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Saturday, June 06, 2009

CR Principle 5

Principle 5 says I voluntarily submit to any and all changes God wants to make in my life and humbly ask Him to remove my character defects. (Steps 6 and 7)

“Happy are those whose greatest desire is to do what God requires.” Matthew 5:6

You know, every one of these principles of Celebrate Recovery can be perplexing. Each tends to involve more than the words would indicate at first glance. When I first read this principle, I was ready to agree to the voluntary part. I was also ready to humbly ask God to remove my character defects. (The list of those had grown immensely through my inventory process!) But all the changes God wants to make in my life? What exactly are those changes? How many of us really know?

I meet people who complain that they have difficulty discerning God’s will for their life. “I just want to know God’s will for my life.” I used to be one of those people. I wanted a burning bush to speak, beside a parted sea, with a star shining in the east --- with my name on it. I wanted God to lay out a plan for my life. And I wanted it to be a good plan that I would be pleased with.

Jeremiah 29:11 says that God has a plan for me. It is a plan to prosper me and give me hope and a future. That sounds pretty good. But it turns out that God’s plan for me and most everyone else doesn’t exactly look like we expect it to.

I’ve made a habit of reading my Bible daily. God has been happy to reveal His will for my life. I think He’s revealed it to you too. The thing is, we have to be looking and listening for it. Jesus said, more than once, that those who have ears should listen. I think He understood our human nature … which is to overlook the details and keep searching for the dramatic climax in life.

What were the changes God wanted to make in my life? Well there were many. As I began to voluntarily submit, I found that God wanted me to:

· Love my wife unconditionally and sacrificially, setting aside my rights in this marriage.
· Love my children with grace and forgiveness, setting aside indignation and frustration.
· Be reconciled in all my relationships, even if it takes being right.
· Submit to my pastor and the other spiritual and even secular leaders God has placed in my life.
· View my money as His money and make financial decisions accordingly.
· Reconcile my anger with righteousness and godliness, and learn what it really means to get angry without sinning (as Jesus did).
· Confess my sins, all of them, in explicit detail, to someone who is trustworthy, on a regular basis.
· Stop using fear as criteria for decision making.

I think you get the picture. The list of things that comprise God’s will for my life continues to unfold.

I have one other aspect of Principle 5 to tell you about. All of my life I struggled with obesity. I used to worry about being overweight. Finally God showed me that He was not at all concerned about my weight. Rather God was concerned about my sin --- which resulted in my obesity.

I would try to lose weight. God would try to change my sinful ways. This was a struggle that went on for decades. At the height of my obesity, I weighed 442 pounds. I had been a yo-yo dieter for years. I finally got to the point where I knew I didn’t have God’s permission to go on diets or chase any more weight-watching fads. My sin had to be dealt with. So I patiently waited on the Lord to lead me out of this mess I was in.

I keep a journal with my Bible, and sometimes the entries read more like prayers. In one that I made, I said something like, “God, are you ever going to lead me out of this mess I’ve made? It seems like I have waited on you forever on this subject. You’ve given me victory over all the other challenges in my life. Why won’t you give me victory here? I will continue to wait, but I have to admit that I’m often feeling hopeless that I will ever get victory in this area. Food is my enemy --- and this enemy is killing me. It seems like you’re just going to let it kill me too!”

Well, God was about to take me through Principle 5 in a whole new way. I’ll make a long story short, and just tell you that one of the changes God wanted to make in me - which I had to voluntarily submit to - was a new stomach surgery. As I prayed for a solution, God led me to a Christian doctor, and I ended up having about 80% of my stomach removed. It was an operation that insurance wouldn’t pay for, but for which God provided the money for.

I’m still not what anyone would call slim. But I can say with confidence that food is not killing me any more. I’m healthy and I feel great physically. The thing is, to get this victory, I had to voluntarily submit to a change God wanted to make in me. I was fearful of that change. I balked at that change. I argued with God about it. But ultimately, submission and surrender were required. Today, I can not eat what I want. I have a stomach that won’t handle much. I have given up many things that I enjoyed. Those were changes God wanted to make in me.

I’m not sure what other changes God may want to make in me. But I understand voluntarily submitting to those changes perhaps better than most people would imagine. I challenge each of you to consider what real changes God would like to make in your life. Then ask yourself what your submission to such changes will look like. It’s a vision we need to acquire if recovery is to be truly successful!

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