I had the most interesting conversation today about the book of Daniel, chapter one. It revolved around dieting and faith. The thing I hate the most in relation with the thing I love the most!
The book of Daniel is compiled of the adventures of Daniel, an man who is an interpreter of dreams for the king. He survives many of the king’s faith tests– like chillin in a lion’s den without being eaten alive and hanging out in a fiery furnace without burning to death. Those were the images of Daniel I had growing up in Sunday school.
Before the dream interpretations and the tests, the first chapter of Daniel describes how he and his friends were brought into the court by the king and were told to eat the awesome royal food to stay fit and healthy for the king.
Daniel and his friends refuse– maybe because they don’t want to give up their identity as Hebrew people following kosher food laws, or maybe because they want to show they worship God and not the king. Either way, they end up eating vegetables and drinking water for ten days, and everyone is amazed that they stay strong and healthy.
Fast forward out of Biblical times and into today– I learned today that there is an ACTUAL diet called “the Daniel diet”, which (of course), is mainly composed of eating vegetables and drinking water for 10 days. The diet is made to cleanse your body of toxins and bring you closer to God.
I really must interject here and say that personally– the experience OF food and not withdrawal FROM food has always made me closer to God. Potlucks, church meals, heck– communion (EATING bread, DRINKING juice) have all been God experiences for me. As stated in my last post about teaching fourth grade Sunday school, there is something about talking about faith while eating a snack that opens the entire discussion up for anything.
So dieting as a way to get closer to God?
I did some research a while back and found a diet book I could actually jive with. It’s called “Made to Crave” by Lysa Terkeurst. Lysa talks about how we have replaced craving God with craving food, and when we realign our craving with God, we become healthier in mind AND body. One line that swayed me in was when Lysa wrote “This wasn’t really about the scale or what clothing size I was; it was about this battle that raged in my heart.”
It got me thinking about the privilege of food and the insane availability I have to it as a white, middle-class American. Reading that book put a lot of things into perspective for me. It also reminded me of what a dear coworker/friend brought up on day at work while talking about servant trips she had been on over the years. She stated that for some people, eating is a chore– a routine. It’s not for enjoyment– it’s for survive.
Or, going back to Daniel, it’s a way to draw oneself deeper to God and connect with the spirit.
Lent is coming up in a matter of minutes. I’ve thought about trying the Daniel diet for the first ten days. But I also thought about giving up something more than just physical– I want to give up my mental and physical excess of things.
I don’t want to give in to the abundance of “things” that our society deems valuable
I want to stop worrying so much about frivolous things when there are REAL problems today that need attention.
I want to cut out the crap that I eat and simplify my life back down to vegetables.
Maybe in all this de-cluttering of mind and body, I will get a clearer vision of what our creator wants for my life and what I should spend my energy focusing on. Or maybe I will get above and beyond my daily dose of nutrition. Either way, it’s a win.
What are your Lenten goal/goals? Are you giving anything up, or are you making a promise to add something to your life? Please share!