When I’m counseling parents and grandparents, I tell them that kids can get used to anything. You set the patterns and rhythms and boundaries and your kids will adapt. In order for families to become healthier and God-honoring, we must seek, know, and follow the Lord’s ways and stop doing what makes us sick and doing what sucks the life out of us.
What makes this hard is that we’ve become accustomed to our favorite drinks, foods, and lifestyles. We’ve also benefitted from the secondary gains of that which depletes us of our strength and our health. It tastes good. It feels good. We like it and we hate it. It makes us feel in control and out of control. We’re used to it. Sometimes it makes us more money and other times it costs us a lot of money. It gives us something to cheer about and to complain about. It gives us something to talk about or something to blame when we don’t feel good. We get positive and negative attention from doing it.
However, when we pursue what health demands, and we eat it, drink it, or do it because it’s truly good for us, our body systems get used to it. Kind of like exercise. When we start exercising, we think we’re going to die. But when we keep exercising, our bodies get used to it, and we become conditioned to exercise.
To be honest with you, sometimes I talk and write and complain more about pursuing health than I’m actually doing it. When many of my favorite foods and drinks left my life, I belly-ached, seeking your comfort and sympathy instead of just making changes because they were good for me. My poor wife has heard me complain and tell too many stories about her homemade probiotic kefir that she makes each day. I call them my “scooby shakes” to make me feel good. I call them the “green lagoon,” imagining a spider or frog to jump out of it. I’m sorry. I’m an otter, and I have to turn everything into fun. But when my wife “hides” everything that I’d never eat or drink into one daily “shake” or in her homemade meals, I know that she cares much more about me and my health than she cares about my comfort zone. As she’s systematically changing the landscape of our home and our diet, I praise God for her and for our growing health. She’s my health coach, and I’m learning to “be good.”
Your life is made up of complex systems. Healthy cells grow and reproduce as do unhealthy cells. Whatever you feed grows, and whatever you starve dies. But how do you start growing obedience cells? You don’t just say “no” and stop saying or doing whatever is unhealthy for you. You have to begin the habit of waiting on the Lord, digesting His Word, praying His Word, and asking the Lord to change you and to help you put into practice what He tells you to do. The more you digest and consume and apply God’s Word and as it becomes your food and your drink and your map for decision-making, you will grow what God designed you to grow: health. When you get rid of everything that you don’t need and what doesn’t belong in your life, God will bless you with growing health. The less you eat sugar and junk food, the more it will make you sick when you eat it. The more that you do God’s will, the more you will want to do God’s will. When you stop sinning and when you start obeying God because you love Him, you will grow a fruitful life. Not because it always feels good, but because it’s the right thing to do.
I believe that God wants to simplify our lives. Just as He told the prophet Jeremiah “for you must go wherever I send you and say whatever I tell you. And don’t be afraid of the people, for I will be with you and take care of you” (Jeremiah 1:7,8), I believe that God is giving us a similar message. In fact, I think that God wants us to de-clutter our lives by removing that which depletes us, busies us, consumes us, and steals away His joy and peace. If we reduce this “Stop and Start” blog to one message, I believe that Jesus is saying what has been recorded throughout Scripture. Listen and obey Me—instead of ignoring Me and rebelling. If we love Jesus, we will listen and follow in His footsteps. And when we do, everything will change.
In the midst of writing this blog, I realized that if everyone else is saying it and doing it, then I probably won’t be saying or doing it. If everyone else is eating or drinking it, then I probably won’t be eating or drinking it. If everyone else is standing in line to get it or to do it, it’s probably not good for me, and there’s probably financial gain from doing it. But if God hasn’t orchestrated or ordained it, then the answer is “NO.” I pray that we will respond with an absolute “YES” as Jesus invites us to pursue Him, follow Him, and become like Him for the benefit of others.