When some men at church invited my husband to join a weight loss challenge, I was sure he would turn them down. We had never dieted, not exercised in years, and were just recovering from a herniated disc in his neck.
To my surprise, he accepted the challenge, googled diet and exercise plans, and handed me a 7-day, 1800 calorie, 3 meal and 3 snacks menu to follow. His enthusiasm was catching. Our three kids even eagerly adopted oatmeal or boiled egg breakfasts and enjoyed the parade of vegetables and salads each night.
But I remember that first grapefruit tasting especially bitter. And the mounds of leafy green things seeming overwhelming. And the 5:30 am alarm for his 6 am trip to the gym ringing much too loudly.
My husband determinedly met each new day with fresh resolve to see this through. For eight weeks, we followed “the plan.” It worked beautifully. He lost 11 kg (over 24 pounds) and won the challenge!
Strangely, now that we are free to not follow “the plan,” we find that we want more grapefruit! It now tastes sweet and refreshing. Those leafy green things have become a favorite appetizer and exercise makes an invigorating start to the day.
In our kitchen this morning, we discussed how God gave us literal food as a picture of spiritual food. Physically, we are learning to love the foods that are good for us. To appreciate the creaminess of plain yogurt, the nutty crunch of muesli, and the delightful flavors bursting from each fresh berry! Because we have learned to enjoy and appreciate healthy foods, they will become a part of our lives long term.
Spiritually, we should also learn to love what is good for us. As Isaiah 55:1-3a puts it:
Come, everyone who thirsts,
come to the waters;
and he who has no money,
come, buy and eat!
Come, buy wine and milk
without money and without price.
Why do you spend your money for that which is not bread,
and your labor for that which does not satisfy?
Listen diligently to me, and eat what is good,
and delight yourselves in rich food.
Incline your ear, and come to me;
hear, that your soul may live;
Spiritually, God’s words are what is good for me! God’s glorious gospel costs nothing, satisfies and provides life to my soul.
But let’s be honest. The Psalm 1 type of “delighting in the law of the LORD and meditating on God’s law day and night” does not come easily or overnight.
Perhaps there is merit in forcing oneself into what is healthy. These verses say to listen diligently, incline our ears and come to God: all actions one can take. So the discipline of making myself feed regularly on God’s word is surely a great place to start.
But when I miss out on the Isaiah 55 “delighting” in this “rich food”, then my efforts begin wear on my soul and result in only short spurts dependent on my own strength. Spiritually, I must learn to love what is good for me.
How? Not that I have really arrived, but I think these truths from Isaiah 55 could help.
1. Come to God, instead of just reading a book.
Isaiah 55:6 Seek the Lord while he may be found; call upon him while he is near;
2. Believe God’s words are vital.
Have faith! I must trust God with all my heart that His words contain the wisdom and direction I need for my life.
Isaiah 55: 10-11 For as the rain and the snow come down from heaven
and do not return there but water the earth,
making it bring forth and sprout,
giving seed to the sower and bread to the eater,
so shall my word be that goes out from my mouth;
it shall not return to me empty,
but it shall accomplish that which I purpose,
and shall succeed in the thing for which I sent it.
3. Enjoy the awesomeness of a God who can always be known more deeply!
There’s always more of God to know.
Isaiah 55: 8-9 For my thoughts are not your thoughts,
neither are your ways my ways, declares the Lord.
For as the heavens are higher than the earth,
so are my ways higher than your ways
and my thoughts than your thoughts.
Time with God and His Word is incomplete if I haven’t communicated back to God. Through prayer and/or worship, I should respond to Him.
Isaiah 55: 12 For you shall go out in joy and be led forth in peace;
the mountains and the hills before you shall break forth into singing,
and all the trees of the field shall clap their hands.
Love what’s good for you. Love God and love His word.