For the Grace of God

In last week’s article, I mentioned that I occasionally watch the Food Channel. But the problem with watching the Food Channel for me is that it often makes me hungry, so then I quickly change the channel to the program entitled, “My 600-lb Life.”

Recently I watched an episode in which Dr. Nowzaradan had met with James K. about getting his weight under control. James had actually gained so much weight he was unable to get out of bed. So before Dr. “Now” would perform the weight loss surgery on James, he sent him home for a period of time to live on a restricted diet of 1200 calories in order to lose weight.

During the filming of his time on the restricted diet, James made it sound like he had been doing really well and that he was quite confident he was losing weight, however during the program, they showed James getting very irate about his diet with his fiancé, Lisa. He was tired of eating chicken and shrimp and he had a strong hankerin’ for some Chinese food.

At first Lisa denied his request, arguing that it would ruin his diet and therefore jeopardize his possibility of getting the surgery. James angrily argued back, claiming that to fudge on his diet “just this one time” would in no way sabotage his progress and that it would actually be a nice little reward for doing so well. Lisa seemed a bit frustrated, but eventually called a Chinese restaurant to have some food delivered.

Soon it was time for James to return to the hospital to see if he had lost enough weight. James explained that, because he was so heavy and that he couldn’t stand up, they would have to weigh him in a special bed. I thought it seemed a bit strange since it sounded like James had lost a lot of weight while at home, but on the way to the hospital James and Lisa began to express their fear over how Dr. Now would respond if he hadn’t lost any weight. I began to wonder if James and Lisa had been telling the truth.

Well sure enough, after hoisting James in bed, the scale revealed the truth that James had indeed gained an additional 140 pounds. James’s weight had climbed to 840 pounds. Interestingly James and Lisa were both surprised and disappointed; apparently he had rewarded himself more than just the one time. J James was eating himself to death.

As I was reflecting on James’s weight gain, I also had to admit, I am really not that much different than James, I am so undisciplined and I find all kinds of ways of sabotaging my goals. And even though I am dead to sin, I often feel like the Apostle Paul in Romans 7:14-25, “Yes. I’m full of myself—after all, I’ve spent a long time in sin’s prison. What I don’t understand about myself is that I decide one way, but then I act another, doing things I absolutely despise…. I obviously need help! I realize that I don’t have what it takes. I can will it, but I can’t do it. I decide to do good, but I don’t really do it; I decide not to do bad, but then I do it anyway. My decisions, such as they are, don’t result in actions. Something has gone wrong deep within me and gets the better of me every time.

“It happens so regularly that it’s predictable. The moment I decide to do good, sin is there to trip me up. I truly delight in God’s commands, but it’s pretty obvious that not all of me joins in that delight. Parts of me covertly rebel, and just when I least expect it, they take charge. I’ve tried everything and nothing helps. I’m at the end of my rope. Is there no one who can do anything for me? Isn’t that the real question? The answer, thank God, is that Jesus Christ can and does.”

As Paul would write in Titus 2:11-12, “For the grace of God has appeared that offers salvation to all people. It teaches us to say “No” to ungodliness and worldly passions, and to live self-controlled…”

I thank God that at the end of my rope there is no condemnation, but that his grace can save me from destroying myself. And may it be so with you as well!

Wishing you a grace-filled 2019,

Mike Altena



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