Meet GRACE. Grace is divine, a gift from God to you. He offers new life based on nothing you have to offer. There is no way to earn His affections or coax His love for you. He already delights in you and befriends you. The fact that you are overweight and feel like such a failure doesn't impact Him. When you fail, He says, "Not to worry. I am with you and we can start afresh. Lean on Me, not on your own strength. I am strong when you are weak. I have a plan and purpose for your life that I'm dying to reveal."
This guy seems too good to be true, you think. Perhaps there is a catch. But as you become more acquainted with Grace, you see He is authentic. There is no pretending. He is compassionate and He cares deeply. And He has the capacity to be intimately involved in your life. His friendship and promises are mind-boggling. Apparently He has quite the reputation for being "The Man," despite His feminine name. One reason relates to His astounding ability to see sin, not excuse it, but love anyway. He hangs out with the failed, the most desperate, and the most defeated. He walks along, holding their hands and pours out healing salve, mercy, and hope. Grace is shocking in the way He upholds the unlovely.
Grace's passion for you is so powerful that it overcomes your fears. Grace understands the angst involved in doing what you hate-overeating, dieting, gaining momentary control, and overeating again-and says, "Hey, you can't do this on your own. There are healthy ways to eat, but you won't make it with self-imposed rules. I am here to help you change your life, not just your eating. Without Me, it's pretty hopeless-a sort of grit-your-teeth-and-hang-on existence. You need Me in your life. Take me on your journey."
According to our reports, Grace was recently spotted having lunch with a bunch of overeaters. Many were downright obese and had given up hope for any future joy. But Grace didn't seem to be embarrassed. His kindness was so refreshing. And His eyes...well, all you could see was compassion.
Patiently He listened as the group recited their various individual struggles from a week of dieting. Then He gently spoke, "Wow, all you talk about are standards and rules-Never mess up the diet. Don't touch chocolate again. Condemn yourself if you fall into temptation. And these rules seem to be written in stone! You guys need a break. These laws and rules are guidelines for eating, but they are impossible to keep all of the time. When you mess up, acknowledge it, turn from it, and start over.
"With My hope, you can keep moving toward the goal. However, remind yourself about Me. I'm going to be here every day. Without Me, your heart will condemn you. But I won't withhold any good thing from you if you walk uprightly."
Stunned, the group sat in silence. One brave woman spoke. "I've never met anyone like you. My friends and co-workers judge me because of the way I look.
They say I am fat and lazy and will never be promoted. You say You have good things for me? By the way, did You notice I weigh 280 pounds?"
"I noticed," Grace replied. "But I fail to see how that relates to My offer. Apparently you don't get it. I'm not basing My care for you on anything you do or on how you appear. I would love your devotion in return, but it isn't contingent on Me loving you."
"OK!" an angry man yelled back. "How much is this going to cost us? What's the bottom line?"
"The cost has already been paid. You were bought with a price. What I have, I give freely. There is no additional cost. It was a one-time deal. Paid in full. Sealed"
Who is this marvelous friend? John 1:17 reveals Him: "For the law was given through Moses: grace and truth came through Jesus Christ." The grace of God is revealed through the divine person and work of Jesus Christ. He both embodied grace and benefited from grace. By His death and resurrection on the cross, Christ brought salvation to each of us and restored our broken relationship with God. The Holy Spirit, called the Spirit of grace (Hebrews 10:29), is the one who binds Christ to us so that we can receive forgiveness, adoption, and new life.
As we "lose it for life," we must remember that God's grace abounds in our lives. He is for us, not against us. He cheers us on to victory, and He uses others to pour out that grace in our lives as well.
Counting the Costs
Grace is an amazing gift from God. But it does not entitle us to a free ride with no effort on our part. Losing weight and keeping it off under a shower of God's grace still requires small amounts of sacrifice and pain. It's going to cost you more than just developing some good intentions, which people usually have when they approach weight loss. However, in our experience, few people really think through all the ramifications of their weight loss decisions up front.
Do you recall the story of Jesus and the rich young ruler found in Matthew 19:16-22? The story illustrates the importance of counting the costs before you make your decision. In the story, there is a rich young ruler who approaches Jesus and says, "Good Teacher, what good thing shall I do that I may have eternal life?" Jesus answers by stating five of the ten commandments and adds that the man should love his neighbor as himself. The young man acknowledges having done all these things and further asks, "What do I still lack?" To which Jesus replies, "Sell what you have and give to the poor...come, follow Me." Suddenly, the rich young ruler feels the weight of what he has been asked to do. (Ironically, he doesn't feel the weight of this when Jesus recites the commandments to him. He should have felt the weight of not loving and worshiping perfectly. He does not, so Jesus tries another avenue.) It's one thing to be good and keep the commandments, another to give up what he already has (or thinks he has). You see, his wealth really wasn't his problem. A divided heart was the issue. He wasn't sure he could give up his security for the promise of eternal life. Sadly, he did not follow Jesus because he concluded that the cost was too great.
Do you see the parallels? Whenever you make a decision to change things about your life, there are costs to consider, and your heart cannot be divided as you decide. Notice the specific answer Jesus gives. There is no question what is required-total surrender. In order to live a life #ff0000 by your weight, your heart condition is critical. Your weight isn't the root problem. Oh, it's tipping the scales too high or causing you distress; we understand this. But there is more to losing and keeping off weight than meets the eye. The good outcome you desire requires changes of behavior, thinking, and the heart.
Even though this might be difficult to accept, it should be a source of hope for you. Other diet books or plans have not helped you because they have addressed only one aspect of the problem-what is going into your mouth. And you have likely proven that for a specific amount of time you can change what you eat. But it is a change of heart that sustains change in terms of what you eat and fuels a desire to find the weight that is right for you. Heart change is not easy work, but it is easier than staying where you are and experiencing the same frustrations and failures.
We want to be clear from the start: There are no magic pills to offer you. We have no gimmicks, no quick fixes; there are no melt-away-the-pounds creams or cookies that fuel your metabolism into burning like the blazing sun. But there is a path to follow that will transform your life and bring about a stronger, clearer sense of you, as well as healing, renewed thoughts, and meaningful connections.
The above piece is an adaptation from Lose it For Life by Steve Arterburn M.ED. and Dr. Linda Mintle. Nashville, Integrity Publishers, 2004.
Thank you for taking the time to read this article. We hope you found it informative and encouraging. We'd consider it an honor if you would let us help you follow the path that leads to a transformed life. Please explore join us at our next New Life Weekend to learn how you can Lose it For Life.
Stephen Arterburn is the founder of New Life Clinics, the largest provider of Christian counseling and treatment in North America. As host of the daily New Life Live! radio program, he is heard nationally on over one hundred and eighty stations and at www.newlife.com. Steve is the creator of the Women of Faith® Conferences and is the author/coauthor of over thirty books, including Healing is a Choice, Lose it For Life, The God of Second Chances, Every Man's Battle, Avoiding Mr. Wrong, Reframe Your Life, and Midlife Manual for Men.