I was walking through the airport when an incredible aroma suddenly grabbed my attention and taunted, "Do you know how happy I can make you?" A candy shop had just made a fresh batch of nutty, caramel popcorn.
There's nothing wrong with caramel popcorn except that it definitely wasn't on my healthy eating plan to which I'd committed. I felt my knees get weak, because I love caramel popcorn. I started to rationalize buying this special treat, thinking, "I can't get this flavor at home, and I'll take half home to my kids. What harm will a little caramel popcorn do?" I felt an extreme gravitational pull straight to the object of my desire in that moment.
The only thing that stopped me was redirecting my thoughts away from the popcorn and onto a new truth God had been teaching me: desperation breeds defeat. This truth was the perfect match for my temptation and helped me walk away.
In the book of Genesis, the Bible tells an interesting story about twin brothers who illustrate this point. The elder son, Esau, was favored by his father, Isaac, because of his prowess as a hunter. In contrast, the younger son, Jacob, was a quiet homebody.
One day, Esau returned home from an unsuccessful hunting trip totally famished, and demanded some stew from his brother. "I'll give you food," agreed Jacob, "but first, trade me your birthright." Esau replied, "Okay, I'm so hungry, I'm about to die." So Esau traded the honors due to him as the firstborn son for a simple meal of stew.
Upon first glance, it's easy to ridicule Esau's decision. I cannot imagine selling my whole birthright for a pot of soup. But I had to look at my own life and ask, "What great thing have I traded for so little in return? How often do I trade healthy food for junk food? What temporary pleasure have I craved so much that I gave up lasting victory?"
Desperation does indeed breed defeat. But God promises answers for desperate situations in 1 Corinthians10:13, which is the key verse in this devotion.
The "way out" that God provides is the ability to decide in advance what I will and will not eat each day.
I plan my meals right after breakfast when I'm feeling full and satisfied. The absolute worst time for me to decide what I'm going to eat is when I've waited until I'm depleted and feeling hungry. So I prepare a healthy snack to have on hand or keep in my purse.
When I'm unprepared or I've rushed through a proper meal, my stomach screams for something quick. And quick options usually come in a variety of unhealthy temptations, just as I experienced at the airport. However, that day I had decided ahead of time that I would keep an apple in my purse for a snack, rather than trade my healthy progress for something like caramel popcorn.
Let me be clear. I'm not saying that we should flee food. However, we must prevent the control that food can take over our lives. In my book Made to Crave, I unpack the reality that we were made to crave God, not food. To crave means to desire greatly and to think about intently. Interestingly, we are reminded in Matthew 6:33 to, "seek first His kingdom and His righteousness..."
I was shocked to discover the original Greek word for seek is "zeteo," which means, "to crave." In other words, we were made to crave God first and foremost. In a practical sense this means consuming food without letting food consume me. It means never trading my identity- my birthright -the victorious woman I'm meant to be, for any kind of temporary physical pleasure.
If we purposely begin to think before we eat, we'll be better able to see the "way out" that God promises when we are tempted. And keep our cravings centered on God alone.
Dear Lord, I acknowledge that I need You. I need You in my times of desperation and I also need You in times of jubilation. Help me to think ahead so I won't be weak when I am faced with a desperate situation. In Jesus' Name, Amen.
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