Last week, we talked about making good decisions — God’s way. I want to follow up on that. One may ask, “How does a Bible verse that is so abstract make sense regarding my finances.” The fact is that it does have an impact, financially and spiritually.
One of the key components in our relationship with God is obedience. We often read of saints who divested themselves of worldly riches to become impoverished by worldly standards to enhance their spirituality. Those are good stories that impact our thinking and make us look at our relationship with God in new ways.
Remember the verse we talked about last week? It came from James, Chapter 3.
Are there any of you who are wise and understanding? You are to prove it by your good life, by your good deeds performed with humility and wisdom. But if in your heart you are jealous, bitter, and selfish, don’t sin against the truth by boasting of your wisdom. Such wisdom does not come down from heaven; it belongs to the world, it is unspiritual and demonic. Where there is jealousy and selfishness, there is also disorder and every kind of evil. But the wisdom from above is pure first of all; it is also peaceful, gentle, and friendly; it is full of compassion and produces a harvest of good deeds; it is free from prejudice and hypocrisy. And goodness is the harvest that is produced from the seeds the peacemakers plant in peace — James 3:13-18.
Four weeks ago, I felt led by the Holy Spirit to go on a weight loss program. I have tried these before and, like many of you, have felt like I was on a yoyo string. My weight went down, my weight went up, and I could even look like the famous “around the world,” it went in circles.
This time, I felt convicted by the Holy Spirit to proceed. Fifteen months ago, I attended an annual Winter Retreat with our Cursillo Community and the theme was, “Out of the Darkness.” We were asked to have the Lord show us where the “darkness” was in our life and I did just that. Never be afraid to ask the Holy Spirit to show you areas of your life He may want to improve.
I became aware that the area the Lord wanted to deal with was my diabetes. I felt I had accepted the fact that I was diabetic, because I was taking my medicine and my insulin, but I was assuming the medications were to do all the work and I was not accepting the responsibility of managing my diet, or exercise. One of the side effects of insulin is weight gain. I felt hopeless. The more weight I put on, the larger doses of insulin the doctor recommended. The more I increased the dosage, the more weight I put on. It was discouraging. However, God does not want us to be discouraged; he wants us to turn to him. I have developed the habit of saying this simple prayer: “Lord, thank you for these circumstances, and thank you for this environment, so I can grow in your love.”
The Lord brought into my life a new diet program that is administered only by professionals and is, perhaps the only diet program with FDA approval. The FDA regulates consistency in products as one of their requirements. The program is working. I have lost 18 pounds in three weeks, but more importantly, my blood sugar readings have dropped from a 30-day average of 259 to 134 to the amazement of me and my endocrinologist. It is in the process of our trials that we find the love of God and the desire to obey. We find God is smarter than us.
The diet fit the guidelines of James’ letter. It was, “peaceful, gentle, and friendly; it is full of compassion and produces a harvest of good deeds; it is free from prejudice and hypocrisy.” I was on my way to weight loss freedom. Then some of my old fleshly stubbornness took over.
I had developed a taste for certain hamburger patties, one of the components of my new diet. I am supposed to consume eight ounces of meat, poultry, or fish, once a day. I thought, “What a gift from the Lord to bring these wonderful hamburger patties into my life to take some of the sting out of the misery of dieting.” My wife had bought them many months ago and had them in the freezer, and had forgotten where she had bought them. No problem. I am a researcher. So I went on line and found the company who manufactures them, only to find I could not buy them online. So I traced down the wholesaler and found the chain where they were sold and went to two of them in my area only to find those stores in the chain did not carry them. By now I had two patties left. I was frustrated, and crying out to the Lord for guidance.
I remembered the name of another store that carried them and when I got there I found the patties, but they were in a different box, this one was blue. I read the ingredients carefully, and they were the same, but the box was different, so I ignored them and continued on my quest. The patties I was looking for were in a yellow box. So, the box had to be yellow. God was not going to give me my patties in a blue box. My quest had now turned into a mission. I was going to succeed, no matter what, because I am not a quitter. Besides, this was for the Lord.
Tuesday night, I went to a meeting and there was a young man there I had not seen in six years. I remembered he worked in the meat department in one of the local stores, so after the meeting I asked him if they sold that particular brand of meat. “Do they come in a big yellow box?” he asked.
Triumphantly, I said, “YES!” He told me they carried them, and he had two boxes shipped from the store he was working at to the local store within a mile of my house. I had succeeded. I had won. I was happy.
The fact that eluded me was that the blue box of hamburgers sold for $6.99. The yellow box of hamburgers sold for $11.99. Because I had given my word, my ego would not allow me to go back on my word, so I bought both boxes.
Had not my ego gotten involved, had not my stubbornness gotten in the way, the Lord would have supported my diet, but would have done it at a 58% discount.
This is Lent. I repent. Next time I will buy the blue box of hamburger patties. Dogged determination does not compare with humble obedience.