I think God wants us to enjoy His earthly blessings, but I think we’re supposed to keep in mind that they are still His and they are still “earthly”.
I love that the author quotes A.W. Tozer. I have a couple of his books, to include the one she quotes from. It takes me a few pages before my brain adjusts to the depth of his writing, but when it gets there I’m like, Woah. In this particular quote, he talks about occupying our time with “programs, methods, organizations, and a world of nervous activities” in lieu of “wanting” after God. He says these things “occupy time and attention but can never satisfy the longing of the heart.” Too true.
I cannot even count the number of times I’ve thought something would be “just what I wanted” and then I’d be “satisfied”… only to discover that it wasn’t satisfying at all. Reaching the “perfect number” on the scale was one of those things. I’ve been thin and I’ve been obese. I’ve found that I can be discontent with my appearance at both ends of the spectrum. I’ve found that “being thin” didn’t solve my longing to be prettier, or thinner, or whatever. It only magnified my fear of being obese. Why? Because then I was afraid of losing everything I’d starved and beat myself up for. Chasing after that number gained me nothing of value… except maybe a few co-miserating relationships along the way.
Yet when I surveyed all that my hands had done and what I had toiled to achieve, everything was meaningless, a chasing after the wind. Nothing was gained. ~Ecclesiastes 2:11 (NIV)
My sentiments exactly. We can try to gratify ourselves with the things of this world, but true satisfaction comes from “constant fellowship with our Creator” (p.278). The author explains the difference between satisfaction and gratification, and I liked that part too.
If you’ve ever read the lyrics to the Rolling Stones’ song, “(I can’t get no) Satisfaction”… that is a perfect example of someone searching for something that can only be found at the feet of Jesus. Rather sad isn’t it? Well, here’s a little poem I titled, “Hope”. I wrote it one night as a teenager when I was so tired of being trapped by the obsession with my weight. It was my way of crying out to God about the struggle. I remember bawling after I wrote the first two stanzas and then I felt like the Lord spoke back with Hope (hence the title):
Scratch at the walls
Dig at the floor
Trapped in a box
That has no door
Lost in the darkness
Alone in the night
Wide open eyes
Receive no sight
Open soul and
Drink in affection
Just meditate in the Word
And marvel at perfection
Bowed head in prayer
Confessions of the heart
Reside in the temple
The body, a work of art
Etch upon remembrance
The past from wince came
To not return eternally
The lamb knows my name
Even back then, I knew what I needed to escape the tyranny of the lies. I even told myself to “etch” it upon my “remembrance”. I didn’t want to forget the grace and mercy and lovingkindness God showed me that night as a cried into my journal. But alas, I would fall right back into the pit again and again in the years to come. Why? Because I mistakenly thought food was the enemy, and that I was a failure because I couldn’t control it. Which leads me to the other lie. I believed I had to be perfect. I didn’t see it at the time as pride and trying to do everything in my own strength. I also didn’t realize I was actually addicted to dieting and battling an irrational fear of being overweight (which goes along with the notion of perfection).
I feel so strongly about this stronghold now. I cannot help but become emotional when I hear Tenth Avenue North’s, By My Side. So beautiful. I imagine Jesus singing it to me. I imagine He’s been singing it to me since I was a little girl.
Alright, so, moving on with today’s study. I said it was short, but clearly it tapped into a few things for me. Using Solomon’s “good-bye letter to everything else” from Ecclesiastes as an example, we were asked to write letters saying “good-bye” to whatever we’ve turned to besides God. I liked the food example so much that I just read it and agreed with it. The one I wrote was a good-bye to diets. I’m sure there is more I could say, but this has turned into a mini-book and not a simple blog post, so I’m going to wrap this up.
In case you’re wondering how Solomon ended his “good-bye” to chasing after the wind, here ya go:
Now all has been heard; here is the conclusion of the matter; Fear God and keep his commandments, for this is the whole duty of man. ~ Ecclesiastes 12:13
See, told you it was a simple message. As though I could feel any more like this study was tailor made with me in mind, the author used two more verses today from the ones I’m memorizing with my SSMT ladies.
Bless the LORD, O my soul, and forget not all his benefits… Who satisfieth thy mouth with good things; so that thy youth is renewed like the eagle’s. ~Psalm 103:2, 5 (KJV)
I’ve lamented so many times all the years of my youth that I wasted “chasing after the wind”, but this verse gives me hope that those years will be restored. Bless the LORD, O my soul…
Observation and Correction
Remember, today’s chart will say Day 25 because I accidently wrote Day 25 on Day 26’s chart. You’ll notice a couple of circled K’s, which mean I was standing in the kitchen. With the first incident, we were trying to get out the door. I was hungry, but didn’t feel like sitting down to a full meal. So, I snacked on a few slices (like 4) of bread and butter pickles and one tiny piece of chocolate. Then we were out the door. I know the second incident was when I got home. I think it was when I caught myself after mindlessly eating two tiny pieces of chocolate from the candy bowl (was so hungry). I stopped and waited for dinner to be ready (which was Indian Dahl w/ basmati rice and vegetable samosas… yum).
Ok, I really think that’s enough for today. Thanks for hanging in there with me through that.