I am a gratefully recovering compulsive overeater, abstinent by the grace of God one more* day at a time. †
I heard it said yesterday that “a little faith will save you; but faith that is little will not lead to abundant life.” I was reminded that there is no amount of faith, no closeness of relationship with God that is enough as long as I remain in this tent of flesh on this rock of earth. To be satisfied with my current spiritual state is to begin to lose it. I need to be continually reaching for more, always striving for that nearer touch of God, honing out more of my selfishness and stretching my giving muscles to Him and those around me. In his Morning and Evening devotion for today, Charles Spurgeon wrote,
“There are the common frames and feelings of repentance, and faith, and joy, and hope, which are enjoyed by the entire family; but there is an upper realm of rapture, of communion, and conscious union with Christ, which is far from being the common dwelling-place of believers.” (http://www.biblegateway.com/devotionals/morning-and-evening/2013/09/09)
I want to press in for the uncommon realm, the specially chosen relationship, the rapturous union with Christ. For that, Spurgeon says, the difference is “prevailing prayer.”
From today’s entry in Voices of Recovery:
“There will be times when we’re faced with an important decision and want to know our Higher Power’s will. Our sponsor or OA friend might suggest that we pray about it, asking God to increase our desire to take the action if we are supposed to take it, or decrease our desire if we’re not supposed to take it.” — The Twelve Steps and Twelve Traditions of Overeaters Anonymous, p. 97
This works! I have experienced it on numerous occasions. Sometimes, the desired thing becomes so repulsive that I can no longer even tolerate it. Other times, what had been a curious fancy turned into a desperate passion and, in the case of my professional development, even a calling. I might also say that I have used the shorter version of this, what I call the “make it obvious” prayer. I confess that, as a human, I don’t always perceive the subtle messages, and when I ask Him to, He demonstrates in some way that is so ridiculously obvious that one could not dismiss it as mere coincidence or happenstance. It’s so miraculous when He does it that I am ashamed I don’t consult Him more.
Papa, thank You for being ready to answer me when I come to You, and for being patient with me when I don’t. Help me to turn to You habitually, constantly; to remain connected to You in continuous prayer. Help me not to be conformed to the pattern of this world, but to be transformed by the constant renewal of my mind, so I can test and approve what Your will is – Your good, pleasing and perfect will. (Romans 12:2)
From my reading through the Bible, currently in Revelation 7, NIV:
9 After this I looked, and there before me was a great multitude that no one could count, from every nation, tribe, people and language, standing before the throne and before the Lamb. They were wearing white robes and were holding palm branches in their hands. 10 And they cried out in a loud voice:
“Salvation belongs to our God,
who sits on the throne,
and to the Lamb.”
What I noticed is the characteristics of the crowd: they are wearing white robes, holding palm branches, and cry out praise for the salvation which belongs to God and the Lamb. These white robes, it is explained in verse 14, are worn by those “who have come out of the great tribulation; they have washed their robes and made them white in the blood of the Lamb.” Remember what Jesus said to the church in Sardis in Revelation 3:4-5, “Yet you have a few people in Sardis who have not soiled their clothes. They will walk with me, dressed in white, for they are worthy. The one who is victorious will, like them, be dressed in white.” The prophet Isaiah wrote down the words of God, “Though your sins are like scarlet, they shall be as white as snow; though they are red as crimson, they shall be like wool.” There is a washing, even of our sin stains, that brings us into the uniform of the heavenlies – pure, dazzling white, unlike any human bleaching could accomplish (Matthew 17:2, Mark 9:3, Revelation 3:18).
Some get distracted by the term “tribulation” arguing this way or that about whether there will be a period of tribulation or not, and whether these emerged from the tribulation or escaped it by rapture. There is a valid argument for the concept that Earth itself is “the great tribulation” and that the physical world is the proving grounds in which we spiritual beings have the opportunity to choose, and equip ourselves for, our eternal condition. Regardless, it is these who are washed in the Lamb’s blood who are present with Him, and that is where I want to be!
Second, they are waving palm branches. These are those for whom raising of the hands was insufficient. The palm has been synonymous with praise, and links the two events of Jesus’ entry as a peaceful ambassador to Jerusalem, and as a conquering king on the Day of the Lord.
With these palms in hand, they cried out praise to God and the Lamb in a loud voice. The plural “they” cried out an “a” singular voice, “Salvation belongs to God…and to the Lamb.” Here is hidden the spiritual truth that is key to being among this group. There is no soloist crying out, “I did it my way!” No background chorus chanting, “My works got me in the gate. Thank God I had perfect attendance at Sunday School.” The ones who cried, “Lord, Lord, did we not prophesy in your name and in your name drive out demons and in your name perform many miracles?” (Matthew 7:22) are not in this group; only the ones who cry out, “Salvation belongs to God and His Lamb” (paraphrase mine). It’s not about me! It’s about whose I am! I’m His and He is mine and that relationship alone will bring me to His embrace.
From The “Big Book” of Alcoholics Anonymous, “Doctor Bob’s Nightmare”:
But if you really and truly want to quit drinking liquor‡ for good and all, and sincerely feel that you must have some help, we know that we have an answer for you. It never fails if you go about it with one half the zeal you have been in the habit of showing when getting another drink.
Your Heavenly Father will never let you down!
*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.
‡ From “Our Invitation to You” out of Overeater’s Anonymous: “The OA recovery program is patterned after that of Alcoholics Anonymous. We use AA’s Twelve Steps and Twelve Traditions, changing only the words ‘alcohol’ and ‘alcoholic’ to ‘food’ and ‘compulsive overeater.’”