I recently saw a commercial for a long-time favorite of the Price family, The Biggest Loser. It is a reality tv show that was extremely popular about a decade ago and continues to run on the USA Network. For those who need a refresher, the show features obese or overweight contestants competing to win a cash prize by losing the highest percentage of weight relative to their initial weight.
During each episode, various challenges and temptations are featured. Those who win a particular challenge are given special privileges, such as a weight advantage for the next weigh-in or even full immunity from being voted off the show.
During the 30-week competition, it is common for the contestants to lose upwards of 10lbs each week, and several have lost over 25lbs in a given week. Unbelievable right? Nope, it’s true. Unachievable right? Well, maybe. At least for most people.
As much as we like the show and are inspired by the physical, emotional, and spiritual transformations they feature, in many ways I think it can be discouraging and counterproductive for others who hope to follow in their footsteps. I mean honestly, if you took any one of us away for 30-Weeks, with full-time trainers and dietitians available 24-7, and all the encouragement we could hope for, we’d probably come back the healthiest versions of ourselves as well.
Unfortunately, without all that preferential treatment, back in the “real world” old habits tend to creep right back in, and boom, the new self has become just like the old self again. And more times than not, that is exactly what happens to the former Biggest Loser contestants. Within a relatively short period of time, they are back to their pre-show weight.
For me, Romans 7:18-19 summarizes very well the frustration that this exemplifies:
And I know that nothing good lives in me, that is, in my sinful nature. I want to do what is right, but I can’t. I want to do what is good, but I don’t. I don’t want to do what is wrong, but I do it anyway. Ahhhh! Why is that so true of us?!
We all seem to want a quick fix for all our problems, addictions, bad habits and every shortcoming in between. The honest truth however is that there is no such thing. We sometimes wish Jesus were like a genie that just “poofs” our problems away. Yeah, not so much. He loves us too much for that. He deeply desires the intimacy that comes when we fully embrace Him to work with us in our refining process.
It has been proven over and over that taking small consistent steps, over the long haul, is far more successful in bringing about lasting change than small bursts of progress. And sustainability in our spiritual lives very much mirrors that of our physical lives. If you are wanting to grow in your faith and in intimacy with Jesus, I encourage you to take small, slowly increasing steps each day. Start by reading His word a little every day and begin talking with Him about your life (prayer) more and more often. Gradually, it will become a part of your routine and eventually it will become a part of you; so much so that you can’t do without it – – And that is exactly where God hopes we’ll wind up.