1968 classic carYesterday I had a conversation with a woman who asked about how I maintained what she called “self-control” and how I managed to be so “self-disciplined” as to stick with my program and lose so much weight.  We both discussed how utterly unworthy we each felt at times and had given up on so many “weight-loss attempts” before.  I did not go into the details of the Alcoholics Anonymous “Big Book” which clearly defines us as “undisciplined – so we let God discipline us,” (p. 88) or The Twelve Steps and Twelve Traditions of Overeaters Anonymous, which is equally as clear when it says, “compulsive eating is an illness that cannot be controlled by willpower,” (p. 1) and, “no amount of self-control or weight loss could cure us” (p. 3).  I explained it this way, and it was called to mind again this morning:

“I look at it as if I was borrowing God’s classic 1968 automobile. I wouldn’t neglect it like I have my body. I would clean it and service it and get proper maintenance on it, not because of how valuable it was to ME, but because it has value to HIM, the owner. Regardless of how I feel about myself, I will take care of God’s creation as though He wants it back.”

1968 classic shirtI am well aware that I am God’s temple, but it never occurred to me, until recovery, that makes me the temple’s priest, responsible for its maintenance.  Were I truly a minister of such a valuable resource as God’s car or house, I certainly wouldn’t mistreat such a treasure, but I would be downright obsessive about its complete care, maintenance, and cleanliness.  Why is it so different when it comes to something He esteems far more than brick, mortar, or machine?

The fact is that the God and Creator of the entire universe found me worth dying for, and that should be articulation enough of His esteem for me to trump whatever lack of “self-esteem” I have.  Step Three was a decision to turn my will and my life, including my lack of self-interest or esteem, over to Him, and to assume His will for my life, His esteem for me, His plan, His direction as my aim.

 

This ties in well with the NT in a Year reading for today:

23 But he turned and said to Peter, “Get behind me, Satan! You are a stumbling block to me; for you are setting your mind not on divine things but on human things.”

24 Then Jesus told his disciples, “If any want to become my followers, let them deny themselves and take up their cross and follow me. 25 For those who want to save their life will lose it, and those who lose their life for my sake will find it.  (Matthew 16:23-25, NRSV)

We, including Simon Peter just after his installation as Rock of the Church, have a tendency to perceive, satisfy, and even vehemently protect the physical rather than sense our spiritual reality.  Notice that, although the text says Jesus was talking to Peter, He wasn’t actually addressing Peter in the first exclamation, but Satan.  He wasn’t calling Peter Satan; He was speaking to the Satan that was using Peter at that moment, the devils that blinded Peter from seeing what the Lord was unveiling to His companions and deafened Him from accepting the plans that had been laid out since before the foundations of the world.  Then, Jesus made two statements that are, unfortunately, separated in most translations by a topical heading, but which I believe are very much connected.

The setting of one’s mind on human things is the failure, disease, and conundrum of the flesh.  We live in bodies of meat, and we see with eyes of meat, but we seek spiritual truth through these leather sacs in which we reside.  Christ’s instruction that followed goes so closely in hand, it is hard to imagine anyone trying to separate it from the previous: we are to die to self, severely and excruciatingly* deny the flesh, give up the human things and instead pursue, perceive and perform the things of the Spirit.  In sacrificing the one we will find the other.  Which are you choosing to sacrifice?

Dear Father, today, my prayer is similar to that of many days past.  Make my eyes those that see Your truth, and ears that hear Your voice.  Keep me from the distraction of Earth.  Blind me to its deceptions and deafen me to its alluring call.  Sprinkle me with Your blood that washes the tainted meat out of which this vehicle is made and make my spirit one with You, in the name of Jesus Christ.  I offer You all I am, feel, perceive, wish, think, and will become.  Do as You wish and, I pray, make me a part of Your plan and purpose.  Your will be done!

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