Updated: Oct 3, 2020
“It is good for our hearts to be strengthened by grace, not by foods." Hebrews 13:9
To know me, is to know I love celebrating the special moments in life with a delicious meal, a scrumptious desert, or a “cuppa” something yummy sitting across the table from you. Just yesterday our family gathered around a decorated table to enjoy a nice meal and discover the gender of our second grandchild. (smile) And tomorrow we will reflect on a life well lived as we observe my father-in-law’s thirteenth year in heaven. With the God-given gift of hospitality, it seems only natural to find joy in planning, preparing for, and celebrating such occasions. A gifting that echoes the feasts and celebrations we read about in God’s Word. I mean, someone had to plan all those parties!
People and food seem to go together when there is something to commemorate. And I believe God is delighted when His children make a point to reflect on what He has done in their lives, particularly when credit is pointed back to Him.
I have come to learn however, that celebratory meals like that have a time and place. The occasional splurge on rich foods keeps life fun and interesting. But restraint in the ordinary day to day is both needed and hard. I am honestly not the best caretaker of my body. Personally, I don’t always care for this temple of the Holy Spirit with utmost concern and attention the way I should, in spite of things the Lord has deeply ingrained upon my heart like...
"Eat well, so you will feel well, so you can serve Me well."
And "Exercise restraint and you’ll live without regret."
He has divine appointments lined up that I will miss if I have to carve out time to be sick or wallow in regret. Yet even with clear directives from above like that, my flesh and my tastebuds repeatedly stand in the way. I have been circling this Jericho wall for quite some time now.
While I believe there is a time for celebrating, and that includes the people I love and delectable food choices, I also believe feasts and celebrations must be kept in their proper place in my life. Rich foods are not meant for my everyday consumption. Not if I want to be at my best for service to the Lord. That theology is tested biblically in chapter 1 of the book of Daniel. Yet I seem to have a strong aversion for tasty things that are not so good for me.
Food and certain beverages have become both a comfort and a struggle for me. They rank high on the party planning list when I’m excited and find something to make a fuss over, and are my go to when I’m bored, feeling down, or deep in grief over something. They bring both joy and regret respectively.
And there’s the diving line.
On the one hand, food is used for good and glorious occasions, and on the other, turned to for comfort instead of running to the Comforter.
This area of food that feels like it’s in my control, has become my hardest struggle. Having endured great loss in my life — people taking pieces of me what weren’t theirs to take, and walking away when they should have pressed in — has ingrained in me a strong desire to remain in control. And yet God has impressed on my spirit that control is a heart issue.
Deeper than that, it’s a trust issue.
A rebellion issue.
An idol issue.
A flesh versus God issue.
While there is nothing inherently wrong with food, there are food choices I willingly make that do not keep my body in optimal condition to do the work I’m called to do. All too often I give in to temptation. Just as I can’t expect to get to appointments if my car isn’t in good running condition, or if I put diesel fuel into a tank that calls for unleaded, neither can I expect my body to operate from a state of rest and have energy if my tank is full of regret and emotional debris. I have to give it the right kind of fuel.
While food might not be an issue for the next person, it is an issue for me because of deep rooted fear associated with great losses in my life. In this case, fear of letting go and exchanging the ability to choose what “sounds” good to my tastebuds, or what “seems” like comfort on a plate or in a cup, for what God says is best. Letting go of my “rights” so God’s “right” flows through my life instead.
Your fill-in-the-blank idol might not be food, but any number of other things. And most of us have more than one.
This is where it gets sticky! Obviously I have to eat and I have to drink. But more importantly, I have to be in tune with my heart and consider why I’m feeling bent toward certain less-than-God-honoring choices, and that takes pause. It takes intentional stillness before the Father. Being still in His presence long enough to hear His perspective about what’s going on under the surface when a craving comes on. I mean, most of the time it’s just not that clear in the middle of my busyness. It requires a moment of stillness.
When cravings do come along, tastebuds don’t typically have to wait very long to be satisfied. It’s kind of a tit-for-tat process. If a “cuppa” calls my name, I might opt to push the start button on the pot. If I’m craving something sweet, I might go rummaging through the baking supplies for a handful of chocolate chips. If I’m craving something fizzy, I might hit the drive through. And herein lies my fleshly downfall. Especially if I haven’t paused and checked my heart.
Craving comfort on a spoon or in a cup is usually an indicator I’m craving something from my Savior that I don’t think I’m getting. Or better yet, haven’t taken time to seek from Him. Plain and simple, it’s putting an idol on my fork or in my cup, and that’s sin.
If I want to be spiritually victorious in that moment, or with any consistency, I have to accept the fact it will take more than willpower. My flesh is just too weak and my emotions are often unreliable. Idol comforts are like check engine lights on the dash of our lives. Cause to look under the hood.
Victory is found in searching for the root of my cravings by asking God questions like these used when I’m doing guided prayer ministry, to let Him speak into them:
God, what is going on in my heart making me crave __________?
(be still until He reveals what emotions are underlying)
Where have I felt this way before?
(be still until God brings a memory to mind)
What lie did I come to believe?
(take note of everything that comes to mind)
What truth does my heart need to know from You, God?
(listen with your heart until truths stop coming to mind)
Then I picture myself placing that burden in Jesus’ hands, and ask Him what He wants to give me in return, and receive it.
This allows Him to speak into the lie that I need something other than Jesus —Jesus and... if you will —and gives Him opportunity to be my Comfort instead.
These impressions on my heart with regard to truth should always line up with the Word of God and be accompanied by a strong sense of peace. He delights in speaking to my heart when I honor Him by taking time to listen.
Making this a regular practice takes practice. It’s a day by day, moment by moment choice to be in tune with your heart. I remember one day, and forget the next, as I am learning to take these burdens disguised as cravings to Jesus. Especially those hidden beneath the surface in my subconscious. After all, most of what drives our conscious thoughts and feelings sits below the surface, much like the roots of a plant are hidden below the soil. If we really want to know what’s going on, we have to pick up our shovel and do a little digging. We have to be intentional.
God has whispered, if I could really grasp hold of letting Him have complete control, I would be that much more effective for Him. I would be that much more obedient in other things He calls me to do. Oh, to have a heart like Daniel!
“It is good for our hearts to be strengthened by grace, not by foods." Hebrews 13:9
Food and other cravings go far beyond partaking of them just because. God has shown me my old responses of “I like it,” “I need it,” “it sounds good,” “it tastes good” or “it feels good” aren’t the real truth. There’s always a driving factor. A motivator. And when that motivation isn’t pure in Christ, it’s rooted in a lie. Lies that must be counteracted with truths like these...
I know better than God what I need.
God always knows best and has my best interest at heart.
God made it so there’s no harm in having it.
There is a time and place for everything under the sun.
God is holding out on me.
God wants what’s best for me so He can use my life for His glory.
I don’t want to miss out.
When you’re sick or consumed with regret you’ll end up missing out on what’s really important, the God-ordained opportunities I have in mind for you. I am Enough.
No one will know or care.
God always cares. He cares about every little thing, especially what I decide to fuel my body (His temple) with.
Food satisfies and makes me happy.
I am meant to be your Satisfaction and Joy.
When God speaks to the heart, everything changes.
If you struggle with idol comforts like me, consider downloading my free PDF Prayer Guide. Use this model when your tastebuds or other cravings get the best of you. Should you have questions or need help figuring out the process, I’m a message away!