Abstinent Today:

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

While on my way to work yesterday, I heard a Bible verse on the radio that followed well my commitment of Colossians 3:12, to clothe myself in caring in keeping with my identity as God’s selected child.  It was 1 Peter 2:11:

“Dear friends, I urge you, as aliens and strangers in the world, to abstain from sinful desires, which war against your soul.”

The word “abstain” here has been phrased by other Bible translations as “keep away from,” “refrain,” or “depart from.”  We recovering compulsive overeaters have our own definition of abstinence, and it is clear that in order to live sane lives, it is critical that this abstinence not be broken, bent or twisted.  Abstain means an unyielding avoidance.   The phrase “sinful desires” has likewise been termed alternately “worldly (or carnal) desires,” “passions of the flesh,” “fleshly lusts.”  One thing is clear: the basic operating system of a human body is at war with a healthy soul.  I have to deny the body to ignite the spirit that satisfies the soul.

I am grateful for the disorder in my life that made this painfully obvious enough for me to finally get it.

 

 

From today’s entry in Voices of Recovery:

“Rather, we came to understand that the basis for stopping our compulsive eating behaviors—and staying stopped—is personal inner change.” — A Plan of Eating, p. 1

This inner change is a result of turning over the pilot controls of the body, of relieving natural self of the opportunity to run riot, and delivering absolute authority to the influence of God’s Holy Spirit in me.  This was something that could not be accomplished by mere ceremony or empty religious affirmation.  I have demonstrated for years that inadequacy!   Real, vital change requires a daily offering, a sacrifice of will and an invitation of the Spirit.  It is a vibrant exchange founded in relationship with the Creator through Jesus Christ.

Today’s devotion from Our Daily Bread used the life of Apollos as described in Acts 18:24-26 as an example of this. Apollos went about teaching and preaching with passion, but he only knew about John’s baptism of repentance.  All he knew was to tell people to be good.  He knew nothing of the power available to do so, made possible by the work of the Holy Spirit, until it was explained to him by Priscilla and Aquilla, a loving couple, friends of the Apostle Paul.   Knowing what to turn from does little good without knowing Who to turn to!

Our tight-fisted insistence that we know all we need to know keeps us from growing where we need to grow.  If we don’t become flexible, we will wither and die like plant roots that reached rock and refused to turn.  Apollos was teachable, and his willingness to change turned him into a powerful preacher and evangelist.  If I will demonstrate that flexibility, perhaps I too will be made useful in the Master’s hand.

It is worth noting that a smith uses fire and repeated beating to make tools into the desired shape when they are not pliable.

 

 

From Proverbs 24 (NLT):

10 If you fail under pressure,
your strength is too small.”

In recovery circles, we tend to refer to the God of our limited understanding as our “Higher Power.”  It is the commonest denominator of all our limited understandings.  The one thing we agree on concerning God is that He is more powerful than we.  When a failure comes, it is easy to see that the fallen was relying, at the time, on a power other than the Highest Power – God.  This verse reminds me of the basic elements of recovery, like the A-B-Cs of Kindergarten, but it is amazing how many times we self-professed expert scholars keep tripping on this little, elementary postulate.

 

 

 

From my reading through the Bible,” currently in Ezekiel 26, 27, and 28:

Ezekiel 26 is a prophecy against Tyre, one of the great sea-trading cities of ancient times.  It was to be destroyed and washed over by the sea in a manner that brought to mind the tales of Atlantis as I read it.  Chapter 27 is a lament for Tyre, and 28 a prophecy concerning its king.

27: 33 When your merchandise went out on the seas,
you satisfied many nations;
with your great wealth and your wares
you enriched the kings of the earth.
34 Now you are shattered by the sea
in the depths of the waters;
your wares and all your company
have gone down with you.”

The enemies of God, though richly adorned with comforts, pleasures, and reputation, are ultimately overwhelmed by the very object of their pride.  This was the truth with Tyre, and it is the truth of all mankind.  In Chapter 28, God chastised the king of Tyre, and the spirit within him which He referred to in terms of Satan, the cast-down “guardian cherub.” (Revelation 12:9)  This reminded me that the pride that was the sin of Satan is the same sin that mankind continually perpetrates, that still casts him at odds with the Creator of the universe.

17 Your heart became proud
on account of your beauty,
and you corrupted your wisdom
because of your splendor.
So I threw you to the earth;
I made a spectacle of you before kings.
18 By your many sins and dishonest trade
you have desecrated your sanctuaries.
So I made a fire come out from you,
and it consumed you…”

To be consumed by the lusts of our nature is the fault and fate of man without divine intervention.  Thanks be to God for the means of deliverance, the gift of His Son who died to bring us Life! (John 10:10, 3:16-17)

 

 

 

From Overeaters Anonymous (Second Edition), chapter 4, “Abstinence, Not Perfection”:

“It was only after getting abstinent that I began to see how badly I’d behaved. I was overwhelmed, but I did what my sponsor suggested: I worked the Steps. He told me that the word ‘amends’ in the Eighth and Ninth Steps was the same word as an ‘amendment’ to the Constitution. It meant a change, not just an apology. So I changed the way I treated my wife, my children, and all those in my life. I approached them for my Ninth Step to tell them that they deserved better than I had given, and that the old ways were no longer acceptable to me. Things steadily changed.”

 

 

Footnotes:

*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.

In order to get a fresh perspective, I switched from using the New International Version (NIV or “NIV1984”) to a version I have not used before, the New Living Translation (NLT), just for this month’s reading of Proverbs.  I normally avoid switching, because it confuses my attempts at memorization, but I thought it might shed light on the old truths from a different angle and exercise my willingness with a little change.

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