Health and Fitness: Fearfully and Wonderfully Made – Obedience

Cyndi - AfterPsalm 139:14: I will give thanks to Thee, for I am fearfully and wonderfully made; Wonderful are Thy works, and my soul knows it very well.

This verse has never meant more to me than it does right now.

This past Saturday God allowed me to enjoy an experience I would never have dreamed of 17 months ago. I jogged in a 5-mile cross-country trail run—through fields, woods, and across a creek twice! I jogged the whole 5 miles, never walking a step, and I did it in 59 minutes.

Over the past eighteen months my body has undergone a transformation as I’ve released 120 pounds and regained health. I am healthier now at 46 than I was at 26 and more fit than I was at 16. I am not telling you this to brag on myself or to beg for compliments and praise about how I look. I’m telling you this because I want to give the praise and glory to God for what has happened in the last year and a half. It would not have happened without Him. You see, it really hasn’t been my success—it has been God’s success, God’s victory, in me. It is what Christ has done in me. His works are wonderful [and my body] and my soul know it. During the past 18 months I have learned about nutrition, health, and fitness thanks to Weight Watchers and my sister, Tracy, who encouraged me to join; but more than that, I have learned some important spiritual lessons that I believe have been the key to my weight loss success.

1. The first and most important spiritual lesson I learned in this journey is that my body and what I do with it and to it matters to God (1 Corinthians 3:16-17).

To be honest, when I joined Weight Watchers I wasn’t convinced of that. I was initially pretty hesitant about involving God in my quest to lose weight. I resisted talking to Him about my desire to lose weight and ask for His help. I think there were three main reasons I was reluctant to go to God with this: 1) I worried I would just be using God like some kind of diet gimmick. 2) I figured if I prayed about it and then failed, I would open myself up to the temptation of blaming God for the failure and the state of my obese body. 3) If I prayed about it, I had to make a serious commitment to listen to God about His will in this and that meant being willing to obey as well.

But then the Lord confronted me with a scripture that really convicted me and made me see that this certainly was a matter to bring before the Lord. 1 Corinthians 3:16-17: “Do you not know that you are a temple of God, and that the Spirit of God dwells in you? If any man destroys the temple of God, God will destroy him, for the temple of God is holy, and that is what you are.”

My body is a temple. Paul says that God’s Spirit, the Holy Spirit, literally dwells in me. My obesity was destroying that temple. My 45-year-old body ached like it was 80 years old. I couldn’t get out of bed without a lot of effort and aches in my hips, knees, and feet. My hands hurt every morning. Getting out of a chair took work as I slowly straightened out Cyndi - Beforejoints. It was pitiful. I was too young to be so old. I knew I was only old because I had been abusing my body for years. In addition to aches and pains, I snored badly at night and didn’t sleep well; I had heartburn daily and ate Tums every night before bed. I was well on my way to be diagnosed with type 2 diabetes, if not heart disease. The poor food choices and amount of food I was eating were destroying my body. In 1 Corinthians 3:16-17, God said that my body as the temple of God is holy—and I was defiling it.

If that isn’t something to repent of and pray to God about, then I don’t know what is. Confronted by that passage, it became obvious to me that I had to involve God in this. Indeed, God desired to be involved in this. I could make my weight loss all about myself—or I could make it all about Him and through it bring Him the glory that for so long I had diminished. So I prayed in repentance for defiling His temple.

2.A second thing I have come to understand is that obedience to God in my life meant taking off the weight (Hebrews 12:1).

“Therefore we also, since we are surrounded by so great a cloud of witnesses, let us lay aside every weight, and the sin which so easily ensnares us, and let us run with endurance the race that is set before us,” Hebrews 12:1

In the past year, the Lord has opened my eyes to just how much my obesity was literally what Hebrews 12:1 describes as a besetting weight—an encumbrance—that hindered me from running the race that was set before me. The Lord opened my eyes to the fact that if I didn’t get my body under control I would not be able to serve the Him well while I did continue to live on this earth. I was already too out of shape and too old in body to play with my children. I was so large I couldn’t hold a baby, a future grandbaby, comfortably and certainly couldn’t enjoy myself playing on the floor with a toddler. Moving around was exhausting. While my weight wasn’t yet really hindering my teaching ministry, I believe it presented a barrier to others as it screamed a lack of self-control (one of the fruits of the Spirit), which is not what a Christian should exhibit. There was also a desire I have had since I was 17 years old to do mission work. The Lord has not yet led me to that, but now that my youngest children are getting older, the idea of going on short-term mission trips appears to be within reach. But I knew that I was just too big to travel comfortably and knew that I would be miserable in primitive conditions without air conditioning and having to walk significant distances. So had I limited God’s plans for me? Would my work in the church be limited as I grew older because I had brought disease and pain into my life by my neglect or over-indulgence of my body? I came to see that as much as my weight hindered my service to and for God, clearly Satan was elated. I had already provided some victories for Satan in this area. How could I let that continue?

So I prayed and repented. I asked that God would help me to learn how to treat my God-designed body with the respect it deserves and to permit it a measure of recovery in dedicating it to His service. So now my weight loss really was less about me and more about Him.

We’ll continue soon with the next lesson, so please check back!

By Cyndi Murphy

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