It was July 15, 2012 – a fairly normal Sunday morning at Thomas Road Baptist Church. Charles led the worship, I led the choir, and Pastor Jonathan…well he and his family were on vacation that week and he had invited Dr. Ken Whitten from Idlewild Baptist Church in Tampa, FL to be our guest preacher. I had heard Pastor Whitten before and was excited to hear him once again.
“Turn in your Bibles to Romans 12. My sermon today is Getting Rid of Stinkin-Thinkin.” With that introduction, I smiled and thought, “This is going to be a fun message.” Little did I know, his sermon that day would rock my world and set me on a course that would radically change my life. His message was simple – identifying areas in our life and ministry that need change and boldly stepping out and doing it. He had five points, three I will share here.
Point #1: You’ve got to DECIDE TO CHANGE. Stop putting it off…just do it. Then he said, “You’ll never change until your pain is greater than your fear of changing.” That statement was like a bullet straight to my soul. You see, all the years of masking the hurt and pain associated with severe obesity had taken its toll on me. I found myself at a place where the pain was greater than the fear of dieting, the fear of exercising…the fear of failure. I was still smiling and laughing on the outside, but on the inside, I was dying. Proverbs 14:13 says, “Laughter can conceal a heavy heart, but when laughter ends, the grief remains.” That was me. I needed help, and I needed it now.
Point #2: If you’re going to change, you’ve got to CHANGE YOUR MODEL. We’ve all heard the old adage “Misery loves company.” That is so true. I would often criticize people who were dedicated to health and fitness and label them as radical or obsessed, when in reality I so desired what they had. That turned into making excuses and comparing myself with others who were worse off than me. It was kind of like the man who went to the doctor and was told he had a serious health condition. The doctor showed him the X-rays and suggested a painful, expensive surgery that would save his life. The man looked at the X-rays and replied, “Okay. How much would you charge to just touch up the X-rays?” No magic pill was going to work. Vertical stripes wouldn’t fix it. The mirror and the scales were just being honest. I just needed to stop making excuses and start doing the hard work…which leads to his third point.
Point #3: You CAN’T CHANGE ALONE. At that moment, I knew God was speaking to me and was making Himself available, if only I would ask. It’s been said that “our problem is not unanswered prayer…our problem is unoffered prayer.” So true. I cried out to the Lord that day and He answered. He promised to be my strength, to give me courage and endurance, to help me say no to things I shouldn’t eat and yes to those things that are best. My daily prayer has been “God, fill my stomach and fill my head with more of You” and He hasn’t disappointed me yet. But God also burned upon my spirit the need to get professional help. My daughter had been telling me about this young trainer in the area who had recently graduated from Liberty University and had opened his own gym. I had his card in my desk, but frankly, I never intended to call him…until now. Perhaps the second hardest thing I’ve ever done in my life was picking up the phone and calling him. But that day, I did it. So what was the hardest thing? Actually going to the gym. But I followed through with that as well, and on July 23, 2012, I started my journey to deliverance. This stronghold that Satan had on me all these years would no longer control me. This area of weakness that was on display for everyone to see would soon become a symbol of God’s power and faithfulness in my life. TO HIM BE THE GLORY.