Friday, February 3, 2012

Every Body Matters, by Gary Thomas (A Book Review)

Gary Thomas, in Every Body Matters, dares to blaze a trail on a subject many Christian authors and church leaders won’t even dip their toes into: sloth and gluttony. While the Bible touches on both vices, the overall number of reference verses is surprisingly few. Mr. Thomas extrapolates from these specific and similar verses, along with a number of writings of various religious leaders across the centuries. The repeated point he makes throughout the book is that, as Christians, we are to be “…instruments for special purposes, made holy, useful to the Master and prepared to do any good work.” (2 Timothy 2:21)  My summation of his basic point is this: If you spend your evenings sitting on the couch scarfing Oreos, if you have to sit down to catch your breath after climbing one flight of stairs (and you have no physical infirmity as cause), well, your body is probably not ready for “any good work” God may ask of you. The author is very careful to point out that God loves us just the way we are. God’s love for us is not what he calls into question. He surmises that as we discipline our bodies, our spiritual fitness is apt to increase as well.

So, it’s finally here, the day I swore would never come. I’m reviewing an adult, non-fiction book. In general, the only non-fiction I read are the books written by my co-blogger, Suzy Ismail. I write and read almost exclusively young adult fiction. Give me angst, exquisitely written kisses, and tons of dialogue, otherwise my eyes completely glaze over. Just saying aloud the phrase “non-fiction” sends me into fits of shuddering.

Why this book then? Perhaps because I have my Bachelor’s in Nutrition, perhaps because of the leading of the Holy Spirit, perhaps because I’m fat. Yup, I said the “F” word—get over it. God did not call us to live under the bondage of offense. That’s how the world lives, stalking around, looking for reasons to be offended. There is freedom in knowing who we are in Him. Whoops, slipped onto my soapbox. Apologies.

But even though I have a degree in Nutrition, even though my maternal grandmother died of heart disease, even though my father suffered two heart attacks and underwent a heart transplant, my BMI is entirely too high. How can that be? I have all this knowledge. Clearly, knowing and doing are two entirely different animals. I suspect a few of you might know what I’m talking about.

I’ve found that I’m much more motivated when the spiritual is brought in. The only times in my entire life I’ve been able to go without sweets were the times I fasted them as an offering for a specific prayer request. This book had a number of “ouch” moments for me. The one that stands out the most is when the author relates a scene from his past where he was at his book signing and no one showed up. The very thought of this makes the writer in me want to curl into fetal position and whimper. The author, disheartened, drowned his sorrows in a sundae. Not that the sundae was a sin. But he was using it to comfort himself instead of turning to the Prince of Peace, the one who could actually DO something about his circumstance.

So, if you are having trouble with motivation to eat healthy and exercise and if knowledge doesn’t seem to be enough, this book might be just what you need. I’m not certain I’ll ever be in a size 8 again. I’m not sure I’ll successfully trudge through the rugged terrains of “obese” and “overweight” or make it to the land of “normal weight.” But I’m down two pounds since reading the book and I was able to do something for the first time in my entire existence—I walked past the Entenmann’s holiday cupcakes without breaking my stride. But I’m at the stage of my life where I truly want to be ready—physically and spiritually—to do any good work that God throws my way. And this book gave me a start. There’s much to be said for beginnings. J
          --Suzi Ryan
*Zondervan provided me with this book free of charge for the purpose of review. The opinions expressed are my own. No other compensations have been received.

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