Several years ago, I had just given birth to my first child, a beautiful (and huge) baby boy whom we named Bradley “Cole.” As joyous as we were over his birth, it was absolutely devastating to me that I’d gained over sixty pounds (more than double the amount of recommended weight gain) during my pregnancy. I’d had the baby, but the weight was still there!
Honestly, the weight itself wasn’t the biggest problem. I knew that I was heavy, but even more than that, I knew how I’d gotten there. I was bound again to an eating disorder that had nearly taken my life just a few years prior. I was alone and in pain. I was once again in bondage to an eating disorder that was consuming my life! As the saying goes: Eating disorders aren’t as much about how much food you consume, but rather how much food consumes you!
Unmistakably—I was consumed! It was the first thing I thought about when I woke up in the morning, and the last thing I thought about when I went to bed, not to mention all the hours in between. If I wasn’t thinking about eating, I was thinking about not eating. The more miserable and depressed I became, the more I buried my pain under more food. Soon everything in my life was falling apart! I’d allowed food to become my God and I knew that was a sin and I knew better.
Knowing that I couldn’t continue to live like this, I decided to get serious with God in prayer! Night after night, I would sit and rock my newborn baby, praying that God would deliver me! When he was asleep, I would sit alone in my chair and just cry. When no one was around, I would lay face-down on the floor and plead for God to help me. I had been asking God to deliver me and change me, day after day, week after week, but no answer! It was like God just wasn’t hearing me!
One afternoon, in all of my misery, I decided to leave the baby with my mom and escape to do some shop therapy…something else I knew better than to do! But it was there in Wal-Mart that something defining happened that would forever change my outlook on prayer!
Anthony and I were in the check out line just waiting for our groceries to be rung up when a friend of my husbands came walking up to us in line. I can’t really tell you his name. I just called him the Wal-Mart guy because that’s the only place we would ever see him. He didn’t work there…we just happened to run into him almost every time we were there shopping. Anyways, he walked up to Anthony, put his hand on his shoulder, and said “Good to see ya’ man!” Then looking over at me, pointing at my [still] enormous belly, he said words I’ll never forget, “Hey, not much longer huh?”
It didn’t take him but a moment to realize that he had just stuck his foot so far down his throat that neither he, nor I, could breathe. The room seemingly stopped. It was all the nosey cashier could do to bag faster and not look up. The “Wal-Mart guy’s” eyes were as big as saucers as I imagine his heart was probably beating out of his chest. My knuckles were turning white and my eyes welled up with tears. I could envision myself literally leaping over the cart between us and pummeling the man half to death- I wanted to “lay hands on the man suddenly!” All I knew was to write that check and get out of there before I broke. I knew that given my already unstable frame of mind and roller-coaster emotions that I had better just get to the car! I wrote my check and tried desperately not to look at anyone- especially him. I didn’t know what I wanted to do worse…scream, hurt him, or squall like a baby! I nearly ran to the parking lot!
But then—somewhere between the double exit doors of Wal-Mart and my parked SUV— God spoke to me in an undeniable way. Almost instantly, I was reminded of every tear I’d shed about my eating disorder, and every prayer I’d prayed concerning my weight gain. I could literally see myself lying face down on my floor in tears, crying out for God to help me! Then, as I began loading my groceries into the truck, He brought my attention to all of the junk I’d just purchased at Wal-Mart—cookies, ice cream, desserts…
And then… an all-too-familiar scripture went scrolling through my mind—one I’d preached dozens of times before—the one found in 2 Chronicles 7:14:
“If my people, who are called by my name, will humble themselves and pray and seek my face and turn from their wicked ways, then will I hear from heaven and will forgive their sin and will heal their land.”
I knew exactly what He was telling me!
Later that night, I got alone with God and He was kind enough to illuminated two very important words to me in this scripture: if and then. As He pointed out: that passage didn’t say that God would hear from heaven, forgive their sin, and heal their land, and all they would have to do is sit there and look pretty while praying about it. No, it said if the people of God would do three things, 1) humble themselves, 2) pray, and 3) seek His face, then God would do three things that they were asking, 1) hear, 2) forgive, and 3) heal their land.
In other words, IF I wanted to be delivered, and IF I wanted to lose weight, THEN I would have to eat differently. IF I was going to change, THEN I would have to get off of my complaining, excuse-making backside and DO something about it. Praying for weight loss was pointless if my prayer was followed by a pint of Ben-n-Jerry’s ice cream!
I guess you could say it like this: this is where the rubber meets the road. Are we just praying that God will deliver us or are we willing to get into agreement with what He calls for us to do in order that we might be delivered?
Let me put it to you this way: Are your actions consistent with your prayers?
Mine weren’t! I was asking God to deliver me of my food addiction but then telling him to keep away from my food! Its kind of like a porn addict asking God for deliverance and yet refusing give up his favorite magazine or lock up his computer! Or a cancer patient asking God for healing while continuing to smoke 3 packs of cigarettes a day! Or an unfaithful wife asking God to improve her marriage but not being willing to end her extramarital affair!
Friend, our actions MUST be consistent with our prayers! God wants to help us, but we have to be willing to do our part. I’ve heard it said this way: If we’ll do what we can do, then God will do what we can’t do! There are things that are required of us before we can expect God to intervene. This is not because God wants to exercise dictatorship over us; He simply wants us to turn to Him and trust Him. It is through our obedience to God’s commands that we show Him that we love Him, that we trust Him, and that we are ready and willing for Him to come into our situation and do His part. And when we do that, then and only then can we fully expect that He will show up, being faithful to His word, and work on our behalf.
“IF my people…THEN will I hear from heaven…”
Dear Lord, forgive me. Forgive me for asking You for one thing while doing another. Help me to keep my actions consistent with my prayers! Oh…and one more thing…thank you for caring enough to send me a wake-up call through my Wal-Mart guy that day! I love you too!