Have you ever had a couple of phrases which keep coming to mind over a period of time?
For the past month, I have heard ‘buckle up’ and ‘be ready’ repeated in my head.
Did I know what these words meant?
Yesterday, I finished my year-long commitment of reading Romans 12 daily in 2016. What an amazing and yes, transforming experience! A friend recently asked me if I was planning to devote myself to reading one chapter or book in 2017. At the time, I didn’t have an answer.
Such decisions are actually prayerful ones for me. I ask my God what He wants to instill in my heart and mind and then that’s what I do. I’ve dived into word studies, read books of the bible and single chapters, and participated in bible studies with my God – all according to His leading.
So, for the New Year, I wondered where I would camp in 2017.
My answer came a couple of days ago.
I don’t know how things with the Lord work for you, but for me, I go quiet and ask the Lord what He wants me to do with Him. I won’t say that answers come right away. But if I keep asking and remain quiet, I do receive His guidance and when it is followed up with Scripture, some other kind of inspirational word, or my husband’s (yes, especially my husband’s) support, then I know I’m on the right track.
What will I be doing for 2017?
The first one is that I will read whatever the Lord leads me to each day. I will ask and I will receive an answer.
And if I don’t receive a new word, then I will remain camped in the chapter the Lord gave me.
Today, on the first of January, I was led to Philippians 3.
I’ve read it before. In fact, I’ve studied this book a number of times. So I wondered why my God would ask me to read this particular chapter on the first day of 2017.
I have many verses and phrases already underlined and highlighted in this chapter:
v.3 …put no confidence in the flesh
v.7 But whatever was to my profit I now consider loss for the sake of Christ.
v.8 What is more, I consider everything a loss compared to the surpassing greatness of knowing Christ Jesus my Lord, for whose sake I have lost all things. I consider them rubbish that I may gain Christ….
v.13 Brothers and sisters, I do not consider myself yet to have take hold of it. But one thing I do: Forgetting what is behind and straining toward what is ahead.
v.14 I press on toward the goal to win the prize for which God has called me heavenward in Christ Jesus.
v.20 But our citizenship is in heaven. And we eagerly await a Savior from there, the Lord Jesus Christ who by the power that enables him to bring everything under his control, will transform our lowly bodies so that they will be like his glorious body.
Each of these verses have held significant meaning to me at specific junctures in my life.
However, these were not the verses that my heart was most directed to on this first day of 2017.
The verse that jumped off the pages of my bible was this one:
Their destiny is destruction, their god is their stomach, and their glory is in their shame. Their mind is on earthly things. New International Version, Philippians 3:19
This verse was not highlighted or underlined in my bible. It is not particularly a feel-good, heart-warming, or encouraging verse, is it? Who wouldn’t want to just skip over it.
However, as I read it and re-read it, I knew what this verse was God’s specific word and exhortation for me this morning.
Buckle up, Heather.
Be ready, Heather.
This is a call to surrender.
The phrase of ‘their god is their stomach’ from verse 19 struck not just my stomach but my soul. To confess, I have used sugary foods as my drug of choice when life becomes challenging. I don’t want to say that I go overboard, but I do confess that a handful of chocolate chips has a pleasant way of anesthetizing my frustrations, sadness, and fears. To be completely honest, I can look all the way back to my childhood to see how sugar became a friend in tough times.
Recently, through the help of the 21 Day Fix Program from Beachbody and a group of old and new friends, I worked to free myself of some extra body weight. Today, I have kept most of those unwanted pounds off and have some healthy life patterns in place. That’s great.
However, like I said, when something happens that zaps my confidence, injures my pride, pierces my heart, or attacks my stability, I am drawn to something with sugar to give me a bit of comfort. I may be what people call a ‘strong Christian’ – I can certainly come across that way at times – but in this area, I can be weak. And when my drug of choice is offered in a number of different and altogether pleasing manners especially with an expectation for me to eat it, I oblige. I don’t want to let the person down after they’ve worked so hard to prepare such a delight. That’s the people-pleaser in me at work.
After a year of Romans 12 reading though, I am aware that my God desires to transform me – not my body necessarily – but me. His desire is that my mind would be transformed and renewed in such a way that my soul dependence is placed securely and completely upon Him.
Buckle up, Heather.
Be ready, Heather.
I knew after reading Philippians 3 what this year would be about. Yes, the whole year, all 12 months, 365 days, 8760 hours, 525,600 minutes down to the fleeting and quick 31,536,000 seconds of 2017 would be devoted to a spiritual journey that I’ve only taken in shorter spurts in the past.
Yes, Heather, buckle up.
2017 will be my year without sugar.
I don’t want my stomach to be my god, nor do I want a quick chocolate fix to separate me from what my God desires to do in my life as I surrender to Him. My life verses say this:
My purpose is that they may be encouraged in heart and united in love, so that they may have the full riches of complete understanding, in order that they may know the mystery of God, namely Christ, in whom are hidden all the treasures of wisdom and knowledge. New International Version, Colossians 2:2-3
One of my prayers I pray as I read through these Colossians verses each day is that I would know more of my God and have a deeper more intimate fellowship with my Savior. I want to dig down deep and discover what these hidden treasures of wisdom and knowledge are in Christ. I believe that surrendering my drug of choice is a necessary step to learning more about what is even more available to me in my walk with Him. I haven’t taken hold of all that God wants for me yet. The key is to forget what is behind and strain toward what is ahead – keeping my eyes fixed to Christ – and for this year, a significant step will be to say farewell to sugar.
If my previous year of reading and applying Romans 12 in my life is to matter, then I choose to embrace these words as I say hasta la vista baby to sugar in 2017:
Therefore, I urge you, Heather, in view of God’s mercy, to offer your body as a living sacrifice, holy and pleasing to God – this is your spiritual act of worship. Do not conform any longer to the pattern of this world by using sugar to make you feel better or take away your pain temporarily, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind. Then you will be able to test and approve what God’s will is – his good, pleasing and perfect will.
Why give up sugar for a year?
Why not a few weeks or a few months?
Well, I’ve done that before. With success, actually.
I have experienced the benefits of living a no-sugar life and it’s actually pretty good! I’m more clear-headed, less bloated, and stronger. When tough times have hit during my sugar-free seasons, I’ve been more reliant on my God and more able to hear Him. However, whenever I’ve taken a bite of sugar once again, I’m back to a place of using this drug of choice to make me feel good.
I believe my God is asking me to surrender sugar to Him until I reach a place where I no longer rely on food – sugary, chocolatey food – to give me a moment of respite from my struggles. To overcome a lifetime of such efforts will require surrendering it to my God for as long as it takes.
I will start with 2017.
It won’t be easy. I wish it would be. However, sugar is everywhere and is often offered with lots and lots of love.
Regardless, it’s time to buckle up.
Let’s do this thing, Lord.
And for those of you who follow this blog or like to read about what’s happening with my family and me, I’ll share the journey with you, just as I did with Romans 12.
I’m ready, 2017.
My sugar-free year begins….now.
Image retrieved from Google Search: No Sugar