When I was seven years old I realized I was a sinner. I had stolen candy from the grocery store. I repented, asked Jesus into my heart and was saved from the fires of hell.
My question is, though, when did I really become a new creation in Christ? “Therefore, if anyone is in Christ, he is a new creation; old things have passed away; behold, all things have become new.”1
All I wanted at that point in my life was fire insurance. I got that and so much more. I got grace.
I had no concept of the power and depth of grace. I didn’t know what I would do later that would require grace.
I was a good Christian. I didn’t drink, do drugs, smoke cigarettes or marijuana, party with the rowdy folk or even think about having sex before marriage.
I followed all the rules. I prayed, read my Bible and went to church every Sunday. I did everything the preacher told me to do. I did good.
I even thought I was in proper relationship with God. But I hadn’t done the one thing He told me to do back in 1977. See, my problem with weight gain was beginning back then.
I cried out to Him asking how can I remove this mountain of flesh. I sensed He gave me His answer. It’s written in my journal.
“Stop eating sugar. Eat more meats, fruits and vegetables. And don’t eat so much bread.”
But I felt I could never do that because I love sugar and bread so much. Fast forward 30 years. I have tried everything on the face of the planet to lose weight. Some have worked and some have left me realizing my problem is deeper than any “fix” man can come up with.
I needed a God intervention. Through a series of events I was led full circle back to God’s original design for what would work in my life.
It would require surrendering the food I grew up with, the food that comforted and supported me through every trial. It would mean finally placing all my eggs in God’s basket.
He promised to be my Comforter, Teacher, Counselor, Guide, Protector, Provider and Companion. Did I believe He could do that better than sugar and bread?
It was in this moment of decision that I began my real faith journey. It is a risk to step out in faith and wonder where you will fall. I learned I fall right into the arms of grace.
Yesterday we had had a long day traveling. We got to our destination about 8 p.m. and hadn’t eaten supper. When we pulled up to one of our favorite restaurants, the sign with pancakes drenched in strawberries and whipped cream pulled me like nothing else.
I was hungry. What would this one time matter? I deserved it. I needed it. We went in and knowing I had made an agreement with God and myself to eat the right things, I ordered my favorite grilled chicken salad.
The real test came when the server brought the banana bread which comes with it. I always give to my husband, but he was in the bathroom. I could eat it and he wouldn’t mind.
These thoughts rolled around in my mind. I really wanted it. The waiter had sat it right in front of me. It really wouldn’t get me what I wanted in the long run which is health and that close relationship with my Lord. I pushed it over to my husband’s side of the table and sighed.
As I did I heard the Holy Spirit speaking gently to me, breathe out the things that you need to avoid, breathe in my presence. With each breath I was reminded of His presence.
I was reminded that I am becoming a new creation.
Is it hard to surrender what you crave? Yes, it’s hard. But it’s the easiest hard thing I’ve ever done because the Holy Spirit strengthens me each step of the way.
I love Mercy Me’s song, “Wishful Thinking” because of the line that says “Without suffering grace is hard to see.” That is true of those of us who have lived a blessed life.
Suffering may come in different ways. It may mean going deeper with Him. It may mean giving up something you crave but your church condones (such as donuts on Sunday morning.) It may mean going against the grain of what your friends are doing.
What it does means is pressing in to Him so deeply that nothing else matters.
The questions becomes not so much one about salvation, but about relationship. Are you in a right relationship with Christ? Will you do what He says? When will you do it?
A mentor of mine explained that the less time there is between when God tells you to do something and you do it, the more God will show you.
I want there to be no lag time. I want to be that new creation that is so close to God I hear His heartbeat and follow it. If I don’t, I become old again and there is nothing within me that wants that ever again.
1 2 Corinthians 5:17 NKJV
Sweet Change Weight Loss Coaching & Accountability Group is Teresa Shields Parker’s new group on living healthy through a total renovation of body, soul and spirit. Teresa chronicles her journey in the memoir, Sweet Grace, and the practical application workbook, Sweet Grace Study Guide. Right now Sweet Grace for Kindle is on sale for $4.99 for a limited time. Also, get a free chapter of her memoir at Teresa Shields Parker.com. Connect with her there or on her Facebook page.