Today:

I am a recovering compulsive overeater, abstinent by the grace of God one more day at a time.

I got very busy yesterday, and thought I might put the finishing touches on yesterday’s post during a break at work, but none came.  So it was sans frills and considerably later than normal.  I hope it was still even a portion of the blessing to those who read it as it was to the one who wrote it.

From today’s entry in Voices of Recovery:

The quote cited was, “SACRED AWE!” and since I am so compulsive, I went back to the For Today entry from which it came.  The whole quote reads as follows:

“The highest point a man can attain is not Knowledge, or Virtue, or Goodness, or Victory, but something even greater, more heroic and more despairing: Sacred Awe!”  Nikos Kazantzakis  – For Today, p. 342

The phrase “sacred awe” is the answer to a question posed of me some time ago by a dear friend who was struggling with the concept of fearing God.  We, who are so crippled by our fears as to allow them to develop into compulsive disorders, are likely to group all fears together as bad, and so begin to suffer from overcorrection.  “Sacred” contains a reference to God, and implies a religious holiness.  “Awe” is a sense of overwhelming wonder or fearful respect.  In my opinion, the VOR contributor slipped off the true meaning of the phrase, and interpreted “sacred” as its less religious cousin “reverent.”  One can revere a baseball hero, but to call one sacred would be sacrilegious if not idolatrous.  Nikos Kazantzakis’ quote looks to me a lot like King Solomon’s conclusions I read a few days ago, that man can do nothing better than to fear and obey God.  Ecclesiastes 12:13b, “Fear God and keep his commandments, for this is the whole duty of man.”  Sure obedience has merit, but it is empty if unaccompanied by the reverent wonder of relationship with God.  That is the purpose both Solomon and Kazantzakis appeared to understand, based on these brief quotes.

Awesome Creator, I tremble in celebration that You have the power to crush me, and relish in the trust that You love me instead.

From Proverbs 13:

16 Every prudent man acts out of knowledge,
but a fool exposes his folly.”

If knowledge directs the wise, or “prudent,” than what directs the fool who exposes his folly?  His foolish whims!  This is a great little riddle to remind me that my selfish desire wars against my spirit.  I cannot serve them both, but whichever I neglect dies and yields to the other.  I want the spiritual vitality that comes from linking my spirit to God’s, and that is just not possible when I am preoccupied with getting my own way.  It is amazing to me to see how so much of God’s Word seems to have been pointing me to this basic truth all along, and I have missed it.  Feel like and want to must die repeatedly!

From my reading through the Bible, currently in Isaiah 1:

I love reading the prophecies of Isaiah!  I’m looking forward to the next few weeks’ readings.

The first part of Chapter 1 reminds me of when my son was nearing the age of eighteen, and rebellion and punishment were such routine for him that neither had any meaning, and we lost the joy of our relationship.  So it had become between Israel and God.  Exasperated with their rebellion and the punishment that had lost its disciplining effect, God, through Isaiah vented His frustration.

4b They have forsaken the Lord;

they have spurned the Holy One of Israel
and turned their backs on him.

Why should you be beaten anymore?
Why do you persist in rebellion?”

Even the prescribed ceremonies and sacrifices had become a sickening annoyance to God.  And the empty religion of them was cursed by the Holy One who prescribed them.  This assessment might be applied to the practices of many “religious” institutions today.  Empty practices do not impress the Almighty.  He clearly desires something more intimate.

14 Your New Moon festivals and your appointed feasts
my soul hates.
They have become a burden to me;
I am weary of bearing them.
15 When you spread out your hands in prayer,
I will hide my eyes from you”

The message of God, through Isaiah, was not without hope.  The God who was repulsed by man’s empty gestures has not left us with no promise of recoupling.

“Though your sins are like scarlet,
they shall be as white as snow;
though they are red as crimson,
they shall be like wool.
19 If you are willing and obedient,
you will eat the best from the land;
20 but if you resist and rebel,
you will be devoured by the sword.”

This beautiful promise, set on the hinges of obedience, alludes to the white garments of the saints referenced in yesterday’s devotion, the blood sacrifice it would take to wash them clean, and a poetic and prophetic reference to the Word of God, which is depicted in Revelation as a sword coming out of the mouth of the Redeemer. (References: Revelation 1:16, 2:16, 19:15, 19:21)

From the “Big Book” of Alcoholics Anonymous, page 13:

“My friend promised when these things were done I would enter upon a new relationship with my Creator; that I would have the elements of a way of living which answered all my problems.”

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