New Year... Same Resolution

by Linda Strickland
Jan/Feb 2008

"Dear friends, I pray that you may enjoy good health and that all may go well with you, even as your soul is getting along well.” (3 John 1:2)

My sister Sandra’s husband, Robbie, died last year: he was only 57 years old. He fought through a series of health issues that were a part of his long struggle with diabetes, the last of which was a kidney transplant. We thought he had the battle won, but, several weeks after the transplant, his heart stopped.

It was not the news of his diabetes or his transplant, or even his death, that convicted me. It was, rather, at his funeral that I received the conviction - the same conviction I have struggled with for most of my life.

Like most good southern women do, the ladies at the church where Robbie’s funeral took place prepared a wonderful meal for the family. After the service, we all proceeded into the parish hall to dine on the delectable offerings lovingly prepared by the hands of these sweet Christian women. I filled my plate with such delicacies as fried chicken, macaroni and cheese, and various vegetables, all seasoned well with the other white meat. To top it off, I also included a good portion of my Aunt Margaret’s famous layered pudding dessert with whipped cream. As I looked at my plate with a little guilt, I quickly reminded myself that I had skipped breakfast and I had a long trip back to Jacksonville that afternoon.

With plate in hand, I found a seat with my other sister, Joy, and her husband Dave, along with their two boys. I don’t get to see them very often, so I was anticipating a nice visit over lunch. As I sat down, I noticed that Dave’s plate had only fresh fruit salad on it. I knew he was a vegetarian, so I commented that surely there was more he could find to eat on the buffet than just fruit.

Now, Dave has always been a little uncomfortable with my family and seems to follow a different set of rules and morals. He’s a perfectly nice guy, but we all know what he thinks of us, our church and our Christian views.

I’ll never forget his comment back to me following my question concerning his “fruit salad only” lunch. He said, “You know, I just got finished listening to people applaud Robbie for never smoking or drinking, and then we come out here to a table with mostly ‘junk for your body’ food. I only have one question: what’s the difference?”

Now here is a man who sees Christians as hypocrites and people who have their values confused. I had to admit, I could see his point: my reply was that I agreed with him and there was no difference. I suddenly saw a man who had a very valid reason for not wanting to be like us. On this particular topic, we are hypocrites and we do have our values confused.

I actually had a hard time enjoying my plate of food that day, and the conviction lasted for a good week – maybe two. Then, as always, I slipped back into my old habits.

Every New Year, as I ponder what resolutions to make, I am met with the same disappointment in myself. Although I am a beautiful woman of God who is living a life in close relationship with Him, I struggle with getting a grip on consistently eating right and exercising.

Recently, I missed a trip with Judith because of a knee problem. The doctor informed me that I will probably need a complete knee replacement within 10 years. All I could think was “are you kidding me?” Yet here’s the truth: my poor attempt at a healthy lifestyle has contributed to the osteoarthritis in my knee. Francis calls it “the used car syndrome.” Generally speaking, people are only interested in used cars if they are in mint condition; cars that have been lovingly taken care of and have a good blue book value. Quite frankly, I’m a little worried about my blue book value these days.

All of this has led me to an even bigger conviction: if we are called to represent the healing power of Jesus Christ to a sick and dying world, then we need to lead by example.

At Christian Healing Ministries, we have begun this effort by taking most of the sugary pastries off of the table at our Schools. We now offer alternative choices of fresh fruit and healthy snacks.

I wonder what would happen if all churches would make a “mostly healthy food” policy for coffee hour and covered dish dinners. It would be tough – I mean, I personally own no less than a dozen cookbooks put together by wonderful Christian ladies groups and churches. I have even contributed to several of them myself, and they are great recipes! All full of flavor…and sugar, and fat.

I am not suggesting that we completely eliminate and never enjoy these wonderful foods. I am merely saying that, at least for my weak flesh, this indulgence should be the exception and not the rule.

Now, I know I have taken the giant leap into meddling at this point, but I’m worried about us. I’m worried by the fact that (we) Christians are statistically as unhealthy and obese as the rest of the world.

In this New Year, I am once again making a commitment to take better care of myself. This includes eating better. Maybe the fear of a knee replacement will help, but what I think is going to help the most is the way I am now praying about it.

Recently, this topic came up in class during our School of Healing Prayer® here at CHM. Judith suggested that, if you struggle with your appetite, ask for Jesus’ appetite. What a great idea! This inspired me to ask for more than just His appetite for food. It is my heart's desire to have Jesus’ perfect appetite for everything - especially His appetite for His Father.

“You’re blessed when you’ve worked up a good appetite for God. He’s food and drink in the best meal you’ll ever eat.” Matthew 5:6 (The Message)

May God bless you and keep you in this New Year!

Linda Strickland Linda Strickland is the Associate Director of Ministry and Assistant to Judith MacNutt. Jan/Feb 2008 Issue