Over the past few months I have come across several heartbreaking stories of children so abused and neglected that they preferred to eat trash even when offered healthy food. Honestly, I had not heard of this before. I knew that children all over the world are so hungry that trash is all they can find to eat, but PREFERRING it when offered something so much better? That thought had never occurred to me.
Whether the child was an abandoned 4 year old girl in South Korea 50 years ago, who after living on the streets for five years, would only eat from the trash; a little Hatian orphan girl, rescued just last month by an amazing organization Coreluv (we know the people who started it and they are amazing, genuine people), who would only drink out of crushed water bottles and refuse new clean ones; or a little boy in Iowa, who would dig in the trash and lick other student’s plates clean, and was found to be denied food at home under further investigation; these precious children all preferred trash to something better being offered.
These are heartbreaking stories and are just a snapshot of the broken world that so many people live in. When a world is so wrong, what is repulsive to relatively healthy people becomes the very desire of the severely broken. They have known a broken life for so long that brokenness is their choice. It’s really all they know how to choose. Thankfully, the South Korean little girl was loved out of her brokenness and went on to live a healthy and whole life, the little Hatian girl is being loved and the brokenness is giving way to healing and hopefully the little boy is getting the help he needs. Here is the thing, the ability to choose something different wasn’t enough. These precious children desperately needed a deeper healing for them to easily make the better choice. The wrong choice was the natural one because of the state of their hearts.
Hearing these stories, I couldn’t help but notice that as absurd as they sound to someone never experiencing that degree of pain, we are the very same in the hidden places of our hearts. Why else do people continue to make wrong choices and prefer to ‘eat’ the wrong things? Hearts that have not been healed by God will continue to crave the wrong things.
I really believe that this is the way off the cycle of repent, mess up, repent, mess up, repent, mess up, repent, mess up. The ‘repent’could be for thinking wrong thoughts, speaking angrily to people, sarcasm, gossiping, or any other sin habit you find yourself not being able to break. It could be a ‘big’ thing or a ‘small’ thing, but it’s still a thing you can’t get around. Usually when there is a sin habit you can’t kick, there is an underlying piece of our heart that needs healing. For instance, gossip could have an underlying fear of not being enough. That fear is sedated by talking about others because when you are in engaging in that, you feel like more. In a healed heart where God’s truth has come, that need is no longer there fueling the gossip. In fact, you will be repulsed by it because you will want to bring healing and wholeness to others, not harm.
The problem is, when we try to fill a need in our heart with sin, the sin grows because our need is only temporarily satisfied. Simply put, sin often points to a broken place that needs healed. It’s a misguided appetite. Sometimes we get used to those things and just deem them acceptable part of our lives, but is this really the freedom that Christ bought for us? Quite simply, it’s not. We can be free of the sin that entangles here and now. We don’t have to wait. Maturing is when God continues to weed out sin, heal and transform us. It will be continuing process throughout our lives. If you have believed that you are stuck in some particular thing, you have chosen the smashed up water bottle or food from the trash. I have chosen those too, but God is helping me to discard those in favor of the fresh water and bread that He gives.
I have found personally that this has been so helpful for me to understand. I find that things like fear, anger, pride, fear of man etc. don’t have the death grip they used to on me anymore. That’s not to say that they are never an issue, but when I allow God to go beyond the sin and heal the root problem, it loses its hold and allure. I’m just not that interested in living that way. I am liking the wholesome food and water that God offers a whole lot more.
The avenue to healing and overcoming sin is simply knowing Him more. This may start out as, “God, help me to see You as You are.” He is 100% capable and willing to answer this prayer. In fact, I think He is waiting for it. He wants this for our lives more than we do. When we know Him more, our appetites gradually get set straight because we see His love for us, His heart for us and we begin to see things the way He does. He didn’t just die for us to ‘get to Heaven’ and hope for the best here on earth. We are not designed to live in a cycle of defeat.
Colossians 1:13 says, For He has rescued us from the kingdom of darkness and transferred us into the kingdom of His dear Son, who PURCHASED OUR FREEDOM AND FORGAVE OUR SINS. (He came to forgive AND for our freedom)
If we are living in defeat, it’s because we’re still eating the wrong thing. The sin that is displayed in us is the result of what we’re eating. When we choose to believe lies over the truth of what He says, when we choose to believe that ‘He is against us’ when He says that He is for us, when we choose to believe that we can do it on our own and give Him a just a little second of our day and call that following, when we choose to fill our minds with filth instead of what Philippians 4:8 says is good for us, things that are true, noble, right, pure, lovely, admirable or when we choose to not forgive, when forgiveness is necessary; we are choosing to eat trash. We wonder why our appetite is skewed. God has bought so much more for us.
I Peter 2:1-3 says, So get rid of all evil behavior. Be done with all deceit, hypocrisy, jealousy and unkind speech. Like newborn babies you must crave spiritual milk so that you will grow into a full experience of salvation. Cry out for this nourishment, now that you have had a taste of the Lord’s kindness.
This can be paraphrased as, “Don’t eat trash – eat good food so that you will EXPERIENCE what Christ paid for. Cry out for this! You have experienced God’s kindness.”
The things is, in some parts of our church culture, we want both. We want to eat trash and experience God, but here’s the thing. We can’t have both. How kind would it be if we looked at any of the children mentioned above and said, “Well, it’s okay that you keep eating trash. It’s bad for you, but I still love you. I will turn a blind eye to your eating trash. In fact, I found you so that you could still eat trash, but do it in peace. You are so fortunate. In fact, you are so precious to me that I don’t mind that you keep choosing trash because I love you.”
That’s not grace. Grace isn’t the ability to keep eating trash and be God’s child. Grace is the ability to see things correctly and see trash as trash and food as food. It’s the ability to choose food over trash. He does understand and He does forgive, but as His adopted chilren, why would we keep choosing trash? We would think it absurd if after a little while in a healthy, loving environment any one of these precious children mentioned above kept eating trash. Their appetites will change as they begin to believe they are loved, safe and have their needs met. They will see things as they are.
I Peter 2:24 says, He Himself bore our sins in His body on the cross, so that we might die to sins and live for righteousness; “by his wounds you have been healed.” Once you were like sheep wandering away, but now you have turned to the Shepherd, the Guardian of your souls.
Do you see where ‘by His wounds you have been healed’ is placed? I think this means spiritually and emotionally healed as well as physically. Our heart healing is an important part of healing our wandering. In fact, this statement is sandwiched between dying to sins, living for righteousness and wandering. We can’t ignore our heart and expect to walk free. Jesus’ purpose in coming was our complete freedom!
Isaiah 61:1 says, The Spirit of the Lord GOD is upon me, Because the LORD has anointed me To bring good news to the afflicted; He has sent me to bind up the brokenhearted, To proclaim liberty to captives And freedom to prisoners;
So here’s the thing. To be free from sin, repentance is the FIRST step, but not the only step. Repentance and forgiveness pave the way for the healing and wholeness of our hearts. Forgiveness is not the same as healing. God is interested in both. Repentance is telling God we’ve been thinking differently than what He says is truth in an area, and telling Him we have been wrong and we are going to choose to think how He does in that area. It’s humbling ourselves. Hebrews 4:16 says, So let us come boldly to the throne of our gracious God. There we will receive His mercy, and we will find grace to help us when we need it most. It’s the grace to walk whole and choose the right thing.
The SECOND step is to send the enemy packing. When we have previously chosen sin in our lives (this can also mean believing lies over what God says is truth), the enemy sets up camp and sets up a stronghold in that place. We’ve given him permission to be there, afterall. We’ve essentially said that his ways and what he has to offer is better than what God offers in that area. We’ve taken the fruit. We need to send him packing. We do this by telling him we are under God’s authority now and he no longer calls the shots in that area. We command him to leave. We RESIST him. James 4:7 says, so HUMBLE yourselves before God. RESIST the devil and he will FLEE from you. He cannot reign where God has control. If you have repented and have come under the authority of God, he has no business hanging around. He just doesn’t. It’s not his right. I’ve heard it said that he doesn’t have any teeth. I would have to say just by observation that he has some pretty big teeth and can cause a lot of devastation. It’s not that he doesn’t have teeth, it’s that God is much more powerful.
The THIRD step is to ask God to go deep. We then go to God and ask Him for His eyes to see what’s going on. It’s often an unmet need that we are trying to fill in the wrong way. He is fully capable of finding the root cause and reason we are craving the wrong thing in an area. He is so good at that.
The FOURTH step is to watch what you’re eating. A LOT of the battle is in the mind and our thoughts. I was amazed when I started to pay attention to the thoughts coming into my mind. No wonder I was a mess in some areas. My thoughts were definitely not at all filled with truth. Watch your self-talk, watch what you listen to (I was amazed to see how many of the things I struggled with were actually exactly related to the types of music I listened to in highschool), watch WHO you listen to (we can all speak things that are not God), and ask God to help you sift lies from truth. He will, He does and He is able. Let’s not eat trash, but instead the good things He has for us.
*I need to give credit to the books that have been instrumental in my life in this area. They are so much more in depth and so worth the read. If you see yourself in this blog at all – PLEASE read these books. They are filled with very practical steps as well as prayers as you are processing your heart. The first book is Live Free: The Utter Relief of Holiness by John Eldredge. You can find it here . The other book that is really helpful in processing heart issues is Waking the Dead: The Glory of a Heart Fully Alive also by John Eldredge. You can find it here . I really cannot recommend these books highly enough.