Oh, The Things We Must Give Up!

​Six years ago, I was sitting in the doctor’s office and the doctor said to me, “I think you need to stop eating gluten.”
“Gluten, what in the world is that?” I said. Not only did he tell me I had to give up gluten, but he said I should also consider giving up dairy as well. It wasn’t a good day.
Once I figured out what “gluten” was, I said, “Are you kidding me? What would I do that for?”

​I, like the rich young ruler in Mark 10:17-27 who was told by Jesus to sell all of his possessions and give to the poor and follow Him, went away from that appointment filled with sadness. I was being asked to give up something in order to have something else (in my case a healthier life and in the rich young ruler’s case, a completely new life).  
At the time, it was one of the hardest things I had ever had to do in my life. I am (or was) a white bread girl. I grew up taking three slices of white bread, tearing the crusts off and then scrunching the bread into a white, goopy ball of dough heaven as my after-school snack. I also was a huge chocolate chip cookie fan. I used to have two chocolate chip cookies everyday at 10:00 am. If I ate those two cookies at 10:00 am, I wouldn’t eat another sweet snack for the rest of the day (usually…unless it was a special occasion). The gluten-free options were not quite the same.
I was thinking about these past six years recently as my family was discussing the “gluten-free fad” as they like to call it. My boys were trying to convince my daughter that a low-gluten diet was her best option. They were telling her that she needed to keep a little bit in her diet or eventually her body would react severely if she gave it up completely. They told me that was my downfall. Yes, even as I type this, I am rolling my eyes at them!
I see my “gluten-free” journey as a way in which God began to prepare me to be okay with giving up stuff. Gluten made me sick…really sick…especially as I got older, had more children and had more stress. I could have kept eating it, suffering through the sick and I may have lived just as long as I would have had I not given it up, but what would have been the cost? Gluten wasn’t an immediate death sentence for me, but it was something that wasn’t good for me because it affected my life.
God sometimes asks us to give up something(s) that may look good on the outside, be socially acceptable or on your vision board. Maybe He is asking you to put down that drink for the sake of your health and/or your family. Maybe He is asking you to use your money to fund Kingdom work instead of acquiring material things. Maybe He is asking you to step out in faith and leave that profession. Maybe He is asking you to relocate your family because He has something better in store for you. Or maybe He is asking you to serve in a way you have never served before. Yes, God hates sin, but there are a lot of things out there that won’t kill us and are not outright sin that He may be asking you...maybe even telling you...to give up. He wants a better life - a God-purposed life - for all of us.
I know I feel healthier today than I did six years ago because I have given up something that was infecting my body and causing it not to be well. I didn’t have the foresight on the day of the diagnosis to see how much better I would feel. If I had, the decision to give it up might have been easier. This is where trust and faith intersect with the will of God. If He is asking you to give up something, He knows the outcome way before we do. Examine what He might be saying to you today about your soul and your life. Make the decision to live completely sold out for His name’s sake. There is always a cost to give up something, but His ways are always worth the cost.
“’And Jesus said to them, “Follow me, and I will make you become fishers of men.’ And immediately they left their nets and followed him.” – Mark 1:17-18 ESV

Erin Olson

Founder and CEO of Sandalfeet Ministries

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