Abstinent Today:

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

My replacement computer arrived yesterday and I have just got it configured enough to write this on it. It is a blessing to receive something new, even while I regret the loss of what had become so comfortable.

From today’s entry in Voices of Recovery:

“Service in OA has been a surprisingly powerful factor in our recovery.” — The Twelve Steps and Twelve Traditions of Overeaters Anonymous, p. 101

They say, “Service is slimming.” I don’t know if it is or not, but I know there have been times when I needed any reason at all to remain abstinent, and one of the helpful ones has been the knowledge that I hold a service position with an abstinence requirement, which I would have to give up if I were to relapse. I have witnessed the confession of a person in that situation, and the memory of her tears has been an effective deterrent to a binge. The other thing I know that service does is get me out of my selfishness. Sometimes, when I have been at my worst, I have been interrupted by an opportunity or obligation to do service, and it has always turned out to be just the line I have needed to pull me out of the hole I had begun to dig.

From Proverbs 30:

12 [There are] those who are pure in their own eyes

and yet are not cleansed of their filth

This verse struck me today, because of a conviction that I am still plagued by my sinful flesh. The fact that it is Black Saturday (the day we remember Christ’s burial) reminds me of the whitewashed tombs that Jesus criticized the Pharisees of being. They clean and adorn the outside, but inside they are full of corruption and death (Matthew 23:27). I remember that Saint Paul had the same problem. He observed, “So I find this law at work: Although I want to do good, evil is right there with me.” (Romans 7:21)

This is a reminder that spiritual fitness is a never-ending battle, that is lost as soon as I begin to feel I’ve won. When the enemy succeeds in distracting me from my purpose of lovingly serving others, I begin to lose my fitness for that duty. Each day and each moment, I need to remain constantly in a state of prayerful devotion to God and to serving His children. Only then can I be free of the selfish voice inside my flesh crying out for attention, begging to be indulged.

From my reading through the Bible, currently in Acts 6 and 7:

The first dispute of the Christian Church was over food, and so ministers (Gr: diakonos; or deacons) were appointed to serve while the apostles devoted themselves to the more spiritual work (Acts 6:4). The first chosen, Stephen, was said to be full of the Holy Spirit and wisdom, and so, made himself a target of the enemy, who manufactured a case against him out of lies (Acts 6:13).

In Acts 7, Stephen spoke by the same Holy Spirit, recalling the history of Israel from Abraham to Moses, the Exodus from Egypt and the Deliverance to the Promised Land, the Tabernacle and the Temple built by Solomon. He used this celebrated history to point out that rebellion is part of them, and that to reject the Spirit was the nature of their flesh. This sermon got him martyred by stoning as his audience, the Jewish legal council (Sanhedrin), became enraged at his accusations that they had received the Law but never lived it.

59 While they were stoning him, Stephen prayed, “Lord Jesus, receive my spirit.” 60 Then he fell on his knees and cried out, “Lord, do not hold this sin against them.” When he had said this, he fell asleep. (Acts 7:59-60)

I have often wondered whether I could die like Stephen, blessing those at whose hands I was graduating to glory, rather than fighting back and perhaps sealing their eternal fate.  I am inspired by this man, who is credited as being the first Christian martyr, after the example of Jesus.

From the “Big Book” of Alcoholics Anonymous, “The Man Who Mastered Fear”:

The example which they and Bill W., whose visits to Akron were fairly frequent, set me of service to their fellow men imbued me with a great desire to emulate them. Sometimes during that year I rebelled inwardly at what seemed like lost time, and at having to be a burden to these good people whose means were limited. Long before I had any real opportunity to give, I had to learn the equally important lesson of receiving graciously.

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.

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