Encouragement for Today - October 5, 2012


Stephanie Clayton

October 5, 2012

Renewing My Vows
Stephanie Clayton

"Sacrifice thank offerings to God, fulfill your vows to the Most High, and call on me in the day of trouble; I will deliver you, and you will honor me." Psalm 50:14-15 (NIV)

As a young girl I wanted desperately to be thin. Instead, I was the "chunky girl" on the swim team, the slightly overweight dancer, and always felt awkward in a two-piece swimsuit. When I turned 15, I discovered weight loss shakes and exercised constantly.

It worked! I lost a good deal of weight and starting hanging out with the group I'd always admired.

At that point I made an internal vow: I will never be overweight again.

During my first pregnancy I was so paranoid about weight gain I ran three miles a day until the day I gave birth to my son Ryan. I was willing to pay any price to keep my vow. I served my need and desire to be thin.

After Ryan was born, I craved being even thinner. My diet consisted mostly of sugar-free drinks and hard candy. Every now and then I'd squeeze in a meal or a few small bites of real food. Quickly I dropped another 10 pounds.

When I got pregnant with my daughter, I had a scare that landed me on bed rest and forced me to discontinue exercise and to eat more. After Lauren's birth, I went the complete opposite direction and ate everything in sight, putting on over 40 pounds.

I never really understood my battle with eating until a few months ago when I heard a sermon about generational bondage and internal vows.

Growing up, I remembered my parents struggling with their weight. In fact, my family has struggled with food issues for generations. It was a pattern I vowed not to repeat.

But rather than giving this bondage to the Lord, and looking to Him for freedom, I made a commitment to control things myself. I will NEVER be overweight again.

But the vow I made took me not just one way in the wrong direction, but to both extremes. The only way I would find a healthy balance was to give my struggle to the Lord.

I had to make a new vow with God, not myself, in a way that relinquished control to Him.

Today's key verse reminds us that we can call on the Lord in times of trouble and He will deliver us as we seek to honor Him with our lives. Yet many times we choose to see if we can get through life's difficulties on our own.

But what if we chose to sacrifice one of the greatest thank offerings of all? What if we sacrificed our need to control?

Internal vows lead to self-centered striving.

Vows made to the Lord lead to Christ-centered peace.

Can you think of any internal vows you've made as a result of pain or struggles you've experienced in your family? Are there patterns that have existed in your family for years? It doesn't have to be overeating. Other examples of generational bondage are substance abuse, anger, sexual abuse, physical violence, etc.

Internal vows may seem good on the surface, but they can be detrimental to our spiritual growth. We begin to serve our vows instead of the Lord. While it was good for my health that I did not want to repeat my family's patterns of unhealthy eating, it wasn't possible until I surrendered this area of my life completely to the Lord.

I am now on my way to a healthy weight. Not because of my own strength, but because I have made my vow to Jesus. I'm learning to trust Him to help with every area of my life, including my food cravings.

Dear Lord, when I rely on my own strength I become weary and fall. Help me place my trust in You. Your Word says that when I call on You, You will deliver and honor me! Thank You that there is freedom in the power of Your Name. I choose to look upon Your strength and guidance as I move forward. In Jesus' Name, Amen.

Related Resources:
Do You Know Jesus?

Made to Crave by Lysa TerKeurst

Stressed-Less Living by Tracie Miles

Visit Stephanie's blog for more encouragement and enter to win one of the books listed above. Winner gets to choose!

Reflect and Respond:
Draw your family tree. As you write down names, think about any internal vows they may have made. Also think about any internal vows you may have made from witnessing their struggles. Take time to reflect on any behavioral patterns you may identify.

Write down one internal vow you have made. How you can begin to offer this struggle as a thank offering to the Lord, trusting in His strength and guidance as you begin to move forward?

Power Verse:
1 Corinthians 10:13, "No temptation has seized you except what is common to man. And God is faithful; he will not let you be tempted beyond what you can bear. But when you are tempted, he will also provide a way out so that you can stand up under it." (NIV 1984)

© 2012 by Stephanie Clayton. All rights reserved.

Proverbs 31 Ministries
616-G Matthews-Mint Hill Road
Matthews, NC 28105

Originally published Friday, 05 October 2012.