“Jesus Christ is the same yesterday, and today, and forever.”

Hebrews 13:8

After my annual wellness checkup, my doctor told me to give up sweets! Wow, after a lifetime of being a fan of sweets and any sweets, this was a tough request. However, the doctor was very pointed about doing this. Her reasoning was as I approached seventy, I would undoubtedly get Diabetes. So with this warning, I gave up sweets.

In a matter of four weeks, I lost thirteen pounds. The doctor explained despite all my hiking and activity; I wouldn’t lose any weight. My family has a strong history of Diabetes; my grandmother, father, and two siblings have Diabetes. Her point was as I aged, so did my Pancreas, and it seemed inevitable it would happen to me as well.

The Pancreas is vital in processing sugar; any excess is immediately processed as fat. Not only that, as the Pancreas gets older, its ability to regulate insulin weakens. In my case, I produced too much insulin, which left me hungry after every meal. The excess insulin creates the need to eat more to eliminate the extra insulin.

So I gave up the sweets, and after two weeks, I no longer craved sweets. The late-night snacks disappeared, and the weight came off. At first, when I hiked, I got tired quickly. Then over time, my body adjusted, and  I would have small snacks, like nuts, for extra fuel. Then it appears I developed a minor nut allergy! So, I substituted other snacks, like oranges and whole-grain bread. That seemed to work.

Recently, I changed my hiking goals from ten miles to sixteen. To make sixteen, I needed to do twelve miles effortlessly to even think about sixteen. On the day, I was going to do the twelve-mile trail hike, I stopped at a local convivence store and bought a Snicker bar, just in case I needed it. Then, I got in my car and drove an hour and a half to a mountain called Siler Bald in southwest North Carolina.

After I arrived, I reviewed my backpack—three liters of zero-sugar Gatorade, one orange, and two small sandwiches. For six hours of hiking, that should be enough. At the last minute, I remembered the Snicker bar, and with a bit of guilt, I put it in the pack. I headed out on a beautiful early spring day and walked to the top of the first mountain. Then after a long descent, I was getting ready to hike up one and a half miles to the top of another mountain. To this point, I had hiked over nine miles. But I was feeling very fatigued.

I debated what to do. I was well hydrated, so that wasn’t causing the fatigue. I had eaten a  sandwich and an orange; I was well-fed. Then I thought perhaps the Snicker bar, my supposed enemy. Out of choices, I guiltily ate the Snicker bar. In the past, I had used Snicker bars for that last push of the day. My thinking was maybe this was the exception to no sugar.

Remarkably, after ten minutes, I was back to normal. And when I had finished the climb, I felt great. The trip back to the car was all downhill, another one and a half miles. When I finished, surprisingly, I was not tired or sore. It seemed my enemy, sugar, had helped.

As I drove home, I recalled the Snicker bar commercials where people were not themselves and then ate a Snicker Bar to revive themselves. A commercial whose claim really worked. Now, this didn’t mean I could go back to sugar during a regular day. But on long hiking days, I could still have my Snicker bar.

In a world where some things are good today and then change to being bad. We are often confused about what to believe. This was the case with the Snicker Bar; most times, for pre-diabetic people, the Snicker Bar is akin to poison. Yet other days, it is worthwhile.

We sometimes hear old math is bad and new math is good. Then later, we read the opposite. It seems life is filled with these see-saw thoughts. You watch the news on one channel, and you get a completely different view on another. Some people like a particular author, and others find them boring. Some people like Ford trucks, and others will tell you why the Ram truck is better.

Life is like that a lot. There doesn’t seem to be much that is consistent. For the individual, it seems what was up is now down. What was true is now false. The Snicker Bar is bad sometimes, and other times good. As I thought about all these mixed messages, I wondered, So what or whom can we always count on?

Later I remembered the verse in Hebrews, where it is written, “Jesus Christ was the same yesterday, and today, and forever.” I find this statement profound. In a world of many varied opinions, and what was good is now bad, and what was bad is now good, Jesus is always the same.

In times of stress, Jesus is always a refuge. His words spoken two thousand years ago have survived the test of time. His grace and mercy for the first-century citizen are the same for the twenty-first citizen. So in our lives, Jesus is always present and knocking on our door with the same message many centuries later.

So, I won’t have a Snicker Bar unless I am on a long hike. Then it is good, but at other times it is bad. But I have Jesus on both the easy hikes and long hikes. He is always just the same, good!

On my sixteen-mile hike, I will bring a Snickers bar.

1 reply
  1. Bill Melville
    Bill Melville says:

    Dr. Hartman,
    A wonderful story. Glad to see your blog back again. Let us know when we can expect your next book.

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