Did you lose it… or Earn it?

I’ve lost weight before. I ate what I wanted, didn’t bother to exercise and when I stepped on the scale found a nice surprise. Metabolism? Extra inadvertent steps? Who knows, but this is lost weight. I’ve lost my keys too. It took as much effort and planning to lose my keys as it did to lose the weight. And in this case, ‘lose’ is the correct verb for both incidents.

I have also worked hard, suffered, sacrificed, and REMOVED weight from my body. Intentionally. This weight wasn’t lost, it was systematically and forcefully removed. It wasn’t happenstance. It wasn’t a fluke. It wasn’t a question mark as I approached the scale each day. I earned my health.

Hopefully you realize the difference isn’t simply semantical. Many of us are content to lose. And even after sloth, we find pride when we do.  ‘Look at that, I lost 3 pounds after that stomach virus! Woot!

Compare this way of thinking with your relationship with God. Of course we have to say right off the bat that we don’t “earn” anything with God.  But we do have responsibilities to keep the relationship going.  And often, we take the same approach as we do with weight loss.  We focus on what we can lose.

We can be passive and just watch the loss happen.  We can be a pew warmer in our church lives.  Never engaging, never connecting, never growing.  We can prioritize private reading and prayer time last in our lives (often getting neglected in favor of more exciting things like TV, internet, or the latest I-Device).

We can live for the weekends and then waste those as well.  And then we hit a high note.  We get something right, possibly by accident, or just circumstances that line up in our favor.  And we proudly exclaim, ‘look at that!  I lead a prayer, or I really helped that person, etc.. ‘  We puff up and feel like we have really accomplished something when we didn’t really do anything at all.

I fear many of us know the spiritual rut of complacency.  And the walls are lined with lies about how well we are doing when the scales just keep shouting out, “obese!”.  We are meant to pursue Jesus the same way we intentionally and specifically remove weight.  We go after Him.  We drop high calorie friends and cut out fatty habits.  We dive into the word, we wrap our minutes all throughout the day with prayer.

We don’t just happen to bump into Jesus and make a good impression… we chase Him down.  We cannonball into the baptismal and come out dripping with the Savior and His desires for our life.  Can you feel the difference?  One approach says, whatever will happen will happen as long as I don’t have to do much.  The other says, I am loved by God, and that is how I will be known.  I will carry my cross and follow Him.  I will look like Him.  I will be blessed and forgiven by Him.  I will not wait for the right moment or the right lighting or the right song, or the right circumstances… I will go now.  Because now is the only moment I have any say over.

I didn’t earn Him.  He was a gift.  But I refused to let Him pass me by.  I accept.


I Keep Finding My Weight

Some time ago I lost 50 pounds.  And it went quick.  Everyone wanted to know my secret.  I stopped drinking sugar drinks, I watched what I ate, and I exercised.  Big secrets, right?  EVERYONE wanted to know.  And when I answered, can you imagine the response?

Disappointment.  It was NOT what they wanted to hear.  They wanted the pill, the surgery, or the fad that would take the weight away without any effort.  Effort.  I worked my butt off (sort of literally) and no one was please that I did it on my own.  Because I couldn’t share that with them.  I couldn’t give them a prescription of weight loss that they could take over cheeseburgers and milkshakes.

I goth healthy and they wanted a lottery winning story.  Because the answer is the same when it comes to wealth.  How did you get so wealthy?  Hard work!  oh, nevermind, thought you could share your winning ticket with me.

But I’m not wanting to beat up on the deadbeats too much.  Mostly because I am one.  All of that weight I lost… I found it.  And I found some of the weight that some of you must have lost as well.  It happened gradually.  Weight fluctuation is common so I could let a pound or two slip.  Rewards are good motivators, so I endured several of those.  And the justifications started.  Well, at least I’m not as bad as I was.  I’ll crank it back up next week.  Oops, I’m injured, gotta take it easy.

I could go on for some time about my downfall and how I need to lose 20 pounds just to be 50 pounds overweight again.  But I’ll spare you and give you the short version.  My goal was to lose weight.  That’s it.  If you want to fail and fail hard, let your goal be to lose weight.  Why?  Simple.  Because once you reach your goal, you are done.

Let’s enjoy the Cub’s victory with them shall we? cubs

You know the story by now, right?  Its been decades since they have been to the world series.  Now they have won.  What is next for them?  In 3 months their record resets to 0 – 0 and they begin spring training.  No longer will they be the current world champs.  They will be fighting every other team in the league that didn’t win this year. Can the Cubs simply reproduce their effort from last year and win again?  NO!  Because every other team that didn’t win is going to work harder to try and remedy their mistakes from the past.  So to win again next year, they have to do more.  Even more than they did this year to win.  Its always stronger and faster and smarter.  The scale never ends.

When you set your goal too low, you have no where to go once you have achieved it.  If the Cubs goal isn’t to be the best team in the entire history of baseball, then they will never become that.  Just winning the world series is something that has happened over 100 times before by all sorts of different teams.  All you have to do is ask a Brave’s fan.  We endured a similar victory in our past as the Cubs did this year.  And it seemed that just winning the world series is all they wanted.  World series turned to playoff losses.  New years brought on just decent seasons.  And this year, the same year the Cubs won, they finished dead last in their division with one of the worst records in the league.  This is what happens when you achieve your garbage goal.  Its just that.  It means nothing almost as soon as you achieve it, and it guarantees failure.

My goal was to lose weight.  I lost it.  And then I found it right back.  This failure is true in all aspects of life.  Money, relationships, career, you name it.  Your goal has to be higher.  Colossians 3:2 says to “set your mind on things above, not on earthly things”.  Our bodies are temples given to us but once.  What if my goal became to honor my body?  We need something to hold onto that doesn’t end at a specific pound or milestone.  We need a mindset change.  I don’t need to lose weight, I need to respect the housing that God made for my soul.  1st Corinthians 3:16 says, “Don’t you know that you yourselves are God’s temple and that God’s Spirit dwells in your midst?”  This body isn’t just for us.

And we can abuse ourselves in more ways than simply overeating.  What if we stopped with the exercise equipment, the track, the charts, the measuring cups, and the motivational posters?  Those things all are traps to a horrible goal.  And instead, we set our minds on things above?  Instead, we honor God, and we honor our body, and we clean up the temple meant for us and the Spirit?  Of course we can use those tools just mentioned to get into to shape, but they are tools, not goals.

There is a massive difference in mind set between the 2 types of goals.

1.  I’m not going to eat this because I have reached my calories today.  Otherwise I would tear into that bad boy and enjoy every salty bite.  Maybe tomorrow! or… maybe I can just walk a little extra and have it anyway?

2.  That does not honor God or this body.  Its toxic and I will NEVER put that into my body.

See the difference?  Option 1, even if you turn the bad food down, you leave the door open for tomorrow’s failure.  If you are looking at food and rationalizing or reasoning with yourself, you already have the wrong goals.  A mindset change says those things are disgusting.  They are poison.  And its amazing how this change of mind works against all kinds of temptations.  Does this mean its easy?  No.  Its hard.  And that takes us right back to our miracle diet that our friends and family want to know so much about.  If you want to lose the weight and keep it off, you will BOTH:  work hard, and make decisions for your whole life (and not just for the calorie chart that day).

Prayers to all of us struggling with various temptations every day.