Oddly enough, given that I am middle-aged, this is a period of steady change as I invite Jesus to turn his laser-sharp eyes on area after area of my life (ouch!). Orderly housekeeping which used to be an issue bit of a disaster has been resolved (because Roy is now a part-time house-husband, in an inspired role-reversal.) I write regularly. I no longer stay up till the very early hours of the morning and then sleep in! My coffee addiction has been broken. I have gained control of my fiery temper, and am (IMO) becoming almost phlegmatic!
But weight, which has been an issue all my adult life—well, I’ve only lost 10 pounds over the last 7 months. And could lose another 90 pounds, no kidding!
How did I gain it? I am sedentary, love reading, thinking, and writing. To keep going when my concentration flags and blood sugar plummets, I nibble chocolate or cookies. And sugar is highly addictive. I literally adjust my moods with food, staving off low moods and boredom with comfort snacks, seeking and attaining artificial highs, delinking hunger and eating. And all my life I have eaten carelessly, considering taste more than calories.
So two addictions—sugar, and comfort eating.
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Though all change in my life has come about by a combination of grace and sweat, I have longed for a fairy tale deliverance,
Here’s how Bill Wilson the founder of Alcoholics Anonymous quit his addiction to drink, while going crazy with delirium tremens. “If there is a God, let him show himself,” he yelled. “I am ready to do anything. Anything” At that moment, a white light filled his room, the pain ceased, and he felt as if he were on a mountaintop, “and a wind not of air but of spirit was blowing. And then it burst upon me that I was a free man. Slowly the ecstasy subsided.” Bill Wilson would never have another drink.” (The Power of Habit, Charles Duhigg).
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So last Saturday, after a glorious, heavenly solitary hike to a waterfall in the Brecon Beacons, I go to the revival meetings at Cwmbran.
And I am standing in line waiting for prayer, and sort of prepping God, “Lord, I am overweight, and my weight is affecting my ability to fully enjoy travel, and hiking and my energy levels, and I eat too much chocolate, and eat to boost my mood and concentration. And so, well, here I am, waiting for one touch from the King.”
And I suddenly remember Elijah’s brutally frank, weary words to Israel, “How long will you vacillate between two opinions?”
Sin, repent. Sin, repent. Go on a diet, get bored of it. Lose 20 pounds, gain them and more. Oh, how those cycles weary me!!
Sometimes God can be brusque. When He judges the entire Israelite community, “Joshua tore his clothes and fell facedown to the ground before the ark of the Lord, remaining there till evening. And at evening God says, “Stand up! What are you doing down on your face? Israel has sinned” (Joshua 7:10).
Sin? I say feebly, though I know the answer.
“Yes, idolatry. Seeking joy and pleasure and energy in what is essentially cursing the body I gave you. Instead of seeking life in Me, and in the good things I have given you.”
“Anita, it’s a choice.” I hear him say, forcibly. “Anita, you are choosing.”
The alcoholic chooses each drink, and chooses to stop drinking. The nicotine addict chooses to smoke, and chooses to stop smoking.
“Anita, you are choosing, choosing the chocolate. Choosing to eat when you are not hungry, choosing calories your body does not need.”
So I get prayer, and the first time around, it’s all theological grandstanding about the cross and the blood (powerful freeing theological concepts if you “get” them in heart and imagination and head, and, to be honest, I don’t). The prayer does not shake me, because you see God had already given me that tough-love talk, while I was waiting for prayer.
And what he said was: “Anita, you are choosing. Do you want to be healed?”
“Yes? Then, just stop. Rise and walk like a healed woman.”
* * *
I had arranged to meet a journalist at the Cwmbran meetings, a real journalist, who switched on her tape recorder as I spoke, and who I noticed quietly photograph the great scenes with her nifty tiny camera. We step out of the meeting after we both been prayed for, and were both in tears.
And we talked about addiction, as one does, and she mentioned that at a tough time of her life while working for a notorious newspaper, she drunk heavily and smoking, and on becoming a Christian, she just stopped.
I walk back into the meetings.
Yes, I will accept God’s healing. I will take up my pallet and walk, step by step by faith. I will gulp grace when tempted by food when I am not hungry. I will eat the word of God. I will drink the Holy Spirit.
The second time, I was prayed for by the Pastor who had just mentioned his time in jail. (That’s what’s so special about Cwmbran, the pastors, Richard Taylor, Clyde Thomas, Kenny Brandie talk about their time in Her Majesty’s Prison, or their drug habit as if, you know, all of us have been err…guests of her Majesty at some time). He prays, and I feel my legs buckle, and I feel electricity goes through me and I burst into tears, and this encounter with God is real.
Without getting too mystical about it, I mentally see Christ outstretch his hands to me, palms joined, and from them living water flows. “If anyone is thirsty, let him come to me and drink,” without money and without price.” I come. I drink. I accept my healing.
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