One of the most powerful versus in the Bible comes from the short book of Jonah in the Old Testament. “Those who cling to worthless idols forfeit the grace that could be theirs.” Jonah 2:8 When I first read this verse, I felt as if I had been kicked in the stomach. I have been a Christian since I was 13 years old and thought I was accepting of God’s grace. I was grateful for my salvation and felt as if I truly understood the grace I had received. But once I let the words of this verse sink into my soul, I realized how many times I had forfeited God’s grace for me.
When you think of the word “idol” in the Bible, we tend to think either of a physical being that someone worships or something we place ahead of the importance of God. While both of these are true, I also believe that anytime we allow ourselves to cling to a relationship that takes our focus away from God, or a thought that consumes us so much we forget about God, or anything in this world that we lean into instead of relying on God’s grace to sustain us, we are forfeiting God’s grace.
The way I have viewed my physical body most of my life has consumed my every thought. I have poured so much focus on what my outer appearance should look like according to this world that I have let it completely overtake me. Living a healthy lifestyle and taking care of this miraculous body God has given you is a wonderful thing…until you let it consume you. This is true of any aspect of life. Anything you let consume you in this life is a forfeit of grace.
This feeling of never being good enough because of the “fat” on my body is one that isn’t from God. When God looks at us, his children, he doesn’t see the physical appearance. He sees straight to our hearts, to our souls. He knows our every thought, every dream, every want.
God’s grace is offered freely, so why, oh why, do I discard it, throw it away like trash. Yes, God’s grace saved my soul, but I have chosen to completely throw away the grace he is offering to take away my feelings of unworthiness, my feelings of being less than a person, my feelings of hopelessness. I am desperately clinging to the idol in my life of feeling like one who doesn’t deserve the same respect as others around me. I can’t even give myself the respect I deserve.
Maybe, in some strange way, I was enjoying wallowing in this horrible feeling of self-doubt, a sort of self-sabotage. It had become my identity, my idol. I put my trust in what people around me were telling me that I should look like. I should look like everyone else around me. I shouldn’t be “fat.” Maybe the people in my life who were telling me, “If only you weren’t so fat, imagine how much better your life would be,” were clinging to their own idol of self-doubt. They had to put someone else down in order to make themselves feel superior. What a sad world to live in that the idol in your life makes you say horrible things to the people you love in order to feel peace. The anger I have been harboring towards these types of comments made to me, I can truly let go of. God’s grace can cover them and remove them from the narrative that plays in my mind.
God’s grace is sufficient for all things. He can heal my mind and help take all of the negative thoughts out of my inner dialogue. In 2 Corinthians, Paul speaks about asking God to take away a thorn in his flesh. He was struggling with a physical problem and needed help. God choose not to take it away and this forced Paul to lean into God’s grace. In Paul’s weakness, he was made strong through the grace of God. “Three times I pleaded with the Lord to take it away from me. But he said to me, ‘My grace is sufficient for you, for my power is made perfect in weakness.’ Therefore, I will boast all the more gladly about my weakness, so that Christ’s power may rest on me. That is why, for Christ’s sake, I delight in weakness, in insults, in hardships, in persecutions, in difficulties. For when I am weak, then I am strong.” 2 Corinthians 12:8-10
Three things I have learned from studying this verse in Jonah are: Leaning on God for all things. Letting nothing of this world take my focus away from God’s grace. Allowing God’s grace to cover me and not throwing it away by clinging to things of this world.
I truly hope you decide today to fully accept God’s grace in your life. It will bring you so much love and peace. God’s grace is sufficient for all things!
This week’s recipe is one that is sure to warm you all the way down to your toes. The cool wind of autumn is blowing, and I love it! Fall and winter are my favorite seasons because it brings all things cozy. One of my favorite things to eat is soup and you can’t beat a good vegetable soup, just like your grandmother would make. I hope you enjoy this hearty soup as much as we do. As always, feel free to add your family’s favorite vegetables or add shredded chicken or ground turkey to make this become your family’s new favorite soup.
“Let us then approach God’s throne of grace with confidence, so that we may receive mercy and find grace to help us in our time of need,” Hebrews 4:16