Saturday, May 5, 2012

Food, Fear & God

Photo Credit

Years ago, before I decided to incorporate healthier choices into my lifestyle, I used to joke around by saying this:

“It seems like everything causes cancer; and everything else prevents it.”

This was simply my exasperation with all the conflicting and confusing opinions about the dangers (and cures) of the world we live in. It seemed like the normal pattern was that a new amazing product hit the shelves, then six months later there are scientific studies explaining why that product is a detriment to health. The same process seems true for food, specific diets, medicines and so on.

If you have been following my posts for any length of time, you will know that healthy living is important to me. I talk about using natural products, choosing whole foods and organic products when possible. I believe this is all important.

But I also believe in balance. I find it discouraging to live with a mentality that everything is killing us. Actually, the simple fact we live in a fallen world means that we are all in the process of dying…eventually. I just choose to focus on the fact that God has also blessed us with opportunities to live and live life to the fullest. (John 10:10)

I wanted to address this issue because it is so easy to fall into fear when learning about natural living. Fear is never a good motivation to accomplish anything. In fact, it is a root of idolatry and it will hinder our blessings. An idol is something that demands our time and our trust while drawing our attention away from the true Source of life, joy, security and peace – God. Whether we love it or fear it, if it is not from God (and fear is never from God), then it is an idol.

The balanced perspective I desire to maintain is summarized in these points:

1) We have a responsibility to make wise choices.
I am a full believer in free-will, cause and effect, choice and consequences. And I believe God is too. His Scriptures are full of examples of His people choosing righteousness and being blessed or choosing sin and suffering the consequences. God even communicates the importance of our choices with admonitions like:

Do not be deceived, God is not mocked; for whatever a man sows, that he will also reap. For he who sows to his flesh will of the flesh reap corruption, but he who sows to the Spirit will of the Spirit reap everlasting life. (Galatians 6:7-8)
I call heaven and earth as witnesses today against you, that I have set before you life and death, blessing and cursing; therefore choose life, that both you and your descendants may live…(Deuteronomy 30:19)

God also provides instruction in His Word in regard to how we care for our bodies. In some cases, a specific diet is revealed (Leviticus11, Daniel 1), in other instances God condemns gluttony and drunkenness (Proverbs 23:19-21). We are also told our body is a temple.

Or do you not know that your body is the temple of the Holy Spirit who is in you, whom you have from God, and you are not your own? For you were bought at a price; therefore glorify God in your body and in your spirit, which are God’s. (1 Corinthians 6:19-20)
It is important to God that we choose wisely how we care for our bodies. Why? So that His blessings of health and long life can flourish, allowing us to do His work and bring glory to His name. That is why we live at all. To glorify Him!

I do not want my careless choices to hinder me from serving God and honoring Him with my life. If I know I need 8 hours of sleep to be energetic and productive the next day, I better get 8 hours of sleep. If I know certain foods make me feel sluggish or affect my mood, then I should not be indulging in them. I should make choices that allow me to offer my best to God every day.

2) We cannot control everything.
The other side of the coin – we cannot control it all. We DO live in a fallen world. Our planet IS decaying. As a result of sin entering the world thousands of years ago, it is a fact that nothing is perfect and many things are just downright horrible.

God desires for us to live abundantly during our life on earth. He desires us to be healthy, happy and prosperous. But at the same time, Satan does not. He is always attempting to bring destruction to people. Sickness, pain, and calamity are all his handiwork.

And sometimes it seems no matter how much good we do or how many wise choices we make, the fallen nature of this world still touches our lives.

So what do we do?

3) Entrust God with EVERYTHING.
We deceive ourselves if we think eating all the right foods, never using plastic and avoiding synthetic products is going to ensure our life is perfect. We cannot make choices out of fear of products that might cause us harm. Those simply are not wise choices.

The only One deserving of our trust is God. He is the only one powerful enough to protect us from harm, reverse negative side-effects, restore brokenness, ensure prosperity, supply our needs, comfort us, love us….He is our Source for EVERYTHING good!

He is also our source for wisdom when making decisions. I have learned am still learning how to give things over to Him. Everything. Even the tiniest details. It doesn’t come naturally. I have to make a choice to trust God for guidance and wait for His answers.

When it comes to natural living, God has shown me some key things to change in my lifestyle that have improved my daily well-being. Other things, I know I do not need to concern myself about. Perhaps those changes will come later. Perhaps not at all. I just know that God knows the length of my days and the plan He desires for me. He will reveal the daily details that fit in that plan.

Trust in the LORD with all your heart, And lean not on your own understanding; In all your ways acknowledge Him, And He shall direct your paths. (Proverbs 3:5-6)

Trust in the Lord, and do good;
Dwell in the land, and feed on His faithfulness.

Delight yourself also in the
And He shall give you the desires of your heart.
Commit your way to the Lord,
Trust also in Him,

And He shall bring it to pass.

4) God’s will for me (you) is like everyone else.
This is so important to fully understand and believe. When learning new lifestyle changes (especially by reading blogs or learning from friends) it can be tempting to take on their convictions as your own. But don’t! It is possible to learn about something without adopting that ideology.

Spend some time praying about what you read, hear and learn about it. Find out first if it is a concern to God for your life. And wait for an answer. We always have to be open to hearing answers we do not like! Change is hard sometimes. And there ARE standards of living that apply to everyone (avoiding things like excess, drunkenness, engaging reckless and harmful behaviors...) We must be ready for God to ask us to confront any harmful habits and remember He desires for you to choose LIFE. There are other details to living that are not so black and white (use plastics or not; use conventional shampoos or not). But God does have an opinion about those things for each of us.

Once we have an answer from God about your lifestyle choices, we have to be careful how we communicate this to others. I admit I find this difficult. When you think you have the right answer, you want to share it, right?! I do too! But it takes wisdom to know how to share and with whom to share it.

Just as God exercises grace, mercy and compassion to us, we ought to others. In my experience, God doesn’t tell me everything I am doing wrong all at once. He teaches me progressively. He knows my limits.

Think about the mom working 50 hours a week plus caring for the children and home. It can be discouraging for her to hear it is a disservice to her family to feed them store-bought bread instead of homemade (with freshly ground and soaked grains).

To the family who struggles paycheck to paycheck, circumstances and finances may prevent them from enjoying a diet rich in organic and completely natural foods. Should they be met with condemnation or compassion?

Or those individuals who have the time and means for a more natural lifestyle and just don’t do it -- are we right to judge them? Nope. It’s none of our business.

My hope is that when I share about my lifestyle, it comes across as simply that. I offer tips, suggestions and encouragement for those who do want to give it a try. Otherwise I hope to never condemn the choices others make. (If I do, please offer a gentle reminder that God’s will for me is not the same as yours!) I also hope to never instill fear into others when I talk about reasons for avoiding certain things. There is no benefit to that.

Going Forward
Since I use this blog to share about my life, I will only spend time on the things that are relevant to me. I will share decisions I make along with the reason I make them.

Sometimes I make changes based on the cost-saving benefits. Sometimes I do want to avoid harmful chemical in products. Sometimes I just want to add in healthier options. It may appear I am not consistent in my choices. And maybe I’m not! But I am still learning and taking things a step at a time.

In everything I share, know that just as I am learning to discover the richness of life God has for me, He desires the same for you too. It will look different than my life, but do not be afraid to ask Him and open yourself up to change. He ALWAYS supplies the grace we need to grow.

Embrace Him, trust Him and live fearless.