Have you tried various diets only to fail at all of them? Or perhaps you set a New Year’s resolution to exercise every day and by the second week of January, you had already fallen off your new regime? That’s probably because you did what most of us do when we try to become healthier: You trusted in your own power.
Joel Guerra had never eaten healthy his entire life, he didn’t exercise, and he weighed 288 pounds. But he accepted the task when Rick Warren challenged the Saddleback Church congregation to discard their extra pounds by trusting God to help them. So when asked to write down how many pounds he wanted to lose, Joel wrote down “25 pounds” and dropped the paper in the basket when it came time to collect everyone’s goals.
When he woke up the next morning, Joel had an unshakable desire to go for a walk and to eat healthier, which was totally out of character for him, and he knew it. That was the first step and six years later, Joel was 70 pounds lighter!
Joel simply stopped trying to do it all himself and started trusting in God’s power. The key to a faith-filled life is not trying harder. It’s not psyching yourself up, but in relaxing in God’s grace, so he can do through you what he desires to do.
“I have swum, biked and run nearly 20,00 miles in the last six years. Along the way, I have said many prayers of thanks that God has given me the ability and desire to be fit,” said Joel.
You can do this too! Philippians 2:12-13 says, “Be energetic in your life of salvation, reverent and sensitive before God. That energy is God’s energy, an energy deep within you” (MSG). Why not use it?
In Philippians 4:13 (GNT), Paul goes on to say, “I have the strength to face all conditions by the power that Christ gives me.” Note that it doesn’t say I have the strength in some conditions, it says ALL conditions. That includes breaking bad habits and creating healthy ones.
Living by faith means you are attempting to do something you cannot do by yourself. Eileen Swift once prayed for the Lord to give her the faith of Abraham and God said, “I’m going to give you something better. I’m giving you the faith of Eileen!” And he did!
Eileen said that when she started the Daniel Plan, she was very ill and had suffered from depression and a panic disorders for most of her life; as a result, she had been taking medication for over 20 years.
“Trusting in Jesus, I overcame my fear and successfully weaned myself from antidepressant and anti-anxiety medications four years ago,” she added. “Now I think with great clarity, stable emotions, and I quickly respond to the Lord’s guidance.”
As Eileen’s health improved, she also felt her brain chemistry changing, so she claimed this verse for strength: “For God has not given us a spirit of fear; but of power, and of love, and of a sound mind.” (2nd Timothy 1:7)
Despite two lower back surgeries, one in 2011 (this one nearly cost Eileen her life!) and another in 2012, Eileen now belongs to the Saddleback Church’s triathlon team, runs half-marathons, and participates in four weight training classes per week.
Eileen stated, “I never would have thought myself physically capable of these activities, but Jesus told me otherwise. He led me and I followed. My weight has gone from 142 to 119 lbs. And at the age of 58, I am now stronger physically, mentally, emotionally and spiritually than I have ever been in my entire life… All because of my unshakeable faith in my Savior.”
With God, what was impossible for you yesterday is a miracle waiting to happen tomorrow. Are you ready for such a miracle in your life as well? If so, then let’s get started:
- Spend time in God’s Word, as that’s how he teaches us how to live and how to change. Second Timothy 3:16-17 tells us, “All Scripture is inspired by God and is useful to teach us what is true and to make us realize what is wrong in our lives.” You need to read it, study it, memorize it, meditate on it and apply it—as Eileen did. Through this process God will show you the path to walk on, where you have gotten off the path, how to get back on the path, and how to stay on track so you don’t keep falling off.
- Anticipate that God’s Spirit will change you. Romans 8:9-11 tell us that when we commit ourselves to Christ, the Holy Spirit comes into our lives to empower and direct us. The Spirit of God gives us his strength to do what is right, just as Joel and Eileen experienced. For this to happen, we must first believe it and anticipate it.
In his book, What Makes You So Strong?, Jeremiah Wright, Jr. states: “Anticipation is knowing that God is working on the problem even though that action is not yet visible.”
- Utilize your circumstances as a catalyst for change. God’s ideal way to change us is through the Bible so that we can find out how we should live and then through his indwelling Spirit, who empowers us to do it. But if we ignore these, God brings in a third tool to help us change: Our circumstances.
It took circumstances to get Eileen and Joel to embark on a health-improvement campaign; it also motivated Dorothy Mack to alter her eating habits and lose weight. But circumstances alone were not enough to sustain any of them. They all needed God’s Word, and faith in the power of the Holy Spirit to stay on the road to good health.
Dorothy shares how these things all worked together to help her embark on and maintain a healthy life-style:
In October, 2015, my Endocrinologist advised me that my weight was a problem. He stated that I was borderline diabetic and my weight was a contributing factor. He advised me to begin a weight loss program immediately. He recommended that I drink two protein shakes in lieu of two meals and then to eat one healthy meal a day. I started this program with enthusiasm and great expectations.
However, after about sixty days I had only lost six pounds and I was always hungry between meals, which was discouraging. So I requested to see a nutritionist for additional advice. I also prayed often for God’s guidance and strength, as I was afraid of becoming a diabetic and taking medication the rest of my life if I was not able to reduce my weight. As a result, I surrendered my expectations to God, thereby believing that his love and mercy would help me lose the excess weight in a healthy way.
My weight loss to date is twenty-two pounds, which I know is a result of my trusting God to give me the faith and courage to make healthier food choices and to practice portion control. Going forward I have no fear or doubts that I will reach my weight loss goal, because I anticipate that God’s guidance and direction will enable me to be victorious.
And He will enable you to be victorious as well if you spend time meditating on His Word, have faith that the Holy Spirit will empower you, and use your circumstances as a catalyst for change.