In my devotional today the question was posed as this: Do we consider God and his ways to be weighing us down or lightening our load in life? That is an absolute great question that needs an honest answer whether we are considering having a relationship with him or if we have had a rocky road in Christianity.
In the Book of Psalms there is a constant lament over whether God has abandoned his people and whether or not he will serve justice on their oppressors. Also, are you listening God, do you hear us and are you for us? Lots of the same questions we ask today. Consider this from Psalm 103:2-6:
Praise the Lord O my soul, and forget not his benefits - who forgives all your sins and heals all your diseases, who redeems your life from the pit and crowns you with love and compassion, who satisfies your desires with good things so that your youth is renewed like the eagle's. The Lord works righteousness and justice for the oppressed.
That should answer that question emphatically. In my life I still have back issues, the drop foot kicks in every now and then, I had COVID in the hospital but God has healed me from addiction, brought me alive out of that hospital, comforted my soul in grief and brought me back from certain death in many other situations. Some things are not always healed because they may be there to serve a point, some questions may remain because we are not God and do not know everything about him. Adam and Eve tried to know and failed.
Here's what that scripture tells us as well as Matthew 11, my yoke is easy and my burden is light. God has no desire to weigh us down, only to lighten this heavy load we often put upon ourselves in life by our choices. His plan is for us to succeed.
That bad back may be there to keep me from running myself in the ground as I always tend to do. But he has lifted me out of that slimy pit and put my foot on a solid rock and he will do the same for you.
Stop trying to figure everything out, let go of that load, just praise the Lord and watch what happens!
These past two weeks have been devastating to our community as we have lost two good men to addiction overdose. It not only affects the families but leaves the rest of us with a combination of grief, and a feeling of what if as in what if we could have done more?
The answer to that question is we couldn't. I learned a long time ago that God is God and I am not. There is no way we can make someone change and if they do decide to change the only thing we can do is love on them, and plant the seeds of faith in their hearts to help them grow. The hardest part for us is watching self destruction when we see so much potential.
These two men were both good guys who had traveled on the wrong path. We even Baptized one of them and rejoiced together as our beloved Georgia Bulldogs won another National Championship. But what I have to understand is that maybe God wanted this young man with him to celebrate as well. Maybe he did not want him to go too far down that wrong road again.
I did not know the other man well but I remember his big smile. I remember that he seemed to have a great effect on others and wish he were still around to spread that love some more. His name was Greg, the other man was Warren.
We will not soon forget them but instead put more effort into helping the seeds in others to grow so that they see the freedom in a life of faith and sobriety. Our job is simply to plant and cultivate so that others will not be gone too soon!
Rest in peace brothers you will be missed!
No matter what arena you attempt it in, winning championships, salesman of the year, elections or whatever else you may consider, it is most difficult to sustain excellence in succession. As my beloved Georgia Bulldogs celebrated their back to back championships Coach Kirby Smart uttered these words:
"When entitlement creeps into your program you're in trouble."
In so many ways this statement illustrates life's problems. Take a recovering addict for example who has busted it beyond belief just to make it a year clean against all odds and through excruciating pain to get there. They pick up that chip and then reality sets in, what do I do now? Well, you do the same things that got you where you are now only you add more positive friends and things that give you a spark.
And then you give back. That's right that's what the scriptures, the Big Book of A.A., and even the players on Georgia's team say. One of the key reasons for their success, the Brotherhood and the selfless play that allows others beside yourself to succeed. We cannot make an extended championship run in life unless we adhere to the principles that build winning lifestyles.
Entitlement says I have this all together therefore I am good. Entitlement says now that I have won I don't have to work as hard. Do you know why there are so many frustrated Christians? After surrendering their lives to Christ they thought He should do all the work now and neglected to read that scripture that spoke of working out you own salvation. When saved that doesn't mean we are solved.
God gives us the tools now, including his Spirit to guide us through the trials of life toward that Championship ring when we get to heaven. For the addict, neglecting to have God in their program makes them believe they can do it on their own, which usually results in an epic fail. For a football player failing to put in the hard work doing the basics of blocking and tackling all over again, this also breeds failure.
Doing it over and over again with sustained success is hard, but it is the role of a champion. I will let the words of the Apostle Paul close out this blog which can apply to all facets of life:
I discipline my body like an athlete, training it to do what it should. Otherwise, I fear that after preaching to others I myself will be disqualified. 1 Cor 9:27 NLT
Most everyone is aware of the situation with Damar Hamlin the Buffalo Bills football player who suffered a cardiac arrest during a game last Monday night. He remains in critical condition but has been alert and communicating by writing despite enduring two situations where CPR brought him back to life.
What has developed from all of the aftermath is an outpouring of love and prayers across America that may be unprecedented in the world of sports. His Go Fund Me account to raise funds for toys for displaced children that was at about $600K has jumped to nearly $7 million from loving donations. His situation has caused faith to rise to the occasion which often happens when all may be lost.
Damar has made a remarkable comeback in such a short time. What has transpired is that prayer is being mentioned and lifted up in such abundance that one must believe God has used this situation to demonstrate not only his power to heal (Damar's family are believers) but also the power he has to unify all different beliefs into believing in him.
Players prayed on the field with heavy hearts and many tears. ESPN prayed on the air (never happens). People lined the hospital and stood outside the stadium in vigil for Damar. For a few moments, for a few days we were all one praying and hoping he would survive this tragic circumstance. I know I couldn't sleep thinking about him.
If you read the Book of Psalms it seems the writers were always under some type of duress that sent them on their knees to pray as was the case here. David in particular was under siege with the threat of his life ending every day. Tragedy or the threat of it always seems to produce prayer in abundance.
So sorry for Damar's situation but he has helped to unite us all in a cause, he has helped us all to hold our loved ones a little closer and he has helped us all to connect much more with our creator.
May the Lord continue to heal him and to heal our hearts as well!
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 email@example.com.