I love to cook. I love to grill. I love to come up with new types of dishes that I think people would like – and that taste good. Usually it comes out that way. I think I have even grown beyond the temptation to simply add more cheese if something needs more flavor. Oh sure, I like to cruise through recipe alley on the many sites on the Internet and think “Wouldn’t that be delicious!” or “I bet my wife would really like that.” But the bottom line is that I do not like to follow recipes.
I am not really sure what it is about recipes that bugs me. Most are not that difficult to follow and they usually come with comments from others about ways of making the recipe result in a better product. In some ways, not following a recipe is a positive as I can make dishes that taste good to me. But then there are the drawbacks of attempting to recreate a dish that turns out well and it is a challenge to share the recipe with someone else and be confident it will turn out anywhere near to what it was the first time. In the bigger scheme of things, it is not really a serious issue. Following a recipe or not does not really have much impact on my life as long the people who eat what I cook are still alive when they are finished.
Early in recovery, one of the “recipe” books I followed the Big Book of Alcoholics Anonymous. What I found most helpful was the structure of the 12-Steps. There was a logical progression to them and as long as I worked my way through them, I seemed to find success in staying abstinent from alcohol.
To confess something, I did not really follow the Big Book exactly as written. I defined my Higher Power and encouraged others to look into Jesus as their higher power too. I did not attend 90 meetings in 90 days and there were many times I broke my anonymity in a way to help others. But it did help me establish my sobriety.
The longer I am in recovery, the more people I see who establish abstinence in their lives without the 12 steps. Maybe it is through Rational Recovery or medications or prayer and support of friends. But whatever the path they followed, it worked for them. It appears that the Big Book does not have all the answers and strict adherence is needed for those with whom it works. This is a statement of fact not an affront to the 12 steps.
For all the seemingly endless recipe books and publications I have read, there is one book that needs to be central in my life – the Bible. I read this every day and have come to know a good many things about this book. This is not a self-help book. It shares the good news of God’s plan for the world, how it was fulfilled and how everyone can become part of that plan. And this is the testimony: God has given us eternal life, and this life is in his Son. 1 John 5:11.
However, it does show me the way to live in such a way that I can witness to others about that good news. I need to avoid trying to apply what the Bible says to others. When I do that I tend to lose whatever I have learned as I focus on others and not on myself. (Sort of like taking someone else’s inventory.)
There is history, recounting of wars and of many people with obvious character defects (sin.) There is prose and poetry that surpasses anything written. There are fulfilled prophecies and pictures of events yet to occur. And there are promises. Oh so may promises of how God will protect me and shower his blessings down on me.
Now the tough part. Recipes I can change and still come up with something delicious. Recovery can be accomplished through a number of paths. But the Bible needs to be accepted as a whole. I cannot pick and choose what I want to believe. Sometimes that is difficult.
The passage above states that eternal life is only found in his Son, Jesus and his sacrifice for the world h through his death on the cross. But sometimes, I feel I need to show God all my accomplishments to earn his favor and get to heaven. Then there is the temptation to bargain with God – I promise to be a better person if only you … And to this I read For it is by grace you have been saved, through faith—and this is not from yourselves, it is the gift of God— not by works, so that no one can boast. Ephesians 2:8-9.
So I read my Bible and as a result my faith grows. Now everything goes smoothly in my life – right? Nope! This could be another difficult area for me as I strive to accept all of the Bible. Sometimes it does not feel as though God is fulfilling all his promises to take care of me when I want him to. Fertile soil for doubt to grow in a person like me who has a little problem with control.
He who did not spare his own Son, but gave him up for us all—how will he not also, along with him, graciously give us all things? Romans 8:32. Pretty powerful promise, isn’t it? Add to this the fact that my past is a testimony to God’s faithfulness and I have nothing to fear or to doubt. He always provides, always protects, and only out of love for me. Even more is amazing is God showers his love on me despite my times of distrust.
I can change or not follow recipes, and things still can taste good. I have known a good number of people found recovery through various means, not just through the Big Book and the twelve steps. But there is only one book ever written that will affect me not only during my earthly time, but forever. I cannot afford to skip anything in the Bible.
I will continue reading the Bible and growing my faith. Keep coming back and share the life journey God has laid out for me. And please consider adding the Bible to your regular reading routine, especially if you have not read it before. I will wait you!
But these are written that you may believe that Jesus is the Messiah, the Son of God, and that by believing you may have life in his name. John 20:31