As my friend tells it, the whole ruckus started over the fifth cookie. We were at Mom’s Group, a small gathering of moms with young children, when her daughter begged for just one more cookie.
Unfortunately, she’d already eaten four others, and my friend was afraid that the preschooler might become physically ill if she ate any more. So, my friend said no like a good mom who is always looking out for her child’s well-being.
However, her daughter saw the “no” as coming from a mean mommy who wanted to limit her fun and pleasure. She wanted that fifth cookie, and she wanted it bad! How could her mommy deny her such a good thing?
A loud power struggle ensued as my embarrassed friend removed her daughter from the room for some discipline.
When my friend recounted the incident later that day during our parenting class, I realized something important – sometimes I’m like the preschooler who wants the fifth cookie!
We’ve talked before here in this space about how God creates boundaries for us because He loves us, not to keep us from experiencing pleasure or to deny all our wants. He creates boundaries simply for our own protection, much like my friend, the loving mother. She said no in order to protect her child, to keep her child from pain of a belly-ache, the harm of the consequence of over-indulging.
In the same way, our Heavenly Father lays out boundaries in His word in order to protect us, to keep us from harmful consequences. I’d like to pretend that those boundaries are for really “serious” sins like murder, stealing, sexual immorality, idolatry, blasphemy, and so forth. But the truth is that the boundaries are for so-called “little” sins, too.
Even sins like over-eating.
Yes, sometimes I’m the preschooler who wants the fifth cookie, but the Holy Spirit tells me no. Then it’s my choice whether or not to heed that boundaries that the Father has put into place for my own protection.
You see, He knows the ultimate consequences of the fifth cookie – not just the extra weight, but the potential health risks that go along with it. Even more, He knows what that lack of self-control says about the condition of my heart!
When I’m just dying for the fifth cookie, or the slice of pizza, or the brownie, or the glass of cherry coke, I’m allowing myself to be ruled by food, by pleasure. Our Father isn’t content that I should be a slave to food, nor to any other earthly thing (or person). He sent His one and only Son just for this – to set us free!
I long for this freedom, don’t you, my sisters in Christ?
I shared earlier this year about my one word – persevere. When I chose this word (or when it was chosen for me), I knew that one area in which I needed to persevere most was in this area of healthy eating and healthy living. I’ve bought into the lie that I cannot change these habits for too long now.
1 Cor. 10:13 No temptation has overtaken you except what is common to mankind. And God is faithful;he will not let you be tempted beyond what you can bear. But when you are tempted, he will also provide a way out so that you can endure it.
The Father is setting new boundaries for me, and sometimes I don’t like it. Like the preschooler, I fight it.
I fight Him.
I justify that one more bite won’t hurt. One more cookie will be okay. Surely my Father wouldn’t deny me this simple pleasure, right? After all, I have freedom in Christ for all things, yes?
Don’t fall for those lies, sister.
Don’t be Eve in the garden, taking just one bite of juicy, forbidden fruit!
If I’m crossing the boundary in having that fifth cookie (or third, or maybe even the very first one!), then I’m opening myself up to all of those consequences that He so desperately wants to keep me from.
Maybe you don’t struggle with food, my sisters in Christ, but I’m sure you struggle with His boundaries in another area – loving others? obedience? abiding in Him? keeping your thoughts pure? respecting your husband? being patient with your children? honoring Christ every day (not just on Sundays)?
That fifth cookie, that movie you’re dying to see, that strong word bursting forth from your mouth, that stray thought, that questionable relationship, that extra sleep – whatever it is that keeps us from the abundant good God has planned for our lives quickly becomes slavery. His boundaries are better, friends.
1 Cor. 10:23 “I have the right to do anything,” you say—but not everything is beneficial.“I have the right to do anything”—but not everything is constructive.
Whatever your struggle might be, recognize that our Father lays out your boundaries because He loves you, because He wishes to protect you from harm! Remember that you have the power of Christ in you – the ability to overcome!
I’m learning that this food battle is going to be just that – a real war. I need His strength to persevere. I need His will-power to say no to the fifth cookie, even if My Fitness Pal says I have still have calories left in the day.
I must be sensitive to the Holy Spirit and rely on His leading moment by moment. One day at a time. That’s how I’ll persevere in this area of healthy living.
By His strength and grace alone!