Practicing the Presence of God

I love to eat.  My kids know that if they want to take advantage of my weakness, they should offer me warm brownies or buttered bread or ice cream with peanuts and homemade hot fudge. I can’t resist!

Money and food have a lot in common.  As Americans, we really have more than we need of both.  We tend to indulge in overeating or in overspending when we feel we “deserve” something good.  Or, we compulsively control our food intake or our financial life to the detriment of our own physical and emotional health. 

I don’t know a lot about eating disorders, but I do know that such a disorder can come about because someone feels out of control in many areas of life and, therefore, chooses food as an area to exert extreme control. Spending disorders are of a similar origin. When life feels out of control, we often turn to spending money to “blow off steam,” or we become obsessed with budgeting and counting every penny that we have.

God, in Scripture, calls us to take “every thought captive to the obedience of Christ.”  (2 Corinthians 10:5) When we control our thought life as an act of surrender to His Lordship, we find that our urge to over-control or lose control in other areas of life (such as food or money) becomes less intense.  Instead of compulsively controlling or foolishly losing control of every tangible aspect of our life, we can trust Him and His guidance in those areas.  We can exert discipline through trust rather than exerting control through fear.

In John 8:32, Jesus says, “then you will know the Truth and the Truth will set you free.” By giving us the Holy Spirit and by enabling us to take each and every thought to the throne of God to be transformed by His grace and guidance, God sets us free from the urgent and anxious need to control areas of our life that seem daunting. 

How does all of this work?  Well, when my daughter-in-law makes her delicious cookie cake and I just “have to have it,” I can take that thought to Christ and remember that my body is the temple of the Holy Spirit (I Corinthians 6:19) and that He has given me the Holy Sprit, whose fruit is self-control (Galatians 5:22).  By taking the thought to God, I can trust His wisdom and exert discipline.  It may look like “control,” but in this case, it is control that depends on God’s grace rather than control that depends on my own abilities.

If you are tempted to overspend or if you are avoiding implementing financial discipline (such as a budget or paying off credit cards), take the time to find a few Scriptures that will allow you to take your thoughts captive before the Lord so that HE can wrestle them to the ground and allow you to have freedom before Him and in your financial life.

 Another way to manage thoughts and take them to the Lord is to eliminate the distractions or the “noise” that keep you from exerting the discipline He’s teaching you to use.  For me, with food, this looks like turning down the bread before dinner in a restaurant or not looking at the dessert menu after a meal.  Or, with money, it may look like throwing away catalogs that come in the mail or making less frequent trips to the mall. 

As you take your thoughts to God, lean on His Truth, and eliminate distractions, may you be set free to enjoy His abundant blessings without being held captive by the empty charms of our world.