20 Nov Food & Idolatry
I have always had a slightly disordered perception of food. As a teenager, I ate without giving it much thought. The only caveat was calories. I never looked at ingredients or bothered with the nutrition (or lack thereof), but I constantly checked the number of calories.
I bought into the “low-fat, no-fat” craze along with the rest of the world. At the same time, I struggled with stomachaches that were almost paralyzing at times. I was afraid to try new foods or to eat with other people, because I feared the possibility of getting a stomachache. The stomachaches created anxiety, which created stomachaches, which created more anxiety! Food became an idol for me; something that I worshipped and gave power to. It was a difficult season and it ultimately exposed sin that I didn’t even know was there. A few years ago, God was gracious enough to bring physical healing to my stomach. Some of this came by cutting out certain foods, but mostly it was spiritual and I feel like He genuinely just healed me. It was a gift of His grace.
In the years since, I have still struggled to maintain a proper relationship with food. It drives me crazy that God works miracles (like a healed stomach), and we somehow corrupt them anyway. For me, I swung from one end of the pendulum to the other. I no longer counted calories, but I read labels like crazy. I read nutrition blogs, followed healthy cooks & bloggers on social media, and genuinely enjoyed learning about what heals and what hurts our bodies. My interest in nutrition can be a good thing – a great thing even! God has entrusted me with this body and I want to own that and take responsibility for it. But if I’m honest with myself and with the Lord, I can admit that I took things too far. When I was growing up, I was enslaved to food because I didn’t want to eat anything that would cause me to gain weight or get a stomachache. Years later, I realize that I am still enslaved to food, but now the concern is that I would eat something unhealthy that might harm my body. It’s tempting to believe that this is healthy – that I’m just trying to take care of myself and make wise decisions. To a degree, that’s true, but I’m learning that deep down, it’s just another attempt at control. It grows out of the same proud unbelief and can spread like a weed throughout every area of my life.
It’s tempting to believe that this is healthy – that I’m just trying to take care of myself and make wise decisions. To a degree, that’s true, but I’m learning that deep down, it’s just another attempt at control.
It’s been a humbling process and the Lord has been gracious throughout, but I’ve reaped consequences for my sin. He has shown me in numerous ways that food alone has no power over me. We live in a fallen world and so there are food allergies, digestive issues, and the like – but even in those things, He is sovereign and in control. Over the years, I forgot that. Food became a means for me to control my body & my life; it became a stronghold and it was a tough one to break. There has been a ton of freedom but I’m still not entirely there. There is still a part of me that’s tempted to give food more authority than it deserves, and God is taking me back along the path of refinement in order to remind me that He alone is in control. He gets the final word.
I’ve been reading in the book of Isaiah and was in chapter 41 this week. God is calling out false idols and basically asking them to prove themselves. When they can’t, He declares that idols are “less than nothing and can do nothing at all. Those who choose them pollute themselves” (Isaiah 41:24). For me, it was a firm reminder that food is powerless on its own. That doesn’t mean that I eat McDonald’s every night because “God is in control!” but it does call me to rely on Him for discernment. I have to depend on Him for wisdom and freedom, because if I’m left to my own devices, I’ll corrupt wisdom into rigidity or freedom into lack of discipline. Instead, I must recognize that food is a gift and our bodies are temples, but neither one is God. He alone is God and He alone deserves my worship.
-Anne Boyd, Pelham
Grace will be launching the latest Ezer study: Body Matters in February 2015. For more information on the study or to stay connected, click here: http://gracechurchsc.org/