Keto, Paleo, Atkins, Mediterranean, Intermittent Fasting, Low-Carb, Low-Sugar, Low-Fat, Intuitive Eating, The Daniel Fast, Diet Phasing, Calorie Counting, Macro Counting, Weight Watchers, Jenny Craig, AdvoCare, Beachbody, Isagenix.... ad infinitum.
HIIT, marathon running, triathlon training, group exercise classes, cardio machines, weight lifting, yoga, crossfit, hiking, martial arts, sports specific training, individual sports, team sports, step counting, sleep tracking..... ad infinitum.
Overwhelming? Intimidating? Confusing? Maybe your New Year attempt at healthier living has you feeling this way.
These lists are long, but in no way exhaustive. I bet you could add a few types of diets you or someone close to you has tried; or a method of exercise you've attempted or heard that it's THE thing to do to become healthy. I know I've fallen prey to a before-and-after picture promo for a new workout video on an infomercial. Or I've seen the impact a way of eating or supplement regime has had on a friend and bought the same, expecting the same results. While the diets and exercise methods on these lists aren't inherently bad, or ill-designed, or even ineffective, they have an extremely high failure rate. And I would argue, not enough personal understanding on the account of the user to determine if it’s a good plan for them individually. We cannot expect what works for one will work for all, yet a lot of these methods seem to be very cookie cutter, or tout their simplicity, “follow these 5 steps to success”…….
Have you met one person who has been able to sustain the rules and requirements of one from the lists above for a length of time, without suffering some consequence? Maybe in relationships. Maybe in time. Maybe in mental health. Maybe in spiritual health. Maybe in physical health.
This year can be different.
Mark 7:8 says "You have let go of the commands of God and are holding on to human traditions".
What if this year, instead of buying the latest exercise and diet book, pill, shake, plan, or routine (holding on to human traditions), you held on to the commands of God?
What are those commands?
For starters He loves you. So much. He bought you at a price. His own Son, Jesus, was that ransom paid for your body and soul. This command isn't so much an order, but a notice - a declaration - a statement of love. It defines our relationship with Him. This understanding sets the tone for our healthier living habits. When we know that God loves us, that we are His dear child, we have the safety and security knowing we measure up. Already. Just as we are. We don't have to strive and struggle to get to a certain weight or achieve another personal record in order to level the scales, feel worth or measure up.
In John 15:5 Jesus says "I am the vine; you are the branches. If you remain in me and I in you, you will bear much fruit; apart from me you can do nothing. (emphasis added)
This does not exclude your healthier living habits.
Here are more passage, explaining ways to "remain in Jesus", or ways to help you feel whole, healthy and well.
Proverbs 3:7-8 "Do not be wise in your own eyes: fear the LORD and turn away from evil. This will be bring healing to your body and refreshment to your bones".
Psalm 19:8 "The precepts of the LORD are right, bringing joy to heart. The commands of the LORD are radiant, giving light to the eyes".
Mark 9:23 "Jesus said, 'Everything is possible for one who believes'. Immediately the boy's father exclaimed, 'I do believe, help me overcome my unbelief' ".
This last one though.
The Proverbs and Psalms passages are more clear – more like the “follow these five steps to success” we tend to crave from a diet or exercise program. If we do this, then we can expect that. Very safe and easy. Not much personal reflection needed, or excavation of motives required.
But that Mark passage. I know that I pray this simple prayer on the regular, like the sick child’s father. I know everything is possible with Jesus. I know He was there at the creation of the world. I know He is the first and last. I know He is all things and can do all things. I know that in Him I live, move and have my being (Acts 17:28). Yet, at at the same time, there's so much unbelief. So much doubt. So many nay-sayers in my head. So many excuses. So much self-reliance and lack of faith. So much self-worship and lack of intimacy with Jesus.
So. Much. Self.
Maybe you have unbelief regarding your resolutions. Maybe you doubt. Maybe you're unsure. Might I humbly suggest, you like the father of the sick boy (and me) loudly exclaim "I believe! Help me overcome my unbelief".
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