My Chains are Gone…

“My chains are gone, I’ve been set free.
My God, my Savior has ransomed me.
And like a flood, His mercy rains –
Unending love, amazing grace.”

– Chris Tomlin

The phrase “my chains are gone, I’ve been set free” is one of the first thoughts I remember when I woke up in my hospital room on March 30th. That sense that God had delivered me from a chain that had held me prisoner all my life was so overwhelming, that it brought tears to my eyes. And so far, He has shown me that breaking the chain is exactly what He did. No difficulties adapting to my new life, no long times of lamenting over cookies and rolls never to be eaten again, and no regrets on following His path into this new way of living.

In short, there is nothing I’ve given up that is worth everything He has brought me to. My body is changing daily, my health is improving, and I’ve smiled more in the last three months than I think I did in the previous three years (or more). (and did I mention that Vicki and I went twelve miles on our trikes last Monday??) Am I tempted to see what I can “get away with?” No, not really. Does food still look good to me? Of course – it was my stomach that was taken, not my eyeballs. So do I then grab what looks good and eat it regardless of the consequences? Nope. I don’t know what some things would do to me, and I don’t feel like finding out.

“Wow. You must have some will power.”

No – not really. I mean, look at me. If will power is what was needed, how did I end up looking like this? It took Divine mercy and grace to free me from bondage. Nothing less than the power of God to release me from something that had held me in its grip all my life.

And realizing something important that will help keep me on this path…

Long, long ago – so far away that I can’t remember when – I made a decision. I decided that I would never consciously consume alcohol. I’m sure that somewhere along the line I’ve eaten something at some restaurant that contained alcohol, but I made a decision to never drink. Ever. As the child of an alcoholic, I knew that the same thing could be released in me if I let it. Better to never know what it’s like – the taste, the effect it has on me, all of it – than to try and walk away after the fact. And that’s a decision I’ve never broken. I won’t consume it, I won’t cook with it, and even though I’m sure I drive Vicki to the point of wanting to drink sometimes, she’s joined me in this lifestyle.

(For the record, I have no issues with someone’s decision to drink. I do think it’s something that you need to give careful thought to, just as we should with most areas of our lives, and to listen to God’s guidance in that decision. That being said, it’s an area of liberty that believers can decide for themselves. My decision is just that – mine. Your mileage may vary…)

I was and am a food addict – my dad chose alcohol, and I chose cupcakes. And hamburgers. And fried chicken. And donuts. And… sorry. You get the idea. But then God intervened, setting me free in ways that I’m just starting to realize. And the decision not to eat things that I know will harm me is becoming a decision very much like a decision to not drink alcohol. That same resolve, that same “no question about it” has begun to apply to more than just drinking. When God released my chains, He did more than unhook them – He shattered them. Does that cinnamon roll look amazing, gooey and tempting? Oh yeah. Am I going to eat it? No – not really interested. I’d much rather keep on this path and see where it leads.

Finally, I do realize that I’m still in the “honeymoon phase” of my new life. Just over three months out, the weight is dropping off, I’m doing things I haven’t been able to do in years, and all is groovy. But at six months? A year? After I hit the first plateau and stop dead in my tracks? What will happen to all my sunny resolve then?

That’s why I’m laying these words down. I’ll need them soon, to keep my eyes and my focus where they should be. So that when it’s snowing and ten below outside, and the trike is all bundled away for the season, and I’m stuck inside with nothing but a recliner and a bag of chips to keep me company, I can be reminded of how incredible today is, and where God has brought us over the last three months. And I can remember that just like that decision I made so long ago, I’ve made another decision – with the same resolve – to keep on this new path and live this adventure that the Lord has put in front of us.

(My nephew has volunteered to help with this – something about “if we see you slipping, we’ll slap you.” That’ll keep a guy on the straight and narrow, eh?)

Then we’ll throw the trikes into the van, pack a bag and head down to Andy & Shan’s place. Hopefully they won’t have too much snow and we can get a little mid-winter trike riding in. Or really late fall. Or really early spring. Come to think of it, it might be time to go visit that lot in Arizona we’re interested in. Should be nice triking weather down there! We’re gonna be spending a lot on gas…

Saddle up, buttercup – it’s gonna be a great ride!

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