Some of God’s greatest gifts come wrapped up in ugly packages. As many of you know I became gluten intolerant this year. To say I wasn’t happy is an understatement. But you know, I am beginning to be so blessed by it. Being gluten intolerant is a gift of many lessons.
One of the first lessons being gluten intolerant has taught me is that of gratefulness. When someone thinks of my dietary needs, I am so thankful. Something so little, that has a negligible financial cost, makes me feel so loved. At Christmas, my daughters, Tabitha, Angie and Sarah all heeded my dietary needs. Angie went above and beyond, learning how to make fried chicken gluten-free. Tabby made an awesome gluten-free chocolate mousse. That thoughtfulness is so appreciated. It is, in and of itself, a gift. And I think my attitude of gratitude is a gift from God.
Second, I am learning self-discipline. Last semester I prayed for self-discipline, but I didn’t EXPECT to have to become gluten-intolerant to achieve it. But I am learning it. For example, two of my friends and I went out-to-eat at Ruby Tuesday’s in Fayetteville, Arkansas, last week. Ruby Tuesday’s has begun to serve cheese & garlic biscuits as part of a meal. So, two inches from my plate (literally) was a plate of biscuits which I did not touch. They looked good, but I knew the pain they would cause me. First, I’d have stomach pain and then my hand would break open and the poison would literally bleed out. So, eating those delicious looking biscuits weren’t worth it. That’s the way it is with sin. As I wrote these words I began to weep. Jesus bled to wash out (away) my sin. I bleed to wash away my gluten. Isn’t that a beautiful gift from God for me? To show me, in my little human, finite understanding, just how insidious sin is?
Another lesson I have begun to see is how insidious gluten is. It is everywhere and is so accepted but I have to be on my guard constantly to avoid it. I went out to eat the other day with a friend and inadvertently ate some. Last night, when I was so uncomfortable and suffering an obvious gluten reaction, I took to googling some of the things I ate and voila! There was gluten hidden in places I would never have imagined.
That’s how sin is. When we are having a meal with a friend and begin talking about a classmate or co-worker in a gossipy way, there is sin. When we have one too many, whether it is a brownie or a drink, there is sin. When we are hateful or mean, there is sin. So gluten, like sin, sneaks in, in places and ways that we are blind to, unless we stay on our guard to protect our hearts from sin. Luke 21:34, 36 says “Be careful or your hearts will be weighed down with carousing, drunkenness and the anxieties of life, and that day will close on you like a trap. Be always on the watch, and pray that you may be able to escape all that is about to happen, and that you may be able to stand before the Son of Man.” Wow. Not guarding my heart can lead to unpreparedness and inability to stand before Christ.
Luke 6:45 explains that what is in our heart is our treasure. “A good man out of the good treasure of his heart bringeth forth that which is good; and an evil man out of the evil treasure of his heart bringeth forth that which is evil: for of the abundance of the heart his mouth speaketh.” I don’t know about you but I want to have good treasures, both here and in heaven. I want my heart to be as clean as possible. If God in His infinite wisdom has chosen to give me a gluten intolerance to teach lessons about gratitude and sin and having a clean heart, I can finally say I am thankful for this lesson. It is a gift.
Now my question to you, my beloved friends, what things in your life are you angry at God about? What things are you saying is unfair? Maybe, if you try to see it from God’s perspective and an eternal perspective, you might find it is a gift and not a curse. Just maybe. Selah.