I have a long-standing love affair with sugar. I come by it honestly. You could say I inherited a wicked sweet tooth from my dad and an affection for all things chocolate from my mom. I cannot remember a time when refined sugar did not serve as celebration in moments of triumph, a bribe when trying to motivate myself to accomplish some distasteful chore (no pun intended), or comfort on sad or stressful days.
There is just one very big problem. As much as I love sugar, it does not love me back. In fact, it is rather cruel, unkind, and frighteningly damaging to my physical body! I may have skated by in earlier decades but have needed to make more concentrated attempts in recent years to be disciplined, keeping my consumption of the sweet white stuff to a minimum. Somehow, even with my best efforts, it always creeps back into my world. And I find myself feeling really lousy. Again.
Weight gain, headaches, belly aches, joint pain, mood swings, highs and crashes. Always reaching for the next sweet nibble that never satisfies and inevitably suffering more damage. It isn’t pretty! And sadly, filling my stomach with empty calories leaves little room to hunger for natural foods with the critical nutrients my body needs to thrive.
Especially after an indulgent holiday season, the battle begins again in my head. How can I make better choices? What is the best way to care for my 50-something body responsibly? I know sugar is my fiercest enemy, but do I really need to give it up completely? Can I find a happy medium, an “everything in moderation” place to land?
I never know the right answer. Ever. I swing from one extreme tactic to another or give up entirely and binge on all the wrong things. The vicious cycle leaves me feeling defeated, helpless, confused – and quite honestly, shockingly alarmed by how much this dialogue raging in my head consumes me! There is not a day that goes by when I do not struggle to make the right decisions about food. There is not a moment when I feel at peace about the state of my physical body. And that’s exactly when I know this is a much bigger problem!
This is not just an issue with my physical body. This is an issue in my heart.
I gulp back the realization. It scares me to see the breadth and depth of this life-long wrestle. Fear grips me as I wonder if the enemy of my soul has been using this battleground to keep me chasing my own tail for far too long!
I reach in the only direction I know I can trust. I cry out to the LORD to help me solve this riddle once and for all!
Then, my ray of hope seems to flicker and I second guess that reach too. The maddening voices sing an unwanted refrain, “He doesn’t care about what you eat. Or the shape of your body. Where is the eternal value in any of that? There are no exact dimensions for our physical bodies given in the Bible, and no precise diet specifications. If He doesn’t set goals for your physical body, then why should you? Just pull yourself together (again) and focus your conversations with Him on more important things!”
I can almost feel His Spirit groan, heavy and deep within me, as this all too familiar tailspin rages on. Thankfully, His truth rings louder and truer. Oh, yes, He cares! The LORD is my Savior, but also my Creator. He fashioned all of me, heart, soul, mind, and body! Every part of me is important to Him. And I can be assured, without question, that anything that consumes my mind, anything that distracts my heart and plants seeds of doubt and defeat, is critically important and eternally significant to Him! His own Spirit intercedes, yanks me from chasing my own tail and prompts me to reach again for His answer!
Show me the right path, O LORD; point out the road for me to follow.
Lead me by Your truth and teach me, for You are the GOD of my salvation.
All day long I put my hope in You.
Psalm 25:4-5 (NLT)
I believe part of His answer is coming in Wendy Speake’s new book (releasing in just a few days!), The 40-day Sugar Fast: Where Physical Detox Meets Spiritual Transformation, published by Baker Books.
Wendy shares many of the same struggles with sugar. She holds very strong convictions about which practical changes and disciplines in her diet will serve her best, physically and otherwise. But this book is not a “how to” guide. Although Wendy offers a few practical suggestions, her book does not give anyone a road map or a diet plan. There are no strict instructions. No promises or guarantees.
Instead, this book holds a precious invitation – to commit the next forty days to focused conversation with the LORD, to ask Him for His plan for me, as I navigate my own very personal battle with sugar (and/or the ways the enemy is using sugar to defeat me).
If sugar is my battleground, then the welcome is clear. Take a break! Retreat from the heat of the battle to a safe place. Rest. Check in with my Commanding Officer. Receive some fresh training and perspective. Be still and listen for His next steps of instruction. Trust Him to show me His path and to equip me to succeed in that plan!
I appreciate so many details about the layout of Wendy’s new book. She welcomes us to journey with her for forty days, the same amount of time the LORD JESUS spent in the wilderness, battling the same enemy of our souls! Each day, just as JESUS did, she incorporates Scripture to speak truth, life, and allegiance to the Father into our growth process. She encourages deep thought and prayer. And she shares her own personal stories to let us know we are not alone in the fight!
I love that the desired result is not a specific weight goal or fitness accomplishment. More than anything else, Wendy longs for us to tune our hearts to the Savior, to experience a deeper and truer relationship with Him. She is confident that this intimate dialogue will yield His very best plan for each of us to navigate whatever battleground we face. Regardless of the specific outcome, His desire is always that we rest in His care, trust and obey as He leads, and be open to receive His most precious gifts – ones we will recognize more clearly as we lean on Him and not ourselves!
It is good to have a frame for this journey, a defined forty days of focused dialogue with the LORD about a specific battle. This marked endpoint inspires confidence that the commitment is “doable!” But Wendy is also praying the discipline to hush all other voices and hear only His will continue long after forty days. She firmly believes time invested alone with the LORD will not only bring victory in our battles but lasting transformation in our relationship with Him!
I can honestly say I am weary of this fight. I am desperate for a once-for-all answer to my life-long battle with sugar. I really want to know what my Creator and Savior has to say about it! When I stop to really think about it, there is NO other source of guidance I trust.
It has taken me weeks of asking for His help to reach the starting line. But, I believe He has prepared my heart to begin an earnest 40-day journey with Him on this issue – starting today, exactly forty days before my next birthday. I know this dedicated time with the LORD will be treasured and productive, the very best birthday gift I could ever give to myself!
O GOD, You are my GOD; I earnestly search for You.
My soul thirsts for You; my whole body longs for You
in this parched and weary land Where there is no water.
Psalm 63:1 (NLT)
Do you have a struggle that consumes you more than it should, leaving you weary or defeated longer than you realize? Would it help you to know the LORD cares about those challenges? That He longs for you to simply ask Him what to do next? Even if sugar is not your fiercest enemy, there are thought-provoking and deeply encouraging truths worth pondering in Wendy Speake’s The 40-Day Sugar Fast: Where Physical Detox Meets Spiritual Transformation. You will find a warm and friendly companion in Wendy. She will take you by the hand and lead you to priceless moments alone with the Savior! I am grateful for her passion that inspires others to embark on this journey.
I received a complimentary copy of Wendy’s book from Baker Publishing, as part of their “Baker Books Bloggers” program, but my own personal response to its content is reflected in this review.
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