I am a gratefully recovering compulsive overeater, abstinent by the grace of God one more* day at a time. †
I had one of those vivid dreams last night, the kind that I remember was very important but the details of which have vanished. These three phrases remained as the fog lifted: “Find them. Love them. Save them.” There were two sub-points, one to each of the first: In order to find them I must search them out; and in order to love them I must serve them. Saving them was almost a back-burner result more than the primary mission, as if it is pointless to attempt the third if I haven’t done the first two. I was convicted and encouraged at the same time. In Sunday School class this morning, the point was made that, no matter how proficient a gardener one becomes, they are powerless to make anything grow. That is still up to God. What we can do is cultivate soil, plant seed, weed the garden, fend off birds, irrigate if necessary, and patiently wait on God for the results. I think the points of the dream go hand in hand with this thought. Who am I to save someone’s soul? I can’t even save myself! But I can find the dead and dying souls and love them, ministering to them as a brother and co-heir of Heaven, and as I treat them so, with the intervention of God, they may become!
“Indecision is like the stepchild; if he doesn’t wash his hands, he is called ‘dirty,’ if he does, he is wasting the water.” — Madagascan proverb as quoted in For Today, p. 247
In my condescending, critical days, I was the stepfather in this proverb, passing judgment on everyone who went against my way. The problem was my way was unpredictable, changing like the wind, first this way then that. Unlike the Madagascan version of the villain, I did not give preferential favor to my natural children. They were, instead, the secondary victims of my wrath, only narrowly preceded by my wife. The only thing worse than being addicted to self-will is to have no defined will at all and yet still hungrily clamber for it as though it were air, water, or some life-sustaining element.
Dear Father, today, rescue me from the bondage of self that I may better do Your will. Keep me from inflicting my will on others.
17 Whoever is kind to the poor lends to the Lord,
and he will reward them for what they have done.
I was reading World Vision Magazine the last couple days, and this morning I read an excerpt from Richard Stearns’ new book Unfinished that I feel bears sharing:
“The meaning, purpose, and significance of our lives are found only by aligning our lives with God’s purposes, in lives committed to following Jesus Christ.”
“Our Christian faith is not just a way to find forgiveness for sin in order to enter eternal life, yet it is that. It is not just a system of right beliefs about ultimate truth and the order of things, though it is that. Nor is it just a way to find God’s comfort in times of trouble or a helpful code of conduct for how to live a good and productive life, though it is those things too. Fundamentally, the Christian faith is a call to leave everything else behind, to follow our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ and to join in the great mission of Christ in our world. It is a call to forsake all else and follow him. Only then will we become completed people—people living according to God’s deepest purpose for our lives.”
The rewards of working toward God’s purposes far outweigh any sacrifices I might make. I need to be about my Father’s business with more than just my spare time and my leftover resources!
From my reading through the Bible, currently in 1 Corinthians 13, NIV:
3 If I give all I possess to the poor and give over my body to hardship that I may boast, but do not have love, I gain nothing.
And here is the middle part of my dream! The only benefit to doing the good deeds for the sake of the good deeds themselves is only in the pride of the moment. If the angry and hateful heart lies behind the outstretched arms, all that remains is empty hands. Finding the lost and hurting does no good if I don’t love them once I get there, and loving them from my couch does the hungry and helpless precious little good either. So going must be part of the action, serving them in love is apex point of the mission, and saving souls will result when those who have been loved decide the source of that love is worth finding for themselves.
Papa God, help me to find them, love them, and save them!
The alcoholic‡ is like a tornado roaring his way through the lives of others. Hearts are broken. Sweet relationships are dead. Affections have been uprooted. Selfish and inconsiderate habits have kept he home in turmoil. We feel a man is unthinking when he says that sobriety is enough.
*Abstinence began for me on May 11th, 2010.
† For the sake of accountability, the details of my eating are posted in my online food log.
‡ From “Our Invitation to You” out of Overeater’s Anonymous: “The OA recovery program is patterned after that of Alcoholics Anonymous. We use AA’s Twelve Steps and Twelve Traditions, changing only the words ‘alcohol’ and ‘alcoholic’ to ‘food’ and ‘compulsive overeater.’”