OK, so clearly I have been a blogger slacker. It has taken me far too long into the New Year to get it together again after the holidays. I have decided that my Milk-Dud, Nacho-eating night fests must end, as my jeans barely make it past my thighs. And the few pairs that I am still able to barely zip up reveal shocking evidence of the dreaded muffin-top. Not a good look. I'm sick and tired of fighting with my closet and coming up with creative outfits to hide my growing midsection. Even my Spanx don't fit.
So I've decided to try the "Four Hour Body" diet. I hate fad diets and haven't done one in years. The last one I did was Atkins. And after only two days into it I remember waking up in the middle of the night so lonesome for carbs that I ate an entire loaf of bread. That was the beginning of the end of Atkins. I think I successfully gained 1 pound. As for this dumb diet, there are only 2 reasons I agreed to do it: 1. I can still drink wine. Very necessary. 2. I get one cheat day per week. Gives me something to look forward to.
Not only have I missed hitting the gym, I have also missed quite a bit of church throughout the holidays and have gotten into the habit of being consistently inconsistent. I allowed that little voice in my head convince me to stay home in my pajamas instead of curling my hair and going to church. So, I have been feeling both spiritually bankrupt AND chubby. But all that changed when my AMAZING pastor Thomas from Kairos Church helped me put it all back into perspective during one of his recent sermons. It was based on Jesus' parable about the mustard seed:
I've heard the parable a thousand times, but this time... by George, I think I got it!
Let me break it down... Many of us truly want to make a difference in the world and want a better relationship with Jesus but often spin our wheels because we just don't know how or where to begin. I personally get all "gung ho" and then tend to fizzle out if I don't see where my little actions are making a big difference. I often end up frustrated and fall off the proverbial Jesus wagon. I totally just made that up. Hence, out of complete and utter vexation, I decide that I'm not making a difference anyway, so I put my quiet time with God, Bible study, and volunteerism on the back burner which in-turn leads to me living quite selfishly and feeling vapid.
Sometimes I think that since we are a results driven folk, we forget that God is walking beside us the whole time, using every act of love (big or small) towards His ultimate plan. I have to remind myself that I'm not Jesus. I can't save the world. Only He can. He absolutely calls me to help but not to take over and cry like a baby when things don't change overnight. Maybe I can't save the homeless, but giving up before I try because it seems so overwhelming is a cop-out. God wants me to start with a mustard seed, which is taking that first step towards reaching out where others are in need. Yes, that one day a month or whatever we can commit to makes a difference. We may not see it right away but that's not the point. Serving is not about seeing the results of our good deeds. When God is at the center of our service, we will give wholeheartedly and selflessly let go of what we get out of it. May it be a pat on the back or the success of a growing ministry.
This type of thinking reminds me so much of the familiar yo- yo dieting scenario... Let's say you have to lose more weight than you are willing to admit. You get all "gung ho" when you hear of a new diet that you just know will be the one to melt away those pounds. So, you kill yourself at the gym and eat nuts and berries. But by the third day you are clearly not any different from the first. After all, we are the "want it now" generation. So out of dire exhaustion, hunger and defeat you decide to do a Dairy Queen drive by. It is an immediate fix. But when you wake up the next day you are filled with pangs of guilt. The hole in your heart is still there! Oh, why did you eat that? The regret is palpable. All would be right with the world again if you only stuck to your diet! That darn Oreo Blizzard didn't fill up the empty space in your soul for long. Hello, REALITY CHECK!! What is up with that toxic thinking?? Even when and if you do lose the weight- that hole in your heart will still remain. No nut, berry or Blizzard will ever make it go away. Only the elusive mustard seed will. (So,as it relates to dieting, the mustard seed would be taking the first step towards a healthy self image, which would be to love ourselves as God loves us and to want what is best for our bodies. God can grow us new hearts out of a mustard seed. One that loves the body and wants it to look and feel its personal best no matter what size it may be. There is no need for deprivation or unrealistic expectations.)
Yes, the Kingdom of God is like a mustard seed... It is not floating around on unrealistic lofty goals that result in God's unyielding love and favor. He loves you like that already. He wants us to remember the mustard seed- aka the first brick laid in the Kingdom of God. If He wants you to have a successful ministry or to save the children, believe me, He will grow it out of your mustard seed. But it is up to us to take the first step. But we don't have to take big steps to reach Him. God is not all or nothing. He wants to walk with us no matter what phase or season we are in our lives. Even when we are down and out. Even when we are slackers who know we ought to be in church or doing more for our communities.
He is so faithful. He never gives up on us. His nagging absence in our hearts will never abate until we walk towards Him. I love how He crawls right down in my hole with me and says, "Don't you know I am sitting right next to you on your couch even though you're not at church? I love you so much and that is why I am putting this tug in your heart to come and be with me. It is not for you to feel guilty, it is for you to know that I long to be with you. You don't have to save the world for me to love you. I love you whether you get off this couch or not. But I want you to get up and experience the life I have for you. I created you to love others as I love you. We live in a fallen world and my heart weeps at what I see. One day I will return and set things right. But until then, I need you to do my work. All I ask is for you to live your life out of love. Love is the mustard seed. Now rise..." I just had one of those outer-body typing moments where it felt like the Holy Spirit was taking over.
All good things have to start somewhere. Begin with your mustard seed. Water it with God's Word and watch it grow!
"You did not choose me, but I chose you and appointed you so that you might go and bear fruit—fruit that will last—and so that whatever you ask in my name the Father will give you."
With all my love and prayers,