As of 2015, the average life-span for an American man is 76.4 years old, while American women come in at 81.2.¹ Due to the advancement of modern medicine, Americans are living longer than they ever have before, despite the increasing rates of poverty, disease, crime, and violence that we hear about, see, or experience almost every day. If I do the math, I have approximately 29,368 days/52,5600 minutes/2,589,100,000 seconds here on this earth. Although this seems like a lot, there is no denying that our time is short.
I genuinely believe that God used the onset of my eating disorder to save me from pursuing the wrong things in this life. He saved me from pursuing a life that was primarily focused on health and fitness, which would consist of working out, eating “clean”, attaining my ideal body type, and maybe even starting a fitness blog (Ha….funny how God works..:)
I can’t count the amount of time I have wasted working out at the gym, counting calories, worrying about my body, the opinions of others, my size, and my health. In addition to those things, I have wasted worrying about situations that I can’t control. At the beginning of the year I really started to notice that so many of my thoughts were consumed with things that wouldn’t matter in eternity. I knew that I wasn’t condemned for thinking about worldly things, because God’s word promises that there is no condemnation for those who are in Him. I knew that God would lavish his grace and mercy on me every day, just as His word promises. Yet…..something didn’t feel quite right. I didn’t feel condemned or guilty…I just felt upset. I knew that I could have been sacrificing a little more of my time to spend with the Lord. I knew that the things I wasted hours worrying about not only hurt my relationship with God, but they also crippled me with fear and anxiety. I knew that I was longing for something more than a grilled chicken salad and a 3-mile run. I knew that a lot of the time, I was wasting my time here on this earth. I would choose working out over spending time with God, my friends, or family. I would rather spend 3 hours in the kitchen cooking a “perfectly” healthy meal than having to eat something bought in a box. Clearly, my priorities were out of line, and the Holy Spirit made that known in my heart.
I stumbled upon a few verses in God’s word that woke me up to the reality that my eyes were not fixed on eternity. In the oldest Psalm in the bible, Moses prays to God for wisdom, direction, and discernment about how to live his life here on earth. He prays, “Teach us to number our days, that we may gain a heart of wisdom” (Psalm 90:12). I think it is easy for me to feel young and invincible, and to push aside the fact that my time here is short and is going by quickly. The bible also addresses this issue in Romans 13:11-14. Paul writes, “And do this, understanding the present time: The hour has already come for you to wake up from your slumber, because our salvation is nearer now than when we first believed. The night is nearly over; the day is almost here. So let us put aside the deeds of darkness and put on the armor of light. Let us behave decently, as in the daytime, not in carousing and drunkenness, not in sexual immorality and debauchery, not in dissension and jealousy. Rather, clothe yourselves with the Lord Jesus Christ, and do not think about how to gratify the desires of the flesh.”
After meditating on these verses for a few days and really digging into what the Lord was saying, I realized a couple of things:
- God was calling me to live out my life on this in reverent fear of Him, with my eyes fixed on heaven and not on myself.
- I realized that I was constantly thinking about how to gratify the desires of my flesh, rather than taking those thoughts captive and turning to God’s word, my source of life, direction, and truth.
- I was fearing man more than God.
- I needed change, but I couldn’t. I needed God to intervene and save me from a pursuit of things that are temporary and worthless when compared to the kingdom of heaven, and He did just that.
When my eyes are fixed eternity, when I make time with Jesus a priority, when I am convinced of the gospel, and when I am engaging with my friends, family, and strangers, I simply don’t have time to worry about the superficial things that used to mean so much to me. I am proud to say that I would rather spend time with Jesus, my friends & family, and my sweet puppy than spend hours at the gym. I do believe that exercising is a part of a healthy lifestyle, but I now often find myself cutting my workouts short just so that I can actually go and live my life. I no longer feel the need to spend hours in the gym to try and manipulate and control my fitness level. I am willing to eat food that I wouldn’t necessarily choose for myself so that I can share a meal with the people I love. I am willing to die to myself in order to gain something that is so much more important and satisfying: community with God and his children. When this is my mindset, my idols of control, my body, my exercise routine, my schedule, my grades, and everything in between all start to fade out of my mind. Everything dulls in comparison to the glory of God.
I still don’t manage my time perfectly, and balance is a constant struggle in my life. I do, however, seek God’s direction and guidance in each day, and I am much more open to the direction of the Holy Spirit, only by the grace of God. My prayer for you and I is that the Lord would teach us to number our days and free us up from the things that are wasting our time and dragging us down.
Where the Spirit of the Lord is, there is freedom. I am free from the obligation to buy into the health-crazed fitness culture; I am free from the temptation to try and micro-manage, manipulate, and control every aspect of my life; I am free from the enslaving thoughts that encourage me to satisfy my flesh, despite what God’s word says; I am free from the opinion of other people; I am free from sexual immorality; I am free from the trap of the prosperity gospel. Each day, more and more, I am being set free from the bondage of my eating disorder. I am free, and you can be too. There is freedom found in Jesus.