“I can do it myself.” How many times does a mother of toddlers, children and teens hear that statement? How many times have we as adults told that to God? The real truth is we just can’t, not without Him.
When a three-year-old Sally wants to tie her OWN shoes, there’s no way, Mom can effectively help her. She might as well sit back and wait.
One of two things will happen, Sally will miraculously get the shoes tied or she will have a fit because she can’t do it, cry herself out and then ask Mom to do it for her.
Mom, who has been patiently waiting all this time making lunch or doing whatever, will gladly stop and show Sally step by step how to tie her shoes.
Did Mom have the power to tie Sally’s shoes all the time? Of course she did.
However, a wise Mom knows tying Sally’s shoes when she’s convinced she can do it herself would be akin to wrangling snakes. And if Mom did manage to hogtie Sally and get the shoes tied, Sally would probably untie them and try to tie them again herself.
The only correct course in this situation is to wait for the toddler’s surrender, so Mom can utilize her strength to either do it or teach Sally how to do it. Will she learn it the first time? No, Mom will have to help her, remind her of the steps.
The next time Sally will remember more and more, until eventually she’s doing it pretty much by rote memory.
I so relate to this illustration. I am Sally in most everything. And God is my patient Mom teaching me what to do in each situation until one day I can do it knowing He’s still there if I get in a bind.
Trying it my way
Being a super morbidly obese woman for at least 20 years of my life, I tried everything to try to fix my dilemma.
God told me the way I could begin to be healthy, but I wanted to tie my own shoes. I thought surely there is a better way, an easier way. Surely, that was just a suggestion. I can do it myself my own way.
I would go on a different diet, fail, regain the weight and cry out to Him for help again. He would give me the same answer.
He had already shown me the plan. It never changed from the first time He told me. He was just waiting for me to get over my Sally fit and realize I really needed help.
I would get frustrated at my ineptness and so, of course, I would eat all the things I knew I should lay down if I really wanted to lose weight.
The problem was I had not really surrendered my weakness for sugar and breads to Him. Sure, I could give them up for short times, but I couldn’t fathom giving them up for the rest of my life.
I knew God told me in 1977 to “Stop eating sugar. Eat more meat, fruits and vegetables and stop eating so much bread.”
It sounded impossible. And yet I knew the scripture, “What is impossible with man, is possible with God.”1
I also knew, “If you have faith as small as a mustard seed, you can say to this mountain, ‘Move from here to there,’ and it will move. Nothing will be impossible for you.”2
Still, there was a great disconnect about how all of this could and would happen in my life.
Time and again I would whine to God. He would either tell me what He’d just told me or would be silent. I felt I was talking to an empty sky and an impotent God.
In effect, I had rendered Him powerless by my I-can-do-it-myself attitude. See, even though I was asking for help, I hadn’t surrendered the one thing He had clearly showed me during my prayer time to stop.
I rationalized it as a suggestion because surely He couldn’t mean that I had to give up something I loved so much for the rest of my life.
The truth is, He knows me so well,3 that He knew the only way I would be successful in releasing the weight was giving up what I had become a slave to—processed sugar.
In His direction was embedded the message of free will. I asked what I needed to do. He told me. However, I have the freedom to choose to do it or not do it.
I didn’t feel I was cut off from God in other areas of my life, but I know beyond a shadow of a doubt, He was not willing to promote me in the areas of my dreams if I could not follow this directive.
God promotes those who are ready, those willing to follow His suggestions for abundant life.
My personal belief is this wasn’t an ultimatum. I wouldn’t go to hell for not giving up sugar. It was His wisdom and direction for my life.
Out of resources
It took me coming to the end of my resources before I surrendered processed sugar. It was with trepidation, but it was also with this total knowing that God has the resources to help me through this journey.
God knows us and nothing about is hidden from Him.4 “But I, God, search the heart and examine the mind. I get to the heart of the human. I get to the root of things. I treat them as they really are not as they pretend to be.”5
I pretended to be surrendered. I sang I surrender all. I said I made Jesus my Lord, that I was filled with His Spirit. However, God knew there was a locked pantry of my heart I wouldn’t let Him in to purge and rearrange.
At that moment of surrender when I realized I was like an alcoholic only with processed sugar, I surrendered. I laid processed sugar on the altar. I clearly saw the life it had robbed me of.
Processed sugar was no close friend like I always saw it. It was my nemesis. And with God’s strength in this area I would overcome it.
Moment of Change
It is hard to explain the moment of change. It’s a moment when you are going one direction and you turn around and go the other. I was headed towards an early death by over indulgence. I turned around and headed towards life, overflowing.
I went home and the first thing I did was surrender my stash of candy to my son, who is very controlled in that area. I also knew if I told him to hide it and not give me any he would follow my directive. I did and he did.
It was as if in that one act, God’s power kicked in for this area of my life. In my prayer time that day, I invited Him to remind me when I was going astray. He has many times on this journey, most of the time I follow.
There have been times I have ignored His still, small voice saying to me, “What are you doing?” I would know exactly what I was doing. During those times, His power for saying no never left me. It was always there to call on when I would take the first step and once again repent
Tapping into grace
The times I’ve failed have been few, but there have been times. Each time when I would get back on the marked journey path, He would propel me forward even faster.
His grace was always there for me. As Kris Vallotton says, “Grace is the power to do what I couldn’t do one second before.”
Tapping into the grace is as simple as totally surrendering my way for His.
My favorite verse of late is where God tells Paul, “My grace is sufficient for you, for My power is made perfect in your weakness.”6
People have said to me, I can’t do what you did. I’m not that strong. My reply to them is, “No, you’re not yet weak enough for this journey.”
Our weakness is our strength. When we lay down trying to fix everything, control everything with our own limited resources, we fail miserably.
Most of us keep our stash in reserve even in our minds. God knows when we’re doing it. We aren’t hiding from Him.
We can’t have our cake and eat it to. We can’t say we’re giving up and ask for His help, but have no intention of walking it out.
He won’t do it for us, but He will do it with us when we have totally changed our mindset.
Laying down our own abilities, is when we tap into His strength. If we have even a modicum of strength, we try to do it our way instead of God’s. That’s why God left the thorn in Paul’s flesh. It was the one weakness Paul had that meant he had to rely on God.
God is a jealous God. He wants our attention. It makes Him sad when we worship false gods that we feel can give us comfort. Why do we do that? The Comforter has come.7 We don’t have to run to food or drugs, alcohol, pornography, tobacco and any other things we put in His place.
We have Him. He’s all we need.
I’d love to know if you’ve had your moment of change. Please share where you are on the journey, in the comments below.
1 Luke 18:27 NIV
2 Matthew 17:20 NIV
3 Psalm 139 NLT
4 Hebrews 4:12-13 NLT
5 Jeremiah 17:10 MSG
6 2 Corinthians 12:9
7 John 15:26 KJV
Sweet Change 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. Also, get a free chapter of her memoir at Teresa Shields Parker.com. Connect with her there or on her Facebook page.