Abstinent Today:

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

Well, I made it through the feasting holiday of Thanksgiving without feasting.  I packed my typical lunch into a gathering of friends, who were only too willing to let me pass on the holiday indulgences, since that meant there was more for them.  It was kind of sad to watch the salad on the table get so neglected in preference for so many holiday delicacies.  Still, it served to remind me that not everyone is a compulsive eater, and my problem is my problem, not theirs.  When I returned home I celebrated the dawning of the Advent season by breaking out my favorite Christmas movie: Scrooge.  I love that story of recovery, but especially this moment of awakening.  The words of his morning-after song, “Begin Again” are especially touching to me since I pray a similar prayer daily.

 

 

I’ll Begin Again, performed by Albert Finney

 

Lyrics:

I’ll begin again
I will build my life
I will live to know
I fulfilled my life
I’ll begin today
Throw away the past
And the future I build
Will be something that will last
I will take the time
That I have left to live
And I’ll give it all
That I have left to give
I will live my days
For my fellow men
And I’ll live in praise
Of that moment when
I was able to begin again

I’ll begin again
I will change my fate
I will show the world
That it is not too late
I will never stop
While I still have time
‘Till I stand at the top
Of the mountain I must climb
I will start anew
I will make amends
And I will make quite certain
That the story ends
On a note of hope
On a strong amen
And I’ll thank the world
And remember when
I was able to begin again
I’ll begin again!

 

 

From today’s entry in Voices of Recovery:

“Service is its own reward.” — The Twelve Steps and Twelve Traditions of Overeaters Anonymous, p. 175

It sounds silly, but doing something gives you something to do.  There is purpose in occupation.  Without it, no wonder we feel useless and discontent!  We were made for service.  The Big Book puts it: “Our real purpose is to fit ourselves to be of maximum service to God and the people about us.”  (page 77)  The Bigger Book says, “For we are God’s workmanship, created in Christ Jesus to do good works, which God prepared in advance for us to do.” (Ephesians 2:10)

 

 

From Proverbs 23 (NKJV):

1 When you sit down to eat with a ruler,
Consider carefully what is before you;
And put a knife to your throat
If you are a man given to appetite.
Do not desire his delicacies,
For they are deceptive food.”

I read an excellent article on this verse, by a pastor named Gillis Triplett, of whom I had never heard until this morning.  In the article, Is Your Belly Your God? he explained the puzzling phrase, “Put a knife to your throat,” in a way I had not considered.

Here is an excerpt of the article, which I recommend in its entirety:

Here are five critical points you must understand about deceptive foods. (1) Deceptive foods are designed to make you believe they are healthy when they are not. (2) Deceptive foods are promoted to trick you into ignoring the fact that they are toxic (3) The makers of deceptive foods spew out false nutritional claims, opinions and research distributed by greed driven food executives. (4) God gives us a stern warning not to consume their deceptive foods in any shape, form, or fashion. His warning presupposes a very critical point – we must be able to identify deceptive foods. If it takes a biochemist, a toxicologist, or a food scientist to identify deceptive foods, the average person is in big trouble.  Which means, detecting deceptive foods has got to be a process anyone can perform. (5) He calls deceptive foods – delicacies. These foods will melt in your mouth! Their texture is just right and their flavor is simply irresistible. But He goes on to say in verse 8 of that same chapter, “You will vomit up the little you have eaten…” In other words, it doesn’t take the consumption of major amounts of deceptive foods to make you sick.

 

 

 

From my reading through the Bible,” currently in Hosea 11, 12, and 13:

God lamented, as a father over a defiant son, the fickleness of Israel, especially the idolatry of Ephraim (one of the twelve Patriarchs, a son of Jacob/Israel), who worshipped the Baals.  He speaks of nation and tribe just as an individual beloved son.

11:It was I who taught Ephraim to walk,
taking them by the arms;
but they did not realize
it was I who healed them.
I led them with cords of human kindness,
with ties of love;
I lifted the yoke from their neck
and bent down to feed them.”

10 They will follow the Lord;
he will roar like a lion.
When he roars,
his children will come trembling from the west.”

13:But I am the Lord your God,
who brought you out of[b] Egypt.
You shall acknowledge no God but me,
no Savior except me.
I cared for you in the desert,
in the land of burning heat.
When I fed them, they were satisfied;
when they were satisfied, they became proud;
then they forgot me.
So I will come upon them like a lion…”

I remember a record called “The Roar of Love” by the 2nd Chapter of Acts, a Christian Contemporary band I listened to back in my teens.  The whole record was based on the Chronicles of Narnia by C.S. Lewis, who built his representation of Christ in the character of Aslan, a great and powerful, but compassionate lion.  As I read these chapters, I felt the pain of a loving parent, who is forced to watch his children stray and return, stray and return.  His compassion makes Him long for the return, and His anger over their departure from His providence makes Him roar.  It is not a fierce, destructive, horrifying roar, but it is a loving, stern, and appropriately terrifying call for the children of the Lion to return – a “roar of love.”

As I read these texts, I noticed the underlying complaint seemed to be ingratitude.  He, like many other parents I have heard, seems to say, “Though I cared for them, they rejected me.”  Emerging from a holiday of Thanksgiving, I am convicted to live according to my gratitude to God, not just sometimes, but always.  I wish to abstain from my departures from His will, from rebellion of any kind.  Just as I refrain from eating between meals, I want to refrain from wandering off between strides of union with God, and make my entire life a diligent pilgrimage.  I want to walk forever with God rather than hear His roar and rush trembling home.

 

 

 

From the “Big Book” of Alcoholics Anonymous, “My Wife and I”:

“It is an easy matter to repeat and orally affirm a faith. Here were these men who visited me and they, like myself, had tried everything else and although it was plain to be seen none of them were perfect, they were living proof that the sincere attempt to follow the cardinal teaching of Jesus Christ was keeping them sober. If it could do that for others, I was resolved to try it, believing it could do something for me also.”

“It was almost a year when I began to get a little careless. One day I hoisted a few drinks, arriving home far from sober. My wife and I talked it over, both knowing it had happened because I had stopped following the plan. I acknowledge my fault to God and asked His help to keep to the course I had to follow.”

 

 

 

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 shed light on the old truths from a different angle and exercise my willingness with a little change, I switched from using the New International Version (NIV or “NIV1984”) to the New King James Version (NKJV) just for this month’s reading of Proverbs.  

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