Voices of Recovery today says, “When the compulsion returns, I know from experience that it will pass if I do not ‘feed’ it… I am willing to wait out the discomfort, knowing it will pass, that I will have the joy of being free again and that I have been truly loving to myself.” The words the VOR contributor uses give me a hint about why the step-work is so vital to this process of recovery.  “Being free” and “truly loving myself” were phrases that once scared me.  I didn’t know what to do once freed, and I didn’t believe I was truly worth loving.  It wasn’t until I broke down my powerlessness, acknowledged God’s power and in proper humility reached out for His design in my life that I began to find the ability to be willing, or to wait out the discomfort, or to trust Him to get me past each craving.  God, I am grateful to You for orchestrating my circumstances and shaping my life – its struggles and victories – to draw me to this 12-Step dance of intimacy with You.

Proverbs 18:15 says, “The heart of the discerning acquires knowledge; the ears of the wise seek it out.”  I have been lazy regarding my search for knowledge.  I am halfway through about five books that remain unfinished; I have only half-heartedly followed the “Balanced” financial study going on at my church; and I repeatedly find excuses (usually financial) for not returning to school.  I need to move toward education in order to prepare me for the next chapter of my life.  I believe I have direction for it, now it is time to get started.

1 Samuel 14 is so eventful I had to re-read it today to follow it all.  (Besides, I was exceedingly sleepy when I read it yesterday.)  Saul’s son, Jonathan, stepped out in faith by himself (with his armor-bearer) to show the Lord was able to rescue Israel.  In verse 6 he says, “Nothing can hinder the LORD from saving, whether by many or by few.”  God proved faithful and gave Jonathan the sign he was looking for.  Jonathan and his armor-bearer killed twenty men in one attack.  A panic struck the Philistines, and God caused them to turn on themselves, and Saul’s army took full military advantage.

The second noteworthy event of this chapter comes when Jonathan unknowingly violated a fast decreed by his father the king.  The fast was such a hardship on the army that when they were free to eat, they defiled themselves with the blood of the animals on which they binged.  The take-away for me here relates to the program acronym H.A.L.T.  I must avoid becoming too Hungry, Angry, Lonely or Tired in order to maintain my sanity.  If the grouch and the brainstorm are the dubious luxury of normal men, how much more is the prolonged fast?  My spiritual act of abstinence is a spiritual fast between every meal.

Saul sought God’s advice, but didn’t get anything but silence.  In an apparent grouchy brainstorm, Saul decreed that whoever had sinned to cause this silence must die.  An investigative lottery proved that the silence was due to Jonathan’s violation of the fast.  Saul’s pride and his oath compelled him to kill is son so much that it took the intervention of his fellows to talk him out of it.  Sounds familiar!

It is plain that a life which includes deep resentment leads only to futility and unhappiness. To the precise extent that we permit these, do we squander the hours that might have been worthwhile. But with the alcoholic, whose hope is the maintenance and growth of a spiritual experience, this business of resentment is infinitely grave. We found that it is fatal. For when harboring such feelings we shut ourselves off from the sunlight of the Spirit. The insanity of alcohol returns and we drink again. And with us, to drink is to die.

  If we were to live, we had to be free of anger. The grouch and the brainstorm were not for us. They may be the dubious luxury of normal men, but for alcoholics these things are poison.”  (Alcoholics Anonymous, page 66)