Saturday, February 05, 2005


Last summer, I endured a five-week low-carb diet. I’d planned to stay on it much longer, but my doctor decided otherwise. I went to see him about a staph infection--something I’d been struggling with for about six years--and he warned me that my body couldn’t fight the infection if I didn't provide it with a varied enough diet.

I pretended to be disappointed. I think I said something like, “Well, wise Doctor, since you know best . . . I’ll do what you say.” I slumped my shoulders, gave a reluctant nod of my head and even sighed, just for show. But actually, inside, I was jumping for joy. I missed fruit. I missed vegetables. I missed bread and potatoes and rice and noodles. And I just loved my doctor for telling me to start eating those things again.

As I was leaving his office, Dr. Sun gave me a last little lecture. “Moderation. Don’t starve yourself and don’t eat too much. A little of all of it, okay?”

I ran to my car and raced to the grocery store. I believe I entered the parking lot on two wheels. Once inside, I made a bee-line for the produce section. And then I screeched to a halt, frozen by the magnificent sight before me. The roof parted, an angelic choir made that "Ah . . . ah!" sound, and a shaft of heavenly light shot down and illuminated the stuff of my dreams: mangos and grapes, peaches, nectarines and Brussels sprouts. Yes, Brussels sprouts. I just stood for a moment and stared at the luscious bounty. And while I stood gaping, God gave me an interesting analogy.

My diet had been the law. Do this, but don’t you dare do that. Don’t even think that. No touching, no tasting. I obeyed those rules. I stayed faithfully within the parameters of my diet, but I didn't do so with any kind of joy. Heavily shackled, I obeyed strictly under compulsion.

And now, suddenly, with a few beautiful words from one who knew much more than I would ever know about such matters, I was free--free to enjoy everything my eyes landed on.

That's similar to what happens when we give up the law of being good and switch to the law of grace. Because of Jesus, it’s not about “don’t do this and don’t taste that” anymore. It’s about freedom to enjoy life, enjoy others, and especially, to enjoy God. With that freedom, however, comes responsibility. Not everything is good for us. And contrary to what we'd like to believe, we don't have all the answers about that. All the trouble starts when we think otherwise. If we want spiritual health, if we want to grow and mature, then we need to come to God daily for guidance. He knows more than we ever could about these matters. He'll help us choose wisely and live in moderation.

Take a moment to absorb this fact: Because of Jesus, you have a free will. Look around you--life is there for the taking. He’s cut your chains and freed you. That means you've been given the ability to choose the manner in which you will live and love and serve. The only question remaining is, what will you do today with your freedom?

"I can do anything I want to if Christ has not said no, but some of these things aren't good for me. Even if I am allowed to do them, I'll refuse to if I think they might get such a grip on me that I can't easily stop when I want to."
1 Cor. 6:12 (TLB)


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