Wednesday, February 22, 2012

# 3 My Struggle. Galatians 5:23, "The Fruit of the Spirit is....self-control."

If you have noticed the last week or so I have posted two different meditations. The reason for this is because I was having a conversation with a friend, and to be honest I was complaining about facebook. Well....he told me that instead of complaining about it, I should do something about it. This is the reason for my recent posts - I have been challenged to bring meditations on the Word of God to facebook; and I thought that Lent would be a good time to do this.

While I understand that Lent has not yet arrived, it was my desire to put 40 meditations on facebook throughout Lent. In order to do this I took a head start:) Some will read it, some will not. My goal is very simple - that I will be drawn closer to the Lord and that perhaps someone else will as well.

Since Lent is a time for self-reflection, I thought that tonight I would write about my own struggle. My weight. For many years I avoided this subject matter in my own meditations. however, I can ignore it no longer. There have been too many times when I have been dismissed because of my weight. A good friend of mine who also happens to be a parishoner once said to me, "Pastor, I was praying for you and I was thanking God for you as my pastor...and I said to the Lord, 'so he has this one issue [meaning my weight]'s no big deal!" Now, he absolutely meant this as a compliment. He was telling me that he appreciated me as his pastor; however, in this compliment it was also made clear to me that my weight can be a stumbling block to people in the faith. Perhaps never stated this bluntly, but something akin to, "who does he think he is?? He can't even control this part of his life!"

Now, please do not take this as me fishing for compliments or ideas about, "don't worry pastor - we love you!" That's not why I am writing. I am writing to simply inform that I too struggle in life - and for me my weight is a serious struggle.

Recently I have lost weight. For the first time in a long time I am eating what I consider to be in a healthy way. And I must tell you that spiritually, not simply physically, I am renewed. In Galatians 5 the Apostle Paul lists the fruit of the Spirit. Within that list comes one word that was always a conviction to me, "The fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faith, gentleness, and self-control. Against such things there is no law." It was self-control. Some issues are hidden - mine couldn't be. I literally wear it every day.

Those that are not overweight do not understand the stress that those of us that are go through. Picking a chair in a restaurant. Getting on an airplane. Going to an amusement park. One of the most difficult days in my life was going to Kings Dominion with some of our youth and absolutely knowing that I could not ride on many of the was utterly embarrassing.

On top of all of this, I knew that I did this to myself. There was no one to blame but me. Many times I asked for forgiveness; and many times I received it. Then, many times I fell off the wagon.

The comments simply kept coming. I recently went to an evangelism conference where I was given a speaking responsibility. Many people that I did not know came up to me and thanked me for the words that I spoke; and yet many of them also came up to me and said something along the lines of, "pastor...those were powerful words...and I really think you have to deal with your weight. Remember you have a family...." Oh the pain such statements bring. Not because I think people are being cruel - I don't. They are simply making it clear to me that they see the glaring problem in my life. And they care enough to tell me.

So what is this all about? Well, for the past four months I have eaten differently. I have lost weight. I need to lose a lot more. This is my struggle. It helps me understand others' struggles. It gives me empathy. But it also gives me determination. I pray that the Lord will give me the strength to exhibit the self-control that He has already granted me in His Spirit. Amen.

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