“Do you love Me more than sugar?”
The thought startled me out of my reverie. What kind of a question is that?! Of course I love Jesus. I had grown up in church, surrendered my life to Him at the age of five, and faithfully served Him ever since. I had loved Jesus as far back as I could remember.
“But if you’d have to give up sugar—for the rest of your life—would you do it?” Now why would I do that?
“Would you choose Jesus over sugar?” The questions pelted me like an unwelcomed hail storm.
This was getting out of hand. Of course I’d choose Jesus. I’d given my life to Jesus! I’d die for Him!
“…Then why run to the cookies instead of running to the cross? Why seek solace in the ice cream pint rather than the Prince of Peace? Why feast on warm bread rolls instead of the Bread of Life?”
My life slowly came into focus, scenes from past binges flashing before me. I slowly realized that with my mouth I confessed one thing as true, but my eating habits revealed another truth entirely.
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Sugar was my savior, not Jesus.
My heart broke in two.
“What do I do?” I cried out to the empty sunroom, the rays streaming through billowy curtains, despair overrunning my soul. My eyes fell to the paragraphed I had underlined just moments before that daunting question had first come to mind, this time reading it more slowly:
“If you don’t feel strong desires for the manifestation of the glory of God, it is not because you have drunk deeply and are satisfied. It is because you have nibbled so long at the table of the world. Your soul is stuffed with small things, and there is no room for the great. God did not create you for this. There is an appetite for God. And it can be awakened. I invite you to turn from the dulling effects of food and the dangers of idolatry, and to say with some simple fast: ‘This much, O God, I want you.’” (John Piper, A Hunger for God)
This much, O God. This much.
…As much as I crave my morning mocha.
…As much as I desire a second serving of pie.
…As much as I anticipate the taste of my next sugar fix.
That much? No. If I was being honest, I didn’t desire God that much. But I wanted to.
“Help me want You more,” I wrote in my journal that day. “Stir in me a hunger for You.” And that was when the Spirit began piercing my soul with His convicting questions, not to heap condemnation, but to lead to inner transformation. His invitation to me was clear: a 40 day sugar fast to break the stronghold it had become in my life and train my affection on Christ alone.
I drew in a shaky breath and agreed.
A few days into my sugar fast, withdrawal hit me hard. What had I done? What was I thinking? This was crazy! Not only had my sugar cravings intensified, but a hidden part of me had surfaced that I had never seen before. I was irritable, impatient, and intent on getting my way. I snapped at anyone who so much as looked at me the wrong way.
All I could think about was sugar: donuts, milkshakes, creamer, cookies, instant oatmeal… even ketchup. Sugar was everywhere! And I was craving it hard with reckless abandon, much like a drug addict. The pull toward sweets seemed magnetic.
“I’m not going to make it,” I confessed under my breath when a coworker brought cookies to share with us at work. “I can’t do this anymore.”
But God, being rich in mercy, provided just what I needed. I learned an online friend was leading a 40 day sugar fast—oh the “coincidences” that come when we learn to trust Him!—and I immediately signed up to join her, eager for the community and accountability.
Wendy proved a trustworthy companion. Gentle yet firm, she redirected our gaze away from our momentary sacrifice to fix our eyes on the grand prize. Not skinnier thighs or a healthier thyroid, not glowing skin or grounded emotions. No. These may occur, but our reward is Jesus.
He is enough. And in fasting from the small things of this world like sugar, we invite Him to awaken in us a hunger for Him. For “He satisfies the longing soul, and the hungry soul He fills with good things,” (Psalm 107:9 ESV), yes, even with Himself.
That 40 day sugar fast with Wendy taught me that this wasn’t really a sugar issue after all—it was a heart issue. Jesus wants our undivided, unadulterated affection. He wants us to love Him with all our hearts, all our souls, all our minds, and all our strength (Mark 12:30). All of us. Everything. Every last molecule crying out for more of Him. And when we beg Him to lead us to that place of longing, He will gladly satisfy us with the very best He has to offer: Himself.
The enemy of our souls comes only to steal, kill, and destroy, and he often uses sugar addiction to cripple us spiritually, emotionally, and physically. But Jesus has overcome, and He offers us the full life found in Him alone (John 10:10).
That first fast became the battle grounds where I first discovered the truths I share in Full: Food, Jesus, and the Battle for Satisfaction. Over the years that followed, Wendy graciously invited me to join her in leading the 40 Day Sugar Fast, and we saw thousands of women encounter the freedom and fullness found in Jesus when we give Him everything—even our sugar addiction.
This journey will not be easy, friends, but it is so worth it. Because Jesus is our satisfaction, and He is our reward.
Better even than chocolate cake?
Oh yes. Come and see.
We’d love to have you join us for the fourth annual 40 day sugar fast. Come join us here: www.wendyspeake.com/sugar-fast
This post is inspired by my book Full: Food, Jesus, and the Battle for Satisfaction. Discover the joy of living free from food fixation so you can experience deeper satisfaction in Christ, gain a renewed sense of purpose, and yes, even enjoy good food (without regret).