“My problem is…”
I hear this this almost every day. What follows is usually, at best, partly true.
“My problem is I have a bad knee.” “My problem is I have a bad back.” “My problem is…”
At one time I said this too, prior to my recent journey to reclaim my life. Twenty months ago, I was faced with a new reality. Based on the average lifespan, my health, and the average expectation of the effects of my health, I had only 15 years to live. I would not see any of my grandchildren graduate from high school (I have 8 and 1 on the way). There was a possibility that I would not see all my grandchildren before I died. That was a problem, but that was not MY problem. My blood sugar levels were averaging around 260 a day (normal is 70-100). My triglycerides were tested at 490 (normal is under 150). Certainly that was a problem but still not MY problem.
My problem was not that I had failed to make a decision. I had made a decision. I decided I could do whatever I wanted. I could eat whatever I wanted. No, my problem was that I had made a bad decision. One that was life threatening. One that would affect my quality of life, my relationships and my witness. I decided to squander God’s gift of life. Think about it. If God had intended for me to live to the average lifespan of an American male, I had cut off about 15 years through my decisions. I thought I could do something with those 15 years yet I was willingly surrendering those 15 years for what I thought was pleasure. Ironically, the truth is the last 10-15 years of my shortened life I would be dealing with a systematic breakdown of my physical body.
If my problem was that I made a bad decision, then making a good one was really my only hope. Two days after I was informed of the hard cold facts of my new reality I made a decision. I decided that I did not want to live sickly and/or on drugs. I wanted to live out the years God had intended for me and I wanted to live them to the fullest. I also wanted to have a life that could deliver the message of the gospel without my lack of health being a distraction. Did Jesus really intend for me to be fat, out of shape, depressed, and sick? All four of those things are a problem but it was my willingness to accept those in exchange for gluttony and laziness was the real problem. I frequently hear “My problem is….” with an excuse attached, but I have never heard anyone say “My problem is gluttony and laziness.”
My second observation on health is that many people hate the reality that they are in and know they should and need to do something but they cannot decide to do the right thing. I recognize these people when they say one of two things.
(1) “I plan to start a new diet or a new exercise program on Monday” or on January 2nd. What they mean is “I feel so guilty that I overeat the wrong foods and I am too lazy to move off the couch that if I set a day that will never arrive then I can eat whatever I want and do all the nothing I please between now and then.” Again, “then” never comes.
(2) The chicken method to health fitness is the second thing I see. “I decided I would cut back on sodas” or on bread (or some other item). It really sounds logical and even believable, but for most of us it’s just a mask to the problem. We have not decided how we are to live healthy, productive lives. I wonder if we try this spiritually, would it work? “God, I am a sinner and I decided that I want to be saved from my sin and your wrath so starting Monday I will not steal anything. That means of course, I will still have other gods, idols, lies, cheats, hatred, covetousness…” When Jesus calls us to repent, did He mean veer slightly to the right or left or did He mean turn completely?
There are a lot decisions that are multiple choice in life. Where you go, what you wear, what you eat, what you do, who you marry… But some things are one or the other. All the above or even neither is not an option. Who I worship and serve is either God or not God. “Will I do my part to be healthy?” has only 2 possible answers. Yes, I will or no, I won’t. When I decided who my Savior was and to serve Him followed by my decision to honor Him with all things including my body I no longer had a problem.
Twenty months after making the decision to be a good steward of my body and eat right and exercise, I do not say “My problem is…” anymore. By the grace of God, I lost 65 pounds, walk 2 – 4 miles a day, play basketball twice a week, and volleyball and ultimate frisbee every chance I get. I feel great everyday, and am enjoying the blessing of abundant living. Lord willing, I will not only see my grandchildren graduate, I will still be playing ball with them! Am I challenged? Absolutely! Is it a problem? Absolutely not!
Why do I care so much that so many ignore this truth? It troubles me greatly that I can outrun many who are 20 or 30 years younger than me. There is a problem. I have friends who I love that continue to bury their heads in the sand. They know they are out of shape and they are suffering. Some of them are rotting at the core and have chosen to ignore it. One person in particular, I suspect, has a curable disease but refuses to go to the doctors. They would rather be miserable and die young than change. Just as there are severe eternal consequences to ignoring Christ as Lord, there are severe consequences to making excuses and ignoring our responsibility for our health. By speaking out, I have lost friends. Their pride is so great that they are blind to my concern and my testimony. Face it, why would I risk my relationships with those I care about if it was not so important? I tell people the truth because I love them. Loving them the way they are but also also loving them enough to encourage them that there is a better decision to be made.
What did you decide? Time to make a choice?
My friend, I recommend you choose life.
“I call heaven and earth to witness against you today, that I have set before you life and death, the blessing and the curse. So choose life in order that you may live, you and your descendants, by loving the LORD your God, by obeying His voice, and by holding fast to Him; for this is your life and the length of your days, that you may live in the land which the LORD swore to your fathers, to Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob, to give them.”