Friday, March 09, 2007

Accidental, Almost, Success, Failure...Forgiveness

So I gave up wheat on Ash Wednesday. I wrote myself some reminders on red paper to toss about in miscellaneous places: "Get Healthy," "40 Days," "I Am Wheat-Free," and "LENT!" I was diagnosed as wheat-intolerant a few years ago, but have found it too difficult to commit to wheat-free living in a home with carb addicts (my son & husband). Instead, I have tried to merely limit my wheat intake, but anyone who knows about food sensitivities would shake her head at me and shrug because it is only through the total elimination of an allergen than one can help the body heal in order to again reintroduce that food.

This all started for me in 1995 when I had my first IgA test & was diagnosed with a few DOZEN food sensitivities. I was very disciplined then and avoided so many things for three full years, until I was retested. In these nearly 12 years each retest has been ever more encouraging as my list shrinks. I’m down to such a simple list, finally, and can again eat EGGS, PEANUTS, and so many other things that were forbidden years ago. But wheat caught me by surprise about 3 years ago, and I have rebelled against the grain ever since.

So, I thought, “Hey! Lent! That’s a great time to avoid my enemy! Maybe my eczema will die down or fade away!” So, I entered hopeful, determined and optimistic that I could make it 40 days without wheat!

The first day I slipped. My son came up & handed me a fabulous cookie—one of my favorites—and I took a bite before I said, aloud, “Wait a minute! I’m not supposed to eat this!” I handed it back to him. He wasn’t supposed to eat it either—he had helped himself.

The next day I reached for what I seem to remember was a donut…where were we? Maybe it was a sample at the grocery store. I don’t recall. But I remember that I stopped shy & reminded myself, “No. That’s not for you, now, Missie! You are Wheat-Free! You are going to Get Healthy! It is Lent, for crying out loud.” So, I felt a great satisfaction at my success. It was only Day Two, however. Then a week went by & I was doing great! Ten days without wheat!! Oh, man. Somebody, celebrate with me!

OK, so then I celebrated. And I cannot imagine why I was so weak to peer pressure, but I was visiting friends in Virginia Beach and was offered a cake I had not had before—chocolate with peanut butter swirled in. I am NOT a chocolate cake fan. Really. I love cake. I love chocolate. But not all at once. But, hey! It was Birthday Cake! And, it was one of those Everybody’s-Doin’-It Moments. So, I indulged—big time! I could maybe have been accused of Gluttony. That’s a Deadly Sin, by the way. You know, one of The Seven?

I felt guilt. A little bit. No, really, a lot! Like, why would I go so far & then intentionally NOT say, “No, Thank you,” politely, and leave it at that? Well, I think it is because I am human.

Then today I dove in with both hands & it was like a big old wheat fest here! I found an appealing Wondertime Magazine recipe for sweet potato muffins. Logan & I like to take on a baking project once a week—he loves helping & I like working alongside him, teaching him how to measure (math skills) and how to finish something he’s started. It helps that the motivation is edible!

So, we made the sweet potato muffins and I gotta tell you, I don’t think it was just because I have not eaten wheat for 15 or the past 17 days—these muffins were the MOST amazing and satisfying creation we’ve put together yet! OH! If you could only have shared them with us! There are a couple left—but those are for Daddy, OK!?

Point being, I INTENTIONALLY ate wheat today. I didn’t even try not to. So, what’s the Spiritual Lesson in all this? Forgiveness & Freedom in Christ, I think.

Tomorrow I am starting again with my wheat-free life, and I really do want to be healthy. And I really do want to serve God in all that I do—I don’t think He necessarily wants me to pay him some tribute through a temporary & truly simple sacrifice…but if I cannot sacrifice something so delicious for 40 days just in memory of His Eternally Significant sacrifice…I mean, there is simply no comparison, but how would I be able to give it ALL for Him if He called me to it? I’ve asked this of myself so many times in my life & I always seem to come up sadly lacking in abilities, here. Discipline, really, is my failing.

Back to this Lent concept. It isn’t biblical, you know. The Apostles & Disciples didn’t memorialize Easter with a 40 day preparation of fasting from some trivial food category. They fasted for lots of good & healthy reasons, but I am certain choosing not to eat Matzo for 40 days didn't change any man’s heart in year 45 AD. You know? Intentional Christ-following life is a daily taking up of another cross all together—one of identity in Him. Do I shy away from my identity in Christ when I have the opportunity? Am I more like Peter, or “Rock,” who was identified as the first priest of the Church, but denied Jesus, whom he knew so well that he walked with him, ate with him, prayed with him? If Peter was capable of that grand a denial, I suppose my inability to identify my own disciplines with a 40-day memorial of Christ’s resurrection means I’m in the boat with one of the Great Fishermen.

Forgiveness is here for ME from myself, and of course from God. He never asked me to avoid that muffin, but he did ask me to care for my health, as my body is a Temple of the Living God and His Holy Spirit. So, with that in mind I start this fast anew. My hands ought to be able to open & close without pain. I need to have a better constitution all around. Caring for myself isn’t a Lenten sacrifice; it is a daily service to my King. I thank Him for his understanding & grace!

Matthew 15:10-20
Jesus called the crowd to him and said, "Listen and understand. What goes into a man's mouth does not make him 'unclean,' but what comes out of his mouth, that is what makes him 'unclean.' ... Peter said, "Explain the parable to us."

"Are you still so dull?" Jesus asked them. "Don't you see that whatever enters the mouth goes into the stomach and then out of the body? But the things that come out of the mouth come from the heart, and these make a man 'unclean.' For out of the heart come evil thoughts, murder, adultery, sexual immorality, theft, false testimony, slander. These are what make a man 'unclean'; but eating with unwashed hands does not make him 'unclean.' "

Romans 14:13-23
Therefore let us stop passing judgment on one another. Instead, make up your mind not to put any stumbling block or obstacle in your brother's way. As one who is in the Lord Jesus, I am fully convinced that no food is unclean in itself. But if anyone regards something as unclean, then for him it is unclean. If your brother is distressed because of what you eat, you are no longer acting in love. Do not by your eating destroy your brother for whom Christ died. Do not allow what you consider good to be spoken of as evil. For the kingdom of God is not a matter of eating and drinking, but of righteousness, peace and joy in the Holy Spirit, because anyone who serves Christ in this way is pleasing to God and approved by men.

Let us therefore make every effort to do what leads to peace and to mutual edification. Do not destroy the work of God for the sake of food. All food is clean, but it is wrong for a man to eat anything that causes someone else to stumble. It is better not to eat meat or drink wine or to do anything else that will cause your brother to fall.

So whatever you believe about these things keep between yourself and God. Blessed is the man who does not condemn himself by what he approves. But the man who has doubts is condemned if he eats, because his eating is not from faith; and everything that does not come from faith is sin.

Genesis 1:29-31
Then God said, "I give you every seed-bearing plant on the face of the whole earth and every tree that has fruit with seed in it. They will be yours for food. And to all the beasts of the earth and all the birds of the air and all the creatures that move on the ground—everything that has the breath of life in it—I give every green plant for food." And it was so. God saw all that he had made, and it was very good. And there was evening, and there was morning—the sixth day.

But, speaking of Fruit...Sweet potatos aren't...

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