When I was asked to write a follow-up story to one I’d written over four years ago entitled “L…F…U…B…F…J” (Lazy, fat, ugly, b*tch who is a failure) I realized I needed to go back and re-read it myself. To my amazement I could hardly read it; I wanted to cover my eyes in shame at the person who wrote it. Little did I realize at the time that although it was written from my heart, that person’s self esteem and image was so incredibly demeaning and condemning that she bears little resemblance to the person I am now. Towards the end of the article I must have listened to the Lord’s instructions when he told me, “Daughter, no matter how much one cleans up and dresses up the outside, if there’’s been no change in the heart, it’’s all empty. But I am changing that in you and I began to become that person who was “Looking Forward to an Unbelievably Bigger, Brighter, Better, Beautiful Future with Jesus.”

Since that time my physical weight has fluctuated up and down and at this point I’m holding steady at a minus 25 pounds, but the transformation hasn’t been so much a physical one. Most people would think that success would involve a weight loss of 100 pounds or more with a toned body and a super positive outlook. Such was not to be in my life. Transformational weight loss has come more in losing the negative thought-life and the toxic lies whispered in my ear about my past and who I am to be.  The strong, confident and peaceful woman I have become has far surpassed anything physical weight loss could accomplish. Physical weight comes and goes, but when the Lord God Almighty tells me that the screw-ups of my past, the lies told me of my past and all that hinders me are gone, they are gone. As far as the east is from the west, His abounding love for me has erased that attitude from my life. The blood of Jesus shed for me truly has covered all my sin and I am a new creature in Christ. That transformation has far exceeded my hopes and desires exceedingly more than I could ever dream possible.

This may sound a bit strange, but the new life He’s given me reminds me of grapes. There are some bunches of grapes made by our Creator to be enjoyed fresh off the vine; some grapes are created to become jams and jellies; some are created to become raisins, and then there are some varieties of grapes created to become fine wines. All the grapes have a purpose, some to be enjoyed immediately, some have to go through a straining and cooking process in order to be enjoyed. Some are created to be dried for a length of time, and then there are others who must go through long years of fermentation to become wines that are savored for special occasions.

None of these processes are wrong or failures. They are simply birthed for different purposes and require different lengths of time to develop into what their Creator designed them to be. It’s not their “fault” that more of His blessings are poured out into their lives.

There’s only one thing that all these grapes must have happen in order to develop into their purpose…: they must be crushed. You can’t drink grapes; you can’t spread a whole grape onto a peanut butter sandwich; you can’t make a grape into a raisin without a crushing process.

Such is the case in the life of a believer who desires God’s purpose to be fulfilled in their life. I thought that what I needed in order to be useful in God’s Kingdom work was physical weight loss. Yet I knew that seeking to lose the weight from the world’s perspective was not for me. That’s why I reached out to LiveLiving’s Editor, Etta Dale. The Lord led me to her site to show me the basics of healthy living (and I’m still working on that). I thought that would be the be-all, end-all answer to my desires.

What the Lord gave me was more than a quick-fix-physical-weight-loss plan. He gave me a fuller, richer life, alive-living, a life that has taken me the last five years to realize He has more in store for me than a quick-fix.

There has been much crushing in my life to remove pre-set mindsets long believed. Failures galore have riddled my life in the fermentation process. Yet I’m coming to appreciate that He has created me to be a fine wine at His table, and one day, when He chooses, it will be poured out for others to experience. The journey continues and I’m at peace with His refining process… most of the time. Still, even when I don’t understand and the process is painful, I know that He is working all things together for my good and His glory and I give Him praise even in that, for I know He inhabits my praise.

Ephesians 3:17-20 (NLT) tells me that “…Christ will make his home in your hearts as you trust in him. Your roots will grow down into God’s love and keep you strong.  And may you have the power to understand, as all God’s people should, how wide, how long, how high, and how deep his love is. May you experience the love of Christ, though it is too great to understand fully. Then you will be made complete with all the fullness of life and power that comes from God.  Now all glory to God, who is able, through his mighty power at work within us, to accomplish infinitely more than we might ask or think.”