Treats for the Heart: Dark Chocolate and Intimacy with God | February 21st, 2022
I admit, I’m a bit of a chocoholic. Dark chocolate, that is. I’m thankful my taste buds prefer the dark variety with at least 70% cocoa which happens to be the healthiest, giving me zero guilt when consuming a bite or two of it every day!
February is National Chocolate Lovers Month, a great reason to eat a little extra of the heart-healthy treat this month. Our heart is at the center of the circulatory system, a complex network of vessels that delivers blood to every part of our body so that oxygen and other nutrients can get to all of the organs. If the heart stops functioning, it won’t take much time for everything else to begin shutting down. It’s important for the heart to stay strong and healthy for the rest of the body.
Dark chocolate has amazing ingredients that offer health benefits to keep the heart ticking and many other systems in the body to function most efficiently…
Antioxidants – Natural molecules which help fight off free radicals in the body that are linked to heart disease and cancer
Flavonoids – Plant-based antioxidants which enhance blood flow to the brain and heart, boosting memory and the ability to focus; they also provide vibrance and radiance to the skin. And they reduce stickiness of blood platelets to lower the risk for stroke and blood clots.
Polyphenols – Compounds found in plant foods such as the cocoa bean (a rich source) which can increase the levels of HDL (good cholesterol) and help reduce the levels of LDL (bad cholesterol)
Theobromine – A mild stimulant present in cacao which serves as a mood booster improving energy levels, focus, and alertness
Phenylethylalanine – A natural antidepressant found in dark chocolate that produces the euphoric feeling of falling in love
Intimacy for a Healthy Heart
Also vital for heart health is something that is found in close relationships. It’s called intimacy…truly knowing and being known by another person. Research has discovered that social isolation and loneliness can directly increase the risk of coronary heart disease (CHD) and stroke by 29%, similar to the impact of job stress and anxiety which are two huge risk factors for CHD.
On a positive note, a survey taken of 5,000 people by the National Bureau of Economic Research found that doubling your group of friends has the same effect on your well-being as a 50% increase in income! What a difference friendships can make in our physical health.
Most of us have several acquaintances or casual friendships, but we all have a need for someone with whom we feel very close to – who knows us at a deeper level. That’s the way God designed us.
Some of the ingredients for intimacy include feeling safe, loved, known, connected, and being able to trust. If any of these ingredients are omitted, intimacy is not possible.
Once we give our heart to God, He desires more than anything for us to share in an intimate relationship with Him. When we seek closeness, we are in for a real treat. Unlike our relationships with others that can easily disappoint, we are able to experience perfect, complete intimacy with Him.
We can be sure of this because of His promises to us…
We can feel safe with Him
“As for God, his way is perfect: The Lord’s word is flawless; he shields all who take refuge in him.” 2 Samuel 22:31
We are deeply loved
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. Ephesians 3:18-19
We are completely known
O Lord, You have searched me and known me. You know when I sit down and when I rise up; You understand my thought from afar. You scrutinize my path and my lying down, and are intimately acquainted with all my ways. Even before there is a word on my tongue, behold, O Lord, You know it all. Psalm 139:1-4
We can connect with Him
“Then you will call on me and come and pray to me, and I will listen to you. You will seek me and find me when you seek me with all your heart.” Jeremiah 29:12-13
We can fully trust Him
He will not be afraid of bad news. His heart is strong because he trusts in the Lord. Psalm 112:7
Perhaps you, like many others, fear intimacy. Some of the most common fears that get in the way of true intimacy include abandonment, rejection, losing control, and abuse. Thankfully, those fears have no place in an intimate relationship with God. You are so valued by Him and He is invested in you! You are not just here to fill space. He created you with incredible purpose and He desires for you to reach your fullest potential for His glory.
Because of this, God will never abandon you. He promises to never leave you nor forsake you. He won’t ever reject you because He loves you unconditionally. His love never changes, no matter what you do or don’t do. And when you surrender your life to Him, you are allowing Him to take control because you have put your trust in Him. He will never abuse that control and gives you complete freedom to make your own decisions. When you are intimate with Him, He will guide you to make decisions that honor Him because He knows what is the very best for you.
Intimacy with God starts with admitting you are a sinner in need of a Savior and repenting of your sin. Sin is the barrier that separates us from feeling connected to Him. When we turn from our sin, He makes us pure and righteous in His sight and that barrier is taken away.
If we confess our sins, He is faithful and just to forgive us our sins and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness. 1 John 1:9
The moment you believe in your heart that Jesus died for you and rose again so you can be forgiven of your sin and have eternal life, you will be saved. And that is the moment your intimate relationship with God begins.
For God so loved the world that He gave His only begotten Son, that whoever believes in Him should not perish but have everlasting life. John 3:16
Grow in your intimacy with God like you would with a close friend whom you know you can trust. Spend time in His presence. Share your heart with Him. Learn about His character through the pages of His love letter to you. Get to know the One who knows you at the deepest level and loves you anyway. It’s the way you were designed to be known. Like dark chocolate, intimacy with God is a sweet treat for the heart.
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