From Health to Holiness: A Shift in Focus

perfect grapes

“Continually restate to yourself what the purpose of your life is.  The destined end of man is not happiness, nor health, but holiness.”  Oswald Chambers

For the past two weeks, I have been on a journey to sugar-free, plant-based eating.  In yesterday’s post, I said that today I would share some of the books I’ve been reading to that end. Then, I came across the above quote last night, and everything shifted.

I’m not giving up on eating well, but I realized that my pursuit of health has overtaken my pursuit of holiness. Chambers continues, “Nowadays we have far too many affinities, we are dissipated with them; right, good, noble affinities which will yet have their fulfillment, but in the meantime God has to atrophy them . . . At all costs a man must be rightly related to God.”

I am slowly coming to terms with the fact that Satan can use good things to derail my relationship with God.  I will get an idea or cause in my head, and it consumes all of my attention.  My bookshelves become piled high with books on the matter, which in turn means I am poring over them and meditating on their information, instead of devoting myself to God’s Word.

Some other things that have stolen my attention in the past include:

Anything I feel passionate about or develop an insatiable curiosity for has the power to distract me from my true life’s purpose: holiness.  In his book, You and Me Forever: Marriage in Light of Eternity, Francis Chan says, “At times, we all overvalue our own pursuits, while ignoring the desires of God and others.  The solution is to stare at God.  When we actually stare at Him, everything else falls into place.”

Throughout the gospels, Jesus asks- no, tells- people to follow Him.  In order to follow someone, our eyes must be fixed on them.  In order to follow Jesus, I have to be looking at Him “through the light of His Word.”  I won’t find Him when my head is stuck in books on sugar detoxes, my mind saturated with plant-based recipes and dogmatic perspectives on eating meat.

Chambers says, “If we believe in Jesus, it is not what we gain, but what He pours through us that counts.  It is not that God makes us beautifully rounded grapes, but that He squeezes the sweetness out of us.”

I can gain perfect health, perfect simplicity, perfect knowledge on any given topic, but what does it do for the cause of Christ? Jesus asks us to lay our lives down and to pour them out, as He did for us on the cross. “Whoever seeks to preserve his life will lose it, but whoever loses his life will keep it.

To the honorable, rich man Jesus said, “If you want to be perfect, go, sell your possessions and give to the poor, and you will have treasure in heaven.  Then come, follow Me.” Is there anything in my life more valuable than knowing Christ, anything more important than His call to make disciples?

I may yet get to that post on the books I’ve been reading.  But for now, I am going to be focused on what truly matters: being rightly related to my God.

What is distracting you from God?  What are you holding onto that is keeping you from following Him wholeheartedly?  Will you lay it down and surrender yourself to Him?

As I wrote this, the beautiful old hymn, “I’d Rather Have Jesus” came to mind.  Here is a video of the song, with the lyrics below.

I’d rather have Jesus than silver or gold;
I’d rather be His than have riches untold;
I’d rather have Jesus than houses or lands;
I’d rather be led by His nail-pierced hand

Than to be the king of a vast domain
Or be held in sin’s dread sway;
I’d rather have Jesus than anything
This world affords today.

I’d rather have Jesus than men’s applause;
I’d rather be faithful to His dear cause;
I’d rather have Jesus than worldwide fame;
I’d rather be true to His holy name

He’s fairer than lilies of rarest bloom;
He’s sweeter than honey from out the comb;
He’s all that my hungering spirit needs;
I’d rather have Jesus and let Him lead


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