• A year after this was written I began my fitness journey.  In the ten years between August 2011 and 2021 I’ve lost 30 pounds and gotten stronger.  


According to the B.M.I. from the C.D.C. I am F.A.T. Translation? The Center for Disease Control has a chart calculates your “Body Mass Index.” So at 5’ 11” and 205 pounds, I am overweight. (Perhaps you are still haunted by the picture of my physique in this paper’s July 31 article “Pastors Take a Break,” known in my home as the “Swimsuit Edition”).

I don’t look overweight, but the CDC tells me I am. And I am sure it is more about health than appearance. If I lost 26 pounds, I would no longer be overweight. If I gained 15 pounds, I would be considered obese. It’s important to set goals, right? According to recently released statistics by calorielab.com, I am not alone. Two/thirds (66.5%) of Arkansans are overweight or obese. We’ve made the top ten! But, unfortunately, not a ranking we should be proud of.

Frankly, I like my girth. I was always a small kid growing up so having a little heft is a nice change. But, alas, being overweight is not a good thing. Most troublesome are the health issues related to being overweight. Diabetes, heart disease, high blood pressure and certain types of cancer are just some of the health problems exacerbated by being overweight.

But there are other problems with being overweight. Spiritual problems. For example, if I have developed a sedentary lifestyle, will I be motivated to get out and do what God wants me to do? Will I go on a mission trip, visit potential church members or participate in a jail ministry if I feel too sluggish to get up and move around? If I get sick or don’t feel well, will I be able to fulfill God’s plans for my life? If I’m too busy battling the complications of being overweight will I be available to care for others who are sick and hurting? The list goes on.

And there is another spiritual issues related to being overweight. Am I taking care of myself? Have I accepted the fact that God loves me more than I can imagine? Do I love myself? Am I treating myself as someone who is dearly loved? Am I worth being healthy? Am I worth feeling good? Am I worth being active and able to keep up with my family? Am I worth a great night sleep and busy, yet fulfilling day?

I understand that equating health habits with receiving God’s love can be an oversimplification, but there is truth here. Somewhere there is a crucial connection between how we take care of our bodies and our relationship with God. Hopefully, living and breathing in God’s love eventually sinks in. Spending time with our loving God will change us. As we realize we are loved we realize we are worth taking care of. As we realize God satisfies our the deepest needs of our heart, we stop using food to satisfy ourselves. As we cherish the time we spend with our God who loves us, we want to be where he is – off the sofa and actively serving those in need.

In my life, and perhaps in yours, there is a correlation between spending time enjoying God’s love and what I do to take care of myself. And as I lose those pounds that make me overweight I don’t begin with diets or elaborate exercise plans or lifestyle changes. I begin by stepping back and realizing that there is much more at stake than what the scales say. I begin…with love.