In 2019, my husband and I made a decision to get healthy.
Neither of us were obese or exceptionally sluggish, but we had both opened our eyes to some bad eating habits and a slight tendency towards laziness that had crept into our lives. Faced with the prospect of a family history of certain diseases and the realization that we weren’t quite the spring chickens we once were, we decided to act.
We cut carbs, sugar, and alcohol. We counted calories. We substituted zucchini and cauliflower in EVERYTHING.
By the time the year was said and done, I was down 30 pounds and my husband was down almost 50. We both looked and felt better. We had more energy. Our new “diet” no longer felt like a diet; it was just how we ate. We hadn’t just went on a weight loss journey–we’d actually changed our lifestyle.
Or so we thought.
Because then 2020 came in (in the words of Miley Cyrus) “like a wrecking ball.”
Toilet paper shortages. Remote learning. Working from home. Not to mention buying a house, a government-mandated move, riots, an election, oh, and murder hornets.
A classic recipe for stress-eating if there ever was one.
But both my husband and I thought it would be no big deal. We’d been eating extremely healthy for over a year. It had become an ingrained part of us, no longer just a habit but a way of life. We’d been fine. No way the “quarantine 15” would get us.
And we did well…for awhile. But sheer CONSTANCY of 2020 began to gnaw at us. And it started innocently. First it was just a Reese’s Cup after a stressful homeschool lesson. Then a handful of chips after a nightmare trip to the grocery store. Then perhaps an extra order of nachos when we splurged on Mexican after the 4th “lockdown lifted/nope, lockdown back on” cycle.
By the time 2020 finished, both my husband and I had gained weight. No, we didn’t gain ALL the weight back, but it was enough that we had to buckle down and essentially start all over again, trying to break bad habits and reinstitute good ones.
What happened? We could blame it on 2020. On circumstances and stress. But, when it comes down to it, we simply got complacent.
We’d gotten so comfortable in our health walk that we didn’t think a little cheat now and then would be a big deal. We were good; we knew what we were doing, how to eat, how to exercise, how to maintain–no reason to stay laser focused on it anymore.
And we slipped.
Unfortunately, this also happens far too often in our walk with God. We go along, thinking we have this Jesus thing down, knowing we’re in good standing with our Heavenly Father. So we skip a prayer here and there. We neglect our bible reading. We sleep in one Sunday.
And sometimes, we slip.
In Genesis 9, we catch up with Noah after the food. You remember Noah–the one Moses described as “a righteous man, blameless among the people of the time.” (Genesis 5:9) A man who walked with God for over 600 years, who witnessed firsthand God’s wrath and mercy, whose relationship with Him lay at the heart of God’s covenant.
He was good, right? He had the whole “God thing” down.
And yet, in Genesis 9, we see this same man get drunk and lay uncovered in his tent, exposing his nakedness to his sons.
We see Noah fall into sin.
As much as I want to believe that there’s a certain distance I can walk with God, a certain point I can reach in our relationship, in which I will become immune to sin, it’s just not true. Past godliness doesn’t guarantee future godliness. Walking with God is a deliberate act, one that takes focus and intention; the world makes it way too easy to wander off that path. All it takes is complacency.
You see, when the world was wicked, Noah was focused. The world around him showed him the effects of depravity and godlessness–and Noah wanted nothing to do with it! The world’s sin gave him focus, and his righteousness was ultimately rewarded. But once it was all said and done, when the flood was over and the immediate threat had passed, Noah relaxed. He let his guard down. He let his focus and gaze drift to other things.
And Noah, named by the prophet Ezekiel many years later as one of the most righteous in history (Ezekiel 14:20), sinned.
If Noah fell into sin, what hope do you or I have?
Our focus on God is intentional. It doesn’t just happen. Just like the diet my husband and I adopted, our food choices were just that–choices. We had to make the decision whether to stick with the healthy food options–the ones that made us look and feel better–or give in to the unhealthy food options–the ones that may have tasted better but ultimately made us feel sluggish and unwell. Every single day required a conscious choice on our part; when we stopped actively choosing what was best for us, old habits crept back in…and soon overwhelmed us once more.
Obedience to God is the same way. Every day is a choice. Are we actively seeking Him, following Him, listening to Him? Or do we simply go with the flow, allowing the day ahead to dictate our thoughts, feelings, and actions? Without intentionality and focus, our sinful hearts will always lead us down the easier but not necessarily better path.
The good news is that you and I have something Noah didn’t have. As believers in Christ, we have the Holy Spirit to guide us in this pursuit. The indwelling of God can help us focus our hearts and minds upon our Heavenly Father, to give us a nudge back to intentionality and assist us in our daily walks with Him.
Yes, one of the most righteous men in history–Noah–grew complacent and slipped into sin. But the even better news is we hold Jesus Christ as our righteousness–the Living Son of God. When we slip and fall into sin–because it will happen–we have the precious blood of Jesus shed on the cross. We have forgiveness. We have grace. We have a chance to re-focus, re-adjust, and hop back on that path, our eyes fixed our Savior once more.
Let’s choose Jesus, friends. Every day. Every hour. Every moment. Let’s not get distracted, weary, or complacent but rather “fix our eyes on Jesus, the author and perfecter of our faith, who for the joy set before him endured the cross, scorning its shame, and sat down at the right hand of the throne of God.” (Hebrews 12:2)
And maybe just avoid the candy aisle too. 😉