Sunday, October 6, 2013

The hormone of the heart

Ask most anyone new to an exercise plan why they decided to start and there is a good chance you will receive the following answer: to lose weight. Appearance is a driving force behind hitting the gym. Those extra five pounds or that ever growing beer belly draw many people to the elliptical, seeking a quick fix to their very apparent problem.
Sure, some people may say that they want to improve their cardiovascular health or protect aging bones, but those reasons come in a distant second to the common complaint of excess weight. If a person is at a reasonable weight but doesn't work out and doesn't have any major health concerns, what are the chances that they will suddenly begin working out? Slim, I would say. In general, people are drawn to exercise and workouts so that they can obtain a physical, visible result: i.e. a lower number on the scale and smaller number on the waist band.
The trouble with this approach is that it often overlooks a much bigger problem looming underneath. Running, walking and lifting weights can be wonderful for stress release and beneficial to overall health but there is something lurking underneath that holds the key to weight loss. This missing link makes weight loss natural, not a constant battle. The key I am referring to transforms the internal functions of the body, resulting in an external change on the scale.
Hormones are the body's chemical messengers. They send messages to direct the functions of the body. From mood to metabolism, hormones are key. When they are off balance they send messages that are faulty, either not frequent enough or far too many. Some times they shut off altogether. The result is a state of internal chaos that becomes evidenced in our external bodies.
These little internal messengers answer many of the common questions of dieters and cardio-crazed exercisers: What am I doing wrong? Why am I not losing weight? The answer is most likely your hormones. You can be religious in your workout routine but if you have hormones that are on the fritz then you might as well be sitting on the couch.
Although it isn't glamorous, there are some basic steps to balancing hormones. There is a reason these steps are often overlooked in the race for weight loss. The focus of them isn't a six pack of abs. The goal is internal health, something much more nebulous and harder to wrap our feeble minds around. Diet, sleep, toxins, and supplements aren't as measurable as twenty minutes on the treadmill at a four percent incline and four MPH pace. For some people they can't get on board with a plan that won't have those kind of statistical results written in their daily exercise planner. But without fixing this underlying problem the exercise junkie will continue on a frustrating path that yo-yos in its success frequency.
We must switch our primary focus away from simply the external results of our efforts. We must begin looking at the the health of our internal body's first and foremost. Before weight loss can come the hormones must be reset and rebalanced. Once that first work is done the body can metabolize fat, send the right signals for hunger and use your food for fuel and energy, not simply storage.

In our walk of faith we have an internal system that can be out of balance, too. When our internal "hormone" is not being run by God it is not functioning properly. Again, we see the evidence of this in our daily lives.
Many people come to God for a quick fix to a problem. Just like the exerciser wants weight loss, the new Christian wants a fixed marriage, obedient children or instant happiness. They come to God's table looking for instant resolution to their greatest predicaments. But God wants our heart. He is desiring to come and dwell inside of us, transforming our lives first on the inside before we see the external evidence. 
Galatians 5:22-23 says, "But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, forbearance, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness and self-control." These are the characteristics of a heart in balance with God. You cannot fake this kind of fruit. You cannot work hard enough and do enough good deeds to make yourself a person of God. You must become balanced in the heart before you can produce a bountiful harvest in your external life. Before we can produce fruit God must come and reign in our hearts. He must put our thoughts, desires and actions into balance. It is only after this is accomplished that the work can be apparent to the outside world. There can be a change but only when God does the changing on the inside first. 
Our heart "hormone" must be put in a right relationship with God. If we come to God looking solely for blessings, putting in our volunteer hours and attending our Sunday school class for good measure, we are missing the point. Our heart is still out of balance and nothing can function properly until that is reset. 
There is nothing in the external that can be lasting and sustainable unless it has been worked out in the internal, spiritual health and physical health alike. Weight loss will be inconsistent and a struggle. Walking the straight and narrow with God will be a series of missteps. The path will be a battle instead of a joy if we are trying to do it on our own strength, grasping for the fruit and results that we can see. We must be striving for that which we cannot see. 
Truly surrendering body and soul to God is the only way He can do the work needed in our live's to rebalance our hearts. He cannot produce fruit in us if He is not the one gardening, managing and tending to our hearts. We cannot be truly, sincerely and forever changed unless we allow Him to do the changing on the inside. The external will come. Just like with rebalanced physical hormones, our spirits need time to be retaught how to walk with God. We are sinful and fallen, yet with God we can be rebuilt and restored to a right relationship with Him. He can redirect our actions, shape our thoughts and fill our soul with desires that are of Him. But He can only do this when we come to Him, heart surrendered out to Him in entire obedience and dependence.
Beloved, don't spend the rest of your days on a spiritual treadmill clocking in the hours hoping for blessed results. Surrender your heart. Lay down your claim on your life and ask God to reign in you. He will change you inside and out. He will transform your very life. You won't need to calculate and measure. You won't need to keep a progress report in a log. When you surrender your life those details will pale in comparison to the relationship you will be cultivating with your Savior. He will do the work to produce the fruit. All you have to do is allow Him to rebalance your heart "hormone."

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