Fourteen years ago, I was diagnosed as a Type-2 diabetic. You could have blown me over with a feather. Diabetes was not really prevalent in my family tree. My dad had been diagnosed at sixty-three years old, but I was forty-three! It was quite a shock. As was the class with the nutritionist that Renée and I attended later. I learned all about carbohydrates and how all carbohydrates turn to sugar, so I needed to severely limit my intake of carbs. Do you know what carbs are in? Everything! That means no sugar, sauces, sweet pickles, or salad dressings. No candy, milk, or soda. Anything that has flour has carbohydrates. That means no pasta, no breads, pizza, cakes, cookies, chips, crackers, or bagels! I loved bagels! No McDonalds, Burger King, Wendy’s, or Five Guys. All fast food is pretty much a no. It is not easy, but so many people struggle with far worse things. I truly am blessed that, at least in the 21st century, there are a myriad of sugar-free options, which diabetics did not have seventy or better years ago.
Renée, my wife of thirty-nine years this October, has been on this journey with me and has really been a trooper. She is constantly experimenting with alternatives like almond flour and coconut flour in order to make something close to what I used to enjoy. As a result, I have had cookies, cakes, and pies all made with almond flour and Truvia (a sweetener made from the Stevia plant). I so appreciate her effort and it all tastes good, but it is never the same as the original. It’s not her fault. Pizza crust made with almond flour or cauliflower is just not the same. I would not expect it to be. They are substitutes.
Similarly, there is no substitute for Christ. Philippians 4:7 tells us that only in Christ Jesus can we experience God’s peace, which passes all understanding. Galatians 5 reminds us that when we walk with the Lord, “the Holy Spirit produces this kind of fruit in our lives: love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, and self-control” (Galatians 5:22). The list of ways people seek peace is endless. You can try to fill what is missing in your life with money, drugs, alcohol, or sex, but they are all substitutes. You will never find what you are seeking until you seek Jesus. You may think a bagel made with coconut flour tastes good, but eat one and then sink your teeth into a genuine Jewish New York bagel boiled in water for a couple of minutes to give it that flavorful, modestly sweet taste, with a chewy, soft, shiny crust. There is no comparison. You simply cannot fake real bagels any more than you can fake true peace, joy, kindness, patience, gentleness and love.
So, if you feel as if something is missing in your life, stop looking elsewhere. Come to Jesus. If you know someone else who feels that way, tell them about Jesus. He promises, “…everyone who asks, receives. Everyone who seeks, finds. And to everyone who knocks, the door will be opened” (Matthew 7:8). Nothing will ever taste as good as the bread of life – Jesus Christ. He – not Coca Cola – is the real thing.
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