“Those who live in the shelter of the Most High will find rest in the shadow of the Almighty. This I declare about the Lord: He alone is my refuge, my place of safety; He is my God, and I trust Him. For He will rescue you from every trap and protect you from deadly disease. He will cover you with His feathers. He will shelter you with His wings. His faithful promises are your armor and protection.” (Psalm 91:1-4)
Like all of you, I have struggled throughout my life to dwell in the shelter of the Most High and find rest in the shadow of the Almighty. I have sought refuge and safe shelter outside of His care. I have failed to believe His promises—to wear them as my armor and protection. And I’ve not trusted Him to rescue me from every trap—every temptation to sin—and from the deadly disease of sin.
Most of my struggle has been with mindlessly, thanklessly, wastefully (through overconsumption) eating; either because of boredom, or to escape stress, or to experience some comfort, or simulate my being in control, or just to indulge in pleasure. When I’ve faltered in this way, God has been good and faithful to convict me by His Holy Spirit and confront me with questions like, “Why are you eating right now? Needfully for your health and nourishment? What are you feeling? What are you seeking? Have you ever found it (ultimate relief, comfort, pleasure, control) where you’re currently looking (in food)? Haven’t I given you every good thing for your enjoyment? Are you enjoying food as a good gift from Me? Are you receiving these good gifts with thanksgiving? Am I enough for you? Will you trust Me as I sovereignly hold everything together?”
I don’t feel condemned by the Holy Spirit—the tone and questions are much different from those of our enemy who says things like, “You’ve done it again. You’re such a failure. You must really hate God—you didn’t really belong to Him in the first place. You’re so wasteful and ungrateful. You’ll never get this right–you’ll always be a slave to food…”
While it IS true that I often fail to get it right, it is NOT true that I hate God and don’t belong to Him. And those of us who are in Christ will not be slaves to sin or any idol forever! Thanks be to God who has redeemed us through the spotless blood of Jesus, slain before the world was made! All glory to Jesus for getting it right every time in our place!
In light of this, how do I respond when I do sin in mindlessly, thanklessly, wastefully over-consuming food and seeking ultimate relief, comfort, control or pleasure in food? I cry out to the Lord for mercy and forgiveness, and I ask him to give me a new heart and help me worship, trust and love Him as the one true God who does meet all of my needs. With the help of the Holy Spirit living in me, this has been my response time and again.
I also ask God to help me not be a wasteful steward through consuming more food than is needed. Many times I justify this overconsumption by trying NOT to be wasteful (“I don’t want to throw that out so I’ll just eat a little more…”), but this also stems from anxiously not trusting the Lord to perfectly provide for my needs and my family’s needs. I ask God to help me freely and thankfully enjoy good food! I know that enjoying it (experiencing pleasure) is a good thing and of God! But I need His help in keeping my pursuit of pleasure bound to knowing and treasuring Him above all else.
The other element is physical–how my body responds when I eat too many sugary foods and not enough nourishing foods. Eating sugar makes us crave more sugar and doesn’t satiate our appetites. You and I know the frustration of trying to break out of this physical cycle. I’ve asked God many times to reset my body and help me make wise eating choices that honor Him as ruler and indweller of my body, and that fuel me with strength to serve Him and others.
Dear sisters and brothers, GOD HAS BEEN FAITHFUL TO HELP ME (AND YOU!). And HE WILL BE AGAIN! May His Good Spirit lead us on level ground and into all Truth that we may know and remember God’s unfailing promises—our armor and protection—particularly in our times of need when we struggle to believe God’s love and provision for us and His power to deliver, forgive and restore us when we are tempted and when we sin against Him.
Take a moment and consider just a few of God’s promises made, and being proven true, to us, His beloved children:
“I prayed to the Lord, and He answered me. He freed me from all my fears. Those who look to Him for help will be radiant with joy; no shadow of shame will darken their faces. In my desperation I prayed, and the Lord listened; He saved me from all my troubles. For the angel of the Lord is a guard; he surrounds and defends all who fear Him. Taste and see that the Lord is good. Oh, the joys of those who take refuge in Him! Fear the Lord, you His godly people, for those who fear Him will have all they need. Even strong young lions sometimes go hungry, but those who trust in the Lord will lack no good thing. … No one who takes refuge in Him will be condemned.” (Psalm 34: 4-10; 22)
When we pray to the Lord, even in our desperate struggles with eating and body image disorders, He listens and He answers. He doesn’t condemn us or darken our faces with shame. No, He makes our faces radiant with joy! He saves us from all our troubles! He surrounds and defends us! He gives us the sweet, satisfying pleasure of tasting and seeing and knowing HE IS GOOD! When we fear Him and trust Him, He gives us all that we need – we lack no good thing! When we take refuge in Him, we will not be condemned!
But when we fail to trust and worship Him as the One True God, when we forget and disbelieve His promises, when we knowingly disobey His Word and seek ultimate comfort, control, pleasure and relief outside of Him, still He kindly draws us to repentance through the convicting work of His Holy Spirit in our hearts. When we confess our sins, He forgives us and puts our sin out of sight! Consider and be encouraged by His Word—read it aloud so you can hear God speaking to you now:
“Oh, what joy for those whose disobedience is forgiven, whose sin is put out of sight! Yes, what joy for those whose record the Lord has cleared of guilt, whose lives are lived in complete honesty! When I refused to confess my sin, my body wasted away, and I groaned all day long. Day and night your hand of discipline was heavy on me. My strength evaporated like water in the summer heat. Finally, I confessed all my sins to You and stopped trying to hide my guilt. I said to myself, “I will confess my rebellion to the Lord.” And You forgave me! All my guilt is gone.” (Psalm 32:1-5)
“All of us must come to you. Though we are overwhelmed by our sins, You forgive them all.” (Psalm 65:2-3)
What tremendous encouragement from God’s Word! And when our enemy tells you that God is not with you or that He doesn’t care about your life, when your adversary lies and says you’ve fallen beyond the reach of God’s strong saving hand, remember this:
“The Lord directs the steps of the godly. He delights in every detail of their lives. Though they stumble, they will never fall, for the Lord holds them by the hand.” Psalm 37:23-24
And when you look in the mirror and are compelled to undo, redo, revile or revere your image, remember that you did not make yourself; you are not your own. You were made in the image of God and have been bought with the highest price–the blood of Jesus Christ—and God has already promised to make you new:
“Against its will, everything on earth was subjected to God’s curse, and all creation anticipates the day when it will join God’s children in glorious freedom from death and decay … And even we Christians, although we have the Holy Spirit within us as a foretaste of future glory, we also groan with longing for our bodies to be released from sin and suffering. We, too, wait anxiously for that day when God will give us our full rights as His adopted children, including the new bodies He has promised us.” (Romans 8:20-23)
Think of that, our bodies will be released from sin and suffering! God has promised it. And God cannot lie. Until we experience the fulfillment of this promise, let us continually “Praise the Lord; praise God our Savior! For each day He carries us in His arms. Our God is a God who saves! The Sovereign Lord rescues us from death.” (Psalm 68:19-20)
May God help all of us to daily dwell in His shelter and find rest beneath the shadow of His wings. May we be empowered in every moment to worship and serve Him only and trust His promises given to us as armor and protection. May His Good Spirit convict and comfort us time and again when we wander away like lost sheep. May He faithfully answer us when we cry out to Him for grace and mercy in our times of need. May we know and experience more than ever His nearness to us and His infinite love for us! May we be convinced that nothing can ever separate us from His love – “death can’t, life can’t, the angels can’t, the demons can’t; our fears for today, our worries about tomorrow and even the powers of hell can’t keep God’s love away!” (Romans 8:38) May we continually grow in our knowledge of and love for our faithful Father who heals, delivers, and restores us. HE WILL MAKE US NEW AGAIN! And He will help us to walk in freedom and balance (and confession and repentance) until we are made new. “For the Word of the Lord holds true, and we can trust everything He does.” (Psalm 33:4)
Kristen Gilles is a worship leader and deacon at Louisville’s multi-campus Sojourn Community Church. Her new CD Parker’s Mercy Brigade is a story of faith, lament, comfort, healing and worship following the stillbirth of her son.
Kristen writes articles on worship and Christian living, and has been published by Worship Leader Magazine, TheGospelCoalition.org, and other leading Christian publications. As she declares on Parker’s Mercy Brigade, Kristen is learning each day to trust and hope in the God who gives and takes, and works both the giving and the taking for our good.