As we enter the New Year, now just a few days old, the decibels are rapidly climbing with the heart-broken cries of a countless number of folks who have made resolutions to live this year differently from the way they lived last year. And the pollsters tell us that the vast majority of those resolutions have something to do with weight. People all around the country are trying to lose some excess pounds they have put on during the last year, or maybe even just during the holidays that concluded the last year.
Oh yes, there are those resolutions related to living better, saving more, and doing more, but they don’t even come close to the number of resolutions related to losing weight during the coming year. So for all of you who are watching your weight this year, how are you doing?
There are all sorts of helps out to encourage people in this endeavor. There are high carb diets and low carb diets. There are high-fat diets and low-fat diets. There may even be a trans-fat diet by now. There are high-protein diets and low-protein diets. And there are liquid diets and no-liquid diets. There are weight loss experts who tell you to drink more juices. There are also weight loss professionals who say to drink fewer juices. There is even a seafood diet — or was it the “see food” plan? Listening and reading and watching all of these different weight loss professionals can give one a complex. Which one is telling the truth and to whom do you really listen?
The whole point of this is that if we really want to control our weight during the coming year, there is only one simple rule: eat less! Follow the “pushaway” diet plan. Just eat what you need then push yourself away from the table before you reach out for that second or third helping. In a word, I’m talking about “portion control.”
I was thinking of that the other day as I was reading through the Psalms. In Psalm 119:57, we read, “The Lord is my portion; I have promised to keep Your words.” When I read that, the very first thing I thought about was weight loss and dieting. What does it mean for the Lord to be “my portion?” Is the songwriter saying that we should control the amount of God we take in? Or is there some other meaning that is more suitable to this?
The truth of the matter is that the psalmist is not talking about food or weight at all. He is talking about the land. When the nation of Israel went into the Promised Land, they divided up the land into 12 parts. Each of the 12 tribes received a portion to live in and use to support their families and lifestyles. But to the tribe of Levi, there was given no portion of land, for in Deuteronomy 10:9 we are told that the Lord is their inheritance. In other words, the Lord is their portion. They were to rely on the Lord for everything they needed, and He would provide. Whenever they failed God and turned to idols for worship and help, the people of Israel were showing that they really did not believe that God was adequate to meet their needs. What the psalmist is saying is that He will provide. God is everything you need.
Do you know the legend of the Cherokee Indian youth’s rite of passage?
His dad takes him into the forest blindfolded and leaves him alone. He is required to sit on a stump the whole night and not take off the blindfold until the ray of sun shines through it.
He is all by himself. He cannot cry out for help to anyone. Once he survives the night, he is a man.
He cannot tell the other boys of this experience. Each lad must come into his own manhood.
The boy in our story was, naturally, terrified. He could hear all kinds of noise. Beasts were all around him. Maybe even a human would hurt him. The wind blew the grass and earth and it shook his stump. But he sat stoically, never removing the blindfold.
It was the only way he could become a man.
Finally, after a horrific night, the sun appeared and he removed his blindfold. It was then that he saw his father sitting on the stump next to him. His Dad had been there at watch the entire night.
My friend, no matter what voices you hear in the night, no matter what noises seem to frighten you, no matter what fearful situation you find yourself caught up in, God is faithful and will fulfill His promises to us, including the one where He promises to work “all things together for good” (Romans 8:28). When you take the blindfold off your darkened eyes, you will discover He has been there all the time.
Ask anyone who has sat on that stump in their life. God is good, all the time. This new year, let’s practice true “portion control,” giving the control of our lives to the One who is our portion.
Chuck Tabor is a religion columnist for The Times-Gazette and a former Hillsboro area pastor. He can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.