WEIGH DOWN: CRASH COURSE ON HOW TO FALL IN LOVE
Now for the crash course on how to fall in love. Well, how did we fall in love with food?
What happened was that our hearts became enslaved to food by obeying the food. When the potato chips called our name from the pantry and said, "Hey, come eat me," we found ourselves listening and obeying. When we drove down the street and the #3 combo from the fast food restaurant called our name, we found ourselves obeying by pulling into the drive-through. When we thought about a great steak dinner, we felt our emotions rise. Our pulse rate went up. Our senses were alert to the voice and presence of food (popcorn popping, steak sizzling, corn boiling, and candy wrappers opening). Our mind thought about recipes and dinners every spare moment, including times when it should have been concentrating on the job at hand. We found ourselves dressing for eating occasions, preferring elastic outfits with no belts! We looked for opportunities to be in the food's presence. We looked forward to times alone for a binge. We found ourselves showing outwardly recognizable emotions when we thought about dessert or chips and dip. We would do anything to get to food and find it no problem. Cooking something is always a pleasure. Being separated from food brings sadness. Slowly but surely, this describes the state of your heart. Your heart is an emotional, feeling entity. Does all this sound parallel to the crush I described earlier?
We love the master that we obey. And we obey the master we love. We cannot love both God and food. Either we will hate the one and love the other or we will love the one and hate the other. Do not kid yourself-you cannot be in love with God if you are in love with food! And do not expect God to believe that you are in love with Him at the same time you are in love with food. He knows better.
Even though the thought and smell of food is what got me out of the bed in the morning years ago-now all my senses are given over to God. I dress for Him. I can sense (even though I do not see Him) when He is near. I can kind of tell when He is calling me to read His word. All senses are alive for Him. One workshop participant told me that she does not call it coincidence anymore, but "God-incidence!"
Notice that there is nothing inherently wrong with alcohol, tobacco, food, credit cards, tranquilizers, and sexual desire. What is wrong is with our heart. Tearing up the credit card is not going to keep our heart from materialism. Making the food have less fat is not going to make our heart less greedy for food. Locking someone up in a detoxification center to bring them down off alcohol or substance abuse is not going to fix their heart.
We fell in love with the food by giving it our heart, soul, mind, and strength, which is included in this one behavior called obedience. We obeyed it. It called us from the bed in the morning, and we used our strength to prepare it. We also used our strength to force more of it down into the body than the body called for. We gave it our mind all day long by looking through recipe books and discussing the latest diets with our friends, asking, "What do you get to eat on your diet?" We lusted after the foods that were on the menu, and we gave our hearts to the 10 o'clock binge.
To convert this love for the refrigerator-we need to obey God. Every time we obey God with regard to food or with anything He is putting on our heart to work on, we will fall more in love with Him. Partly, this is because "He rewards those who earnestly seek him" (Hebrews 11:6). (Note: we are to earnestly [with a true heart] seek Him-not His money or His power-but Him.) And part of the reason we fall in love through obedience, or keeping His commands, is that He answers the prayers of those who obey Him. John 14:14 says, "You may ask me for anything in my name, and I will do it."
Consider again Deuteronomy 8:2: "Remember how the Lord your God led you all the way in the desert these forty years, to humble you and to test you in order to know what was in your heart, whether or not you would keep his commands." From the context of this passage, it looks like obedience is a big factor in knowing what is truly in our hearts. This assumption is backed up by the words spoken by Jesus. He said it first one way and then He would turn it around and say it another. You would think that He was making sure that we got the message while He was down on earth. Take a look:
"If you love me, you will obey what I command." (John 14:15) "Whoever has my commands and obeys them, he is the one who loves me. He who loves me will be loved by my Father, and I too will love him and show myself to him." (John 14:21)
"If anyone loves me, he will obey my teaching. My Father will love him, and we will come to him and make our home with him. He who does not love me will not obey my teaching." (John 14:23,24a)
"As the Father has loved me, so have I loved you. Now remain in my love. If you obey my commands, you will remain in my love, just as I have obeyed my Father's commands and remain in his love. I have told you this so that my joy may be in you and that your joy may be complete." (John 15:9-11)
We know that we have come to know him if we obey his commands. The man who says, "I know him," but does not do what he commands is a liar, and the truth is not in him. But if anyone obeys his word, God's love is truly made complete in him. This is how we know we are in him: Whoever claims to live in him must walk as Jesus did. (1 John 2:3-6)
So obedience is certainly one major-if not the major-way to measure the love in our heart for God and to make love for God grow in our heart. After all, it is what we use for knowing if our children love us, trust us, and respect us. Obedience is also the acid test for employers to know the hearts of employees. Patronizing obedience and false love are always easily detected.
The obedience that God calls for is obedience to His commands. So what are His commands? First, to love Him with all our heart. Second, to love our neighbor as ourselves. Does this sound like we are going in circles? It kind of does to me. It looks as if the genuine article-the heart that truly does love God-will, at the same time, be obedient by loving God and others. Love and obedience walk hand in hand. They feed each other so that your love for God and other people grows more and more.
For my own Desert of Testing, it was only because I loved Him that I obeyed Him in the beginning. The beginning was very hard, and it brought many tears and much pain to rip the idols out of my life. Once I had obeyed Him, I loved, trusted, and respected His commands even more and loved the idols less. This made it easier the next time. With each bite of food you push away out of pure obedience to God, the more you will love Him. The next sacrifice will be easier as you see more and more rewards coming from the Father. Love is inevitable as you obey Him. The love for food will disappear-salvation! Salvation from your old master (food) and permission to give yourself to God.
From reading the Old Testament, you notice that the Israelites went in and out of worship to idols. As a result, God would then enslave them to the wicked surrounding countries. After a burdensome and painful enslavement, they would repent and turn their hearts back to the Father, and He would free them. So obedience and freedom go together, as do disobedience and slavery. That is true with you and food. Disobedience and miserable dieting go hand in hand. Obedience to God using hunger and fullness (or a lack of greed for food), as well as freedom to eat what you want, also go hand in hand. Obedience is not the destination of our desert journey. Rather, it is the means to the end: the love of God.