Many of you may have begun ordering these pre-portioned and pre-packaged foods that make it easier to eat the right amount of food. No cooking, no hassle, just right!
Except, those of us who tend to eat a little more, like me, are reluctant to buy their deal because it may not be enough. If we cook, at least we have control of our portion. After all, that is what most of us want, and is usually a source of major conflict with God - who has control of our portion of anything?
In my life this has been a major struggle from addiction and throughout marriages. My portion never seemed to be enough to satisfy my needs. Only later in life, like in the past 10 years or so have I begun to understand how this works with the Lord. He already knows what portion we need to have, but we have circumvented his great plans with our own.
Then along comes a word from His word that puts it all in perspective: Psalm 15:5-6
Lord, you have assigned me my portion and my cup; you have made my lot secure. The boundary lines have fallen for me in pleasant places; surely I have a delightful inheritance.
Now I get it, like I said it took me awhile, but David nailed this one by understanding the boundaries God had for him even though he stepped way out of bounds for awhile. Though I am nowhere near a David, that was my story but now God has my portion set, and finally has my compliance with it. And, it is a very pleasant place indeed!
Makes me wonder why I stayed out of bounds for so long. Definitely did not measure up to this present moment.
Relevance - the quality or state of being closely connected or appropriate.
There is no doubt that when in active addiction, homelessness or quarantine that we can feel we are not relevant. Folks who have been fighting for decades to be recognized, to have rights like others also do not feel relevant outside their own communities.
But have you ever thought that though he does not need our approval to be God, and does not need us to make the plans that he has, he is constantly seeking for us to make his relevance present in our lives, primarily because we are so distracted by the speed of life. We are going so fast, so hi-tech that he has become an afterthought, like when we are at rock bottom, our bank account is overdrawn and our phone is lost. Then we seek his help.
In the Old Testament in one of the 10 Commandments he says "Thou shall have no other gods before me". In other words, he wants to be the most relevant thing in our lives. Everything else eventually becomes irrelevant if we ignore this fact. Jesus said, "I am the way, the truth, and the life; no man comes to the father except through me."
Making him relevant gives us direction, understanding of truth, and life that has abundance in purpose. Isn't that what we strive for? We work so hard to make it happen, and often we find ourselves treading water, stuck in the mire, because we have made many other gods before him and we are disconnected from THE power source.
I love Psalm 40, it is full of the ups and downs of life. "I waited patiently for the Lord to help me, and he turned to me and heard my cry. He lifted me out of the slimy pit, out of the mud and mire. He set my feet on a solid rock and steadied me as I walked along."
For those of us who have been at rock bottom, that's a rock of relevance, that's God! He can do for us what we cannot do for ourselves.
I embarked on a mission yesterday to help a couple of homeless persons at the request of a nearby city in Gwinnett County, and though we may have been helpful, it was an educational experience for me. I thought I understood their plight by the hundreds of people who have come through sober living facilities we help, but the two men we assisted were different.
One in his 50's the other his 60's, these guys actually enjoyed living wild and free. If they were given proper resources like food, clothing and a tent with no holes in it, they would probably choose to stay in the woods. Given that, my job was to get them in a better place, and after an initial easy go of it to get them to go with me, they both balked at having to live with other people.
Right in front of them was a clinician from the great folks at Viewpoint Health, and me, a guy willing to put it on the line to help and they balked. Though we did get one housing for a week and assistance with health and job issues by Viewpoint, the other, after we gave him some clothes and a couple meals chose to return to the woods.
When I asked him that if we helped him get a job, and a place to live would that work said to me, "I don't want the hassle of caring for a home".
Their responses won't change the fact that we will help if they ask for it in the future, but as I drove away from taking that man back to the woods I was in near tears and worn out emotionally from trying to deal with all of this. Because drugs and alcohol were not the main issue, these men would be caught in between COVID and a situation that we as a county and a country have had so much difficulty solving.
Understanding homelessness is complicated, just as complicated as the stories these men told me. But at least we have begun a dialogue and just possibly we may have established some trust that we can help. In the meanwhile I ask that you pray for these men that are on the doorstep of our communities, seemingly without a way to get in.
The only solution I know is to pray for guidance in how to serve them and for their surrender to the process of re-entry. Not an east transition, but nothing is impossible for God!
To some of us we did not find our faith until we were Out of Options, deep in our addiction, lost in a sea of problems or buried in the depth of debt. Nothing, I mean nothing was working that we tried, it only took us deeper into the struggle.
There was a woman mentioned in Mark 5:25-34 who was at this point. For twelve years she had struggled with an issue of blood which remains undefined by scholars as to exactly what that meant. In any regard it was a serious enough issue that she had spent all her money on doctors, and it says instead of getting better, she got worse. Sound familiar?
So, in her desperation, and truly out of options, she came to join the crowd following Jesus to see if this miracle worker could cure her. Her thoughts were "If I just touch his clothes, I will be healed". As far as I can tell this is the only person in Jesus ministry that thought she would be healed by touching his clothes. She was desperate and again, out of options, but in this case she found there was indeed, another unused option.
We desperate ones who are healed by this enormous power need to remember this one important fact, Jesus said to her "Your faith has healed you, go in peace and be freed from your suffering." Being freed carries with it the responsibility to show others how to get this same freedom, it is written in the scriptures, it is written as a Twelfth Step. We stay out of suffering by showing others that they too don't have to suffer. Not by our power, but by his.
Because when we are Out of Options he is the only remaining source of healing that won't get worse, only better. "So much better his way!" (From the song Defender.)
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.