Going Deeper

Anchor habits

Staying healthy has always been an uphill battle for me, and for good reason. I have had a lifelong love-affair with food, and have generally hated exercise. I used to be a jogger, but every time I ran I battled the temptation to just give up, lie down on the pavement and order a pepperoni pizza. This thought would become almost overwhelming once I had completed a considerable distance, like 500 yards. Then I joined a yoga class, only to find that I was the only man in a group of 28 women, all of whom stunningly pliable and were surely fighting flatulence. Working out at the gym had its challenges too. Squeezing myself into lycra, I looked like an overstuffed sausage skin that was on the brink of bursting. And it didn’t help that my puffing and panting exertions were witnessed by smirking, sleek, muscle-bound superhumans who had no right to be seen in a gym. Finally, I decided that something had to be done, mainly because I could no longer look down and see my feet, them being partially eclipsed by the burgeoning planet that was my stomach. I didn’t have much hope for success, but it was a biblical insight from the garden of Eden that propelled me into action.

I realised that my historical downfall had been caused because of negotiation. I would decide on an exercise routine, (usually on New Year’s Eve) but then the next morning the bedside alarm would yank me out of slumber, and the negotiations would begin. I’m tired, I have a busy day, it’s cold outside, I’ll do it tomorrow, I’m too old for this’. The reasons for postponing were endless. I surely identified with Solomon’s ancient wisdom: ‘Loafers say, ‘It’s dangerous out there! Tigers are prowling the streets!’and then pull the covers back over their heads (Proverbs 26:13 Msg). Tigers are generally in short supply in my locality, but you never know….

And so finally I decided to create what I’d like to call an anchor habit. It’s simple, but takes some thought. You carefully decide what you are going to do, and you make sure it’s realistic. I’m not going to determine to run three marathons a week; in fact, I’m not planning on running one marathon ever. And then you predetermine what your emergency get-out clauses will be, and only, in those circumstances, will you not do what you’ve planned to do. And then, you do it. No discussion. Get out of your head. Negotiations are simply not allowed.

Negotiation caused the fall of humanity. The first couple in Eden were given a clear directive: don’t eat from that tree. The command was given to anchor them into what God wanted. And then, when a chatty snake in the grass showed up, the negotiations began. That exchange eroded their resolve, and made paradise lost, with disastrous cosmic results.

Satan took a similar conversational approach to Jesus, when He was fresh from baptism and heading into ministry. It was then that the devil came to Jesus with some tempting offers. Come on, Jesus, you’re hungry. Bake a wonder loaf from those stones. Worship me, and have a throne - there’s no cross needed. Prove yourself by taking a jump from the temple pinnacle. The Father of lies is a slick salesman, and even quoted scripture during the bargaining.

But Jesus had no time for that chit-chat. It is written, He declared. Three times. No negotiation.

So perhaps it’s time to bring an end to the discussions and deliberations that can reverberate endlessly in our heads, and get on with choosing well.

And at the risk of sounding smug, I’m happy to report that two months later, I’m fitter, happier, planet stomach has been tamed and my feet have miraculously reappeared. The anchor, I’m glad to say, is holding.


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