Have you seen the Marine Corps commercial where they run toward rather than away from the battle? I learned that, but I forgot it for many years while staggering about in my addiction. Then when I met the Lord it all began to come back to me.
I took heart in the fact that his disciples scattered when confronted with their belief, except for the women it seemed who had enough courage to stay until the bitter end. We may think we as men have a lock on courage, but we need to think again. We must all pose the internal question to ourselves, when confronted with conflict, do we stand and fight or run?
Some of us may be just Born To Run from a background of addiction and other past experiences.
Others may take a long hard look at the situation to see what the consequences are before they decide. They say alcohol and other mind altering drugs can confuse us with temporary courage, but what do we do in sobriety? What training do we have to keep us committed to what we believe in that allows us to stand and fight? (Not speaking literally about violence, only about resolve)
For me, it is simple. Sure being a Marine helped, I still retain what I learned back then. But what really infuses my spirit is learning from Jesus, who stood his ground despite the pain and suffering it caused him. He did what he said he was going to do though spending at least one night in angst over his fate. He never used Spirits to gain strength, he instead called upon the Spirit to enable him to endure.
For those many years of addiction I too was an escape artist, hiding behind the curtain of alcohol, drugs and sex. Then when sober, it took me many years to get this right. You are nothing more than your word, and your words are never greater than your actions. It is never wrong to do the right thing, and always without exception, harmful, to do the wrong thing.
"I have told you these things, so that in me you may have peace. In this world you will, have trouble. But take heart! I have overcome the world."
Words of wisdom from John 16, words of action from one who stood his ground.
In a way that was meant to be constructive, regarding making a decision, my good friend said to me the other day "The only thing you and God have in common is that your name begins with the letter G". Ouch!
Sure did not come out constructive but when you examine it from the meaning of what he intended, it meant He knows it all, I know very little. He has the answers, I mostly have questions. He knows the way, I am mostly feeling my way along in life. He makes the rules, I need to keep them not always question them. He has the authority, I have only to obey.
My favorite saying in the process of my recovery has been God Is God, And I am Not and these friendly words were just a reminder of the truth of this. Though simple to say, it is not always easily followed. That brain God gave me tends to want to be creative in making life work the way it wants to and that often contradicts the will of God. The only way I can reel it in is to stay balanced every day by reading and absorbing the word, by having a praying conversation as often as possible with Him, and by talking to folks that share my same belief more than the others that don't.
I can go back over each day as it comes to a close and surely my attitude reflects what I have allowed into my mind and what I have spent the most time with. Easily, I can make simple things greater than God. For example, yesterday I must have read 20 articles about our next Super Bowl Champion Atlanta Falcons, but read only one passage of scripture. Said a lot of prayers, but truthfully most of my thoughts were of football.
Okay maybe for a day to get a little distracted, but not healthy for me to continue that trend. You see I am just rooting for the Birds to win but God already knows the outcome. To stay balanced I need to just realize it is in His hands and just enjoy the outcome this Sunday.
After I go to church of course, and pray that they will win. And, for the infinite time say these words:
God Is God And I Am Not. But also, Go Falcons!
This was the quote from my Men's Devotional yesterday:
Never allow difficult times to overpower the glory and omnipotence of God. He triumphs far above all - even when you go through the darkest valley.
It brought back memories of my long ride back to ATL after I got the news my son had died. Man, that was the lowest point of my life, every part of me shook with grief and regret flooded my mind that maybe I could have done this or done that or just been there to prevent it. Some of you have been there, too. It was during those times that my relationship with the Lord grew even stronger through the darkness.
And when I read that quote it reminded that almost every triumph in the Bible was after a loss. Abraham, Moses, Ruth, Peter -you can rattle off an infinite number of people who experienced this. Then of course, everyone counted the Crucifixion as a loss, there was much grief, until the Resurrection that is, then it became apparent to the disciples and to us today that there must be a.......
Losing To Win.
A coach of some kind once said we must learn how to lose to learn how to win and in our daily walk out of addiction and trouble or the worst kind, we realize that unless we learn how to cope with loss (whether self inflicted or not), we can never appreciate the winning. It may get to a point where we ask God "Can we just stop the pain and get to the gain?" but it is in the battlegrounds of loss that we learn who we are, how much fight we have in us, and what we believe.
Think how hard it was for those disciples to understand what just happened with Jesus on the cross, and look at how many scattered when their faith was on the line. But they regrouped, they received power to go on and they fought until the end for what they believed. So when we buckle, when we wonder, when we fear, take heart because Jesus gave us some words of comfort:
Do not let your hearts be troubled. You believe in God, believe in me also. John 14:1
Because as that same devotional points out, do not allow sudden evil and bad news to upset you and shake you. We are still who we say we are and God is still who he says he is no matter what happens. Nothing can change this, not even death.
Sometimes life is just life and we have to experience Losing To eventually Win!
A number of years ago Dr. Spencer Johnson wrote a book that flew off the shelves-Who Moved My Cheese. The story chronicles how 4 mice living in a maze found their source of cheese, lost it and had to go looking for it again. It was a depiction of how we as humans handle change, or not.
Last week I realized just how much in the past couple years that My Cheese Is Moving. New job, new location, lots of travel, new place to live, another new place to live, selling a house, finding a place to worship, changing my office several times, changing my parking spot...I could go on, but here is the point I arrived at - after a certain amount of change, the human body and mind starts to rebel.
It rebels through the stress, that even if internalized begins to wear you down, it continues with a sense of being overwhelmed, and arrives eventually at a place where you have frankly have had enough change and draw a line in the sand. You need a break from change, you need to repeat the Serenity Prayer many times and ask God when does it end?
Not a lack of faith, but an asking of the question that is asked many times in scripture. We could take this blog many places from here, but if you will allow me to, let me just put it on a single mark. As the book points out, those who have prepared for change (2 of the mice stored cheese for an eventual cheese drought), need only to take a step back for a moment, gather themselves and press on.
Others feel totally lost and struggle mightily with anxiety, depression and uncertainty (the other 2 mice are called Hem and Haw after complaining humans),
and they waste a whole lot of time pointing fingers, blaming their plight on others.
So the point is when you find My Cheese Is Moving if we stay centered on the faith we have stored up, on the God who will take us to the ultimate promised land, we won't let a bunch of cheese moving hold us back, we will keep pressing forward to find new cheese.
It's called the adventure of life, it even makes you wonder why Swiss Cheese has holes in it? (That would be another blog topic)
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.