No cross – no loss!

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I was thinking about the well-known saying we hear so often banded about in health and fitness circles these days: “No pain – No gain.” It made me smile because, although I knew very well the way in which these words are meant to apply to our lives, most of the people following the Fit For Life Forever ‘Stop Dieting ~ Start Living’ course are wanting to lose, not gain! (weight, that is, if you’re a bit slow on the uptake today!) Then, quick as a flash, this thought dropped into my mind: “No cross – No loss.” Of course, both thoughts, although using words which are opposites, carry precisely the same meaning. What each is saying is that here is no easy road to reach our goals; that if we are to make our noble aspirations good, then somewhere along the way our flesh is going to suffer!

Jesus said, ‘My yoke is easy and my burden is light’ but, make no mistake, a yoke is a yoke and a burden is a burden. Our natural tendency will always be to shrink back from anything that might mean self-denial. When we take up Christ’s yoke we immediately become tied to the will of God; when we pick up His burden, no matter how light it promises to be, it will probably be irksome to our flesh nature. Only when we come to the place of delighting to do His will, does it then become light.

Let me tell you now that, even after five years of seeking to have a Spirit-controlled appetite, there are still times when I simply want to rebel! Usually it’s the ‘lust of the eyes’ that gets to me – just seeing something that takes my fancy, which I want to eat simply because it’s been offered to me or caught my attention and I feel I must have it –now! And it isn’t that the food is ‘forbidden fruit’ for I really believe that providing I have inner peace about it, I can eat any food I want, within reason. No, rather it is that at that particular moment my body has no need of further sustenance and therefore to eat, no matter how nutritionally beneficial that food might be, would be to ignore the clear messages my body is giving me.

The Cross, which speaks of self-denial will always be at odds with our carnal nature which only ever seeks self-gratification, and over-eating is just one of many in which ‘the flesh’ seeks expression. If we are to succeed in our weight loss goals, or indeed any other health-related goal such as exercising more, we shall need to ‘buffet our bodies to bring them into submission. (For buffet you need to pronounce the ‘t’ – but food-lovers like to read it the French way! Pardon the pun!)

Self cannot crucify self; we are powerless to help ourselves. When we endeavour, in our own strength, to do the will of God, we always fail; when we try to resist the magnetism of tempting food by will power alone, we inevitably cave in. When faced with the option of slouching in front of the TV or weeding the garden it is easy to say, ‘I’ll do it tomorrow’. But God has given us an answer: the power of a resurrection life! When we consent to the Cross we give permission for the Christ-life to gain ascendency within us; when we present our bodies to become a living sacrifice, it may at times feel exactly as it sounds – a sacrifice! To do the will of God means that, if need be, we are prepared to suffer but God will always show Himself strong on our behalf if we trust Him. And really, there is no other way. Remember, all you aspiring weight losers – no Cross – no loss!

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