We have a guest blogger this week, Allison Miller, the author of the book Desperate For Love, and a speaker at ATB in December. You will find this compelling and right on the mark. Enjoy! - Glenn
Remembering - Our Rescuer
When I was a young teen we traveled south to the beach. During time there I came to befriend some of the lifeguards. I was asked to pretend I was drowning to test some of the newer lifeguards.
I agreed and being an excellent swimmer took off for deep waters. I was confident I could fool these newbies, put them to the test as asked and be back on shore within a few minutes.
As I swam farther out, the seas became rough and my feet no longer touched the ocean floor. I treaded water for a while and then began to splash around and panic as I was asked. It was then that I truly began to sink. I was tired, my arms and legs begged for a rest. No one was there to hold me up or lean on and I could no longer keep my head above water. I was scared, screaming for help and gulping saltwater, believing I might die.
All of a sudden, a hand came under my chin and lifted my head out of the water. I heard, “Just rest, I've got you." A lifeguard was pulling me to safety, but I didn't know if I was going to make it until I was on shore, had my breath and could stand again.
In the same way that lifeguard rescued me when I was a teen, God rescued me from the hand of my enemies as an adult. I was a prisoner, blinded from the truth and had gotten into such deep waters I was drowning. I was paralyzed in fear and could no longer function. I was desperate for someone to love me, to care about me. I called for help. I called for anyone, someone. It was then, while 10,000 miles from home and in my most broken state that suddenly a Hand lifted me from those deep waters, and delivered me to solid ground! A voice said, "Rest in me, I've got you." Our loving Father heard my cry and “He reached down from heaven and rescued me; He drew me out of deep waters." (2 Samuel 22:17 NLT)
I will never forget where I came from and that it was Him who rescued me. Thank you Lord Jesus that you are our loving God, full of mercy, compassion and grace as you say you are. I love you with all my heart, mind, soul and strength and am SO thankful that you opened my heart to your love and drew me to You—the Way, the Truth and the Life.
"You hypocrite, first take the plank out of your own eye and then you will see clearly to remove the speck from your brother's eye"
How many times this week have you been disappointed by someone? Does it seem like no one can do the right thing or keep a promise?
Are your expectations of the human race taking a jolt because no one will listen to you? As David often says, SELAH!
Recently it seems we have had a rash of disappointing things happen in the ATB ministry, and, though I know it is a difficult thing to understand, people who are or have been involved in addiction are a work in progress. I know first hand because I am a recovering person who has had to reduce that plank in my own eye of dysfunctional behavior so that I can see clearly the folks across from me. And you know something, compared to the things I used to do and still have to work on, they don't look so bad. So my disappointment is a rare occurrence. Let me explain.
When I look at how much I have been forgiven for, I sink to my knees in disbelief that any God anywhere would put up with me. True, I may be much better, but I have not forgotten what led me to my surrender to Christ, and I never will. I was broken, disillusioned and disturbed, but it all was forgiven at the cross, and now I struggle daily to stay between the lines. There is no struggle when I follow the path of the Holy Spirit, but the struggle is to always stay on that path.
This is not something I deserve credit for, it is only what the Lord would have me do -be humble, be forgiving and look for opportunities to make a difference. I know this is not an easy concept to grasp, especially for the really good folks who never had to struggle with this addiction or major dysfunction thing.
What do you think God had on his mind when he created the world? Most of us probably never go that deep unless we are a Bible student or were in the midst of our drug induced high's where we were in "another world". It is a question we may ask when we see him in heaven but will never be answered by our human logic.
Maybe this one is a little easier. What were the Platters thinking when they recorded the song "Only You"? Not quite as old as the beginning of time, but definitely old school. What is anyone thinking when they sing a love song?
Possibly the creation of mankind was a love song from God to us. Think of the Garden of Eden. I would bet that every day God is singing us a love song, but we are not always listening, we are too busy self destructing. Maybe, mankind and God exchange love songs every day, but we direct them more to another person of his creation rather than him. Not a bad thing, but might be a good idea if we send him one first, then show that same love to another person.
Like these words from that Platter's song:
Only you can make all this world seem right
Only you can make the darkness bright
Only you and you alone
Can thrill me like you do
And fill my heart for only you
As I was thinking yesterday about you, I thought how God has laid on my heart the importance of every human being. Each of us is loved so deeply by him and he so longs for us to reciprocate, to him, and to each other. We may have one of the two right, but to accomplish both is a masterpiece of his plan.
Just maybe another line from that song gives us a blueprint how to do it:
Only you can make all this change in me
I think that to Him, you are his "One and only you", and he is singing to you right now words of love, encouragement and hope. To me you are the most precious part of my earthly life, someone I can express my gratitude and love to on behalf of my creator, who has loved me far more than I deserved. He truly made that change in me.
Write your own song to Him, send us a copy and let's commence to sing that same song to as many others as we can. And BTW, you truly are my one and only you!
While thinking about this week's blog, a couple things came to mind as a title, but I am not sure everyone remembers them. The first, the great call by Howard Cossell when then Heavyweight Champion Joe Frazier got knocked down by challenger George Foreman......"Down Goes Frazier, Down Goes Frazier". It was a classic call and of course, Joe got up, being the champion he was, and continued to fight on.
The second was one of my all time favorite movies "Down And Out In Beverly Hills", where Nick Nolte plays a homeless man down on his luck who tries to drown himself in the pool of some prominent folks. They rescue him and his life takes a turn for the much better, and it is quite hilarious as he makes a comeback. Both of these situations remind me that life may take us down sometimes, but God gives us the strength to bounce right back up.
I was sick with that crud going around this weekend, not surprising after high winds in Tampa with a wind chill of 15 there last week and rain, cold and fog in Daphne the past few days. On Tuesday I was wearing shorts in Orlando, and by Thursday I had four layers on. My body took a hit and I paid for it. No problem, it is part of the trade, but what was different this time was that I was sick in a strange place, away from home, and thoughts of "Mama" kept going through my head as I ate a ton of chicken noodle soup.
When we are down for whatever reason, we tend to draw on our past to lift ourselves up and out of it. If our past did not include God, it may be difficult to let him help us because we have become so independent. But I have learned something valuable- if we continually rely on our own resources to bring us up and out, eventually we are going to get knocked out. With God's guidance we never get knocked out; we only experience a temporary setback.
Yes, maybe I was a little wimpy this weekend, I think the tendency when we get sick is to feel sorry for ourselves. But, it's only a temporary setback, I was down but not out!
And I hope you remember that nothing is impossible for God, no matter what has gotten you down or taken you out, he has an answer. After all, he was the one provided the chicken soup.
heard a country western song by Blackhawk a few years ago that used the above phrase as a means to say that you can run away from a problem, but the problem may really be you, so you may never really run away from it. Then someone said an equally important thing that really made this song hit home, "What is the only common denominator in your marriages?"
There was only one honest answer, Me!
We truly like to play the blame game, like our bosses, our kids, our lack of money or a partner, whatever pops up in life we can fill in the blanks to find someone or something else to be the problem. But what I have come to realize is something God knew a long time ago, we are all flawed and imperfect, but the only person we can truly improve on is ourselves. Every situation we face is an opportunity to grow and improve on who we are, which may help us attract like minded people to be a part of our lives.
That is why (say it please, here we go again), working on ourselves in some fashion, like the 12 Steps or counseling, combined with a life long walk with the Lord, especially if we have been bruised or been a bruiser, insures we may start to get it right, and our problems become less about us pushing the envelope and more about just plain life. What once may have been chaos is now peace, but still has its moments. And you never know how well you have learned your lesson until faced with a similar situation again; and we may fail again, and again, but we have a mighty God to help us get up off the ground, dust our pants off and go try again.
The unlimited supply of grace and mercy provided by our Lord should be motivation to persevere until we get things right. And it's really good to have people around us who challenge us, encourage us, and keep us accountable to do that right thing. If we hide and don't communicate, it's a good bet that we don't want to face the problem, we just want to run away and be left alone. That's okay, but......
Wherever you go, there you are! And, the problem is never solved if we keep it locked inside our hearts.
Time and time again we are in the process of working the Steps and, through the wreckage of our past, dealing with feelings. Feelings of low self esteem, feelings from abuse, feelings of anger, rage and resentment, the list of potential bad feelings goes on and on. For me, there are still things after 30 years of recovery that are hard to deal with.
Even after giving them up, praying and having long conversations with the Lord, there are moments when these difficult feelings that are supposed to be in the past come back from nowhere. Some situations are just too close to home and seem never to let those feelings go completely away. A New Year doesn't wipe them out even though we may make a resolution to let them go.
Even though we become a "new creation" when we are saved, there is still the matter of "working out our own salvation with fear and trembling" which means to get right we have to go through some struggles to get there. Some people will tell you, you shouldn't feel that way, but in the end they are your feelings and you own them, not them (the other people). You are the one that hurts if you have been abused and you watch someone else go through the same thing- some folks just don't understand.
So it may be a new year, but we must continue to sort through those feelings as they come up. The key is to not let them send you back out into a relapse, a binge or a dark hole. One of the guys here at the Toyota dealership drank heavily before the last day of the month because he could not sleep, he had chest pains and deep worry that we wouldn't "hit our numbers." This same feeling had happened numerous times in the past, and some folks paychecks and bonuses rely on the outcome.
At the point he relayed that to me, I did not give him a lecture about turning it over to God, but I just said we will make it brother, don't worry. And when we hit those numbers tonight, and he asks, I will tell him why I was not worried, but never criticize him for having those feelings.
I may also tell him there may be an alternative to staying up all night and drinking!
Happy New Year, Glenn
Glenn is an ex-Marine Viet Nam vet who is also a recovering alcoholic, clean and sober for 30 years. He has been involved in start up and ongoing recovery ministry at North Atlanta Church and Campus for the last two decades. He has a passion for outreach and to spread the message that the answer to lasting and fulfilling recovery from addiction is in a relationship with Jesus Christ. He and the ATB team are available to assist in your questions or needs on an individual basis and will do so maintaining complete confidentiality. You may e-mail him at firstname.lastname@example.org.