I remember thinking to myself, I will be better than my father. I will become a present Dad and spend much quality time with my kids teaching them many things I did not learn as a child. I thought it, I tried it, but I fell way short due to my alcoholism and lack of understanding of how not having a Dad around affected me.
I was given The Gift of three beautiful children at a young age and though I loved them and did do some wonderful things with them until my addiction caught up with me before the oldest turned 7. I did not have the appreciation I have now as to how great a responsibility and how wonderful a joy it is to have children. Truth be told I was too self centered to understand.
Later on I was blessed with three more children, the later two after I came to the Lord. Only then did I start to get it, only then when sobriety came did I see where I had gone wrong. And then, slowly but surely God began to lead me to reconcile with the other four, and to be blessed with 13 Grandchildren.
I know this, what is impossible for man is possible with God. He can turn chicken salad into chicken soup, he is the only one who can. Not by my own futile means could I have humbled my self enough to seek this forgiveness. He gave us The Gift of his own son then takes us through a practical path to reconciliation by teaching us who have faltered how to become the fathers and mothers we should have been in the first place.
And then, when I lost my youngest son to death, I began to understand how great His gift and my gifts were and how short the time actually is that we may have the opportunity to enjoy them. I understood how he felt when he watched his son suffer, I understood the suffering I had caused my other children, and my heart was broken but my faith was reinforced.
Because I now understand The Gift and I will never give it away again!
One of my favorite songs is by The Crusaders called "Street Life". In it Randy Crawford sings of the perils of an addict with no hope. This is how the song begins: I still hang around neither lost nor found.
That my have been you, it was certainly me and I sang that song for far too many years. In the depths of addiction our only hope seems to be to do the same thing and get deeper into it. We escape into it to virtually run away from time. Later in the song are these words: I play the street life because there's no place I can go.
Hopeless, lost, no place to go that sums it up for that lifestyle. But then in 1984 it all began to change for me. In the Book of Luke Chapter 15 we read some different words from Street Life. This passage has three parables about being Lost And Found, some call it the lost and found chapter. There is the lost sheep, the lost coin and the lost son.
They all have basically the same conclusion, that "there is rejoicing in heaven over one sinner who repents" However the Life Recovery Bible commentary adds something new, that God feels his kingdom is incomplete without us. Jesus ate with sinners and tax collectors, he healed the marginalized, and in the parable of the lost son, his father ran to meet him after living the wild life. Proof that the father felt incomplete without his son.
But it was also someplace the son could go, and that is the same place I went, home to the father. Hard to imagine the size of the party when I came home from squandering my life away but I am sure it was huge because my sins were many.
Maybe you echo the words of that song today, neither lost nor found, no place you can go. That's what we come to believe with that addictive lifestyle. It's a lie, it's only a song, it's only a myth, and like addiction it is make believe, it's escape.
I love the last verse of that passage in Luke, let it marinate in your spirit: But we had to celebrate and be glad, because this brother of yours was dead and is alive again, he was lost and is found.
Don't escape, come home to the Father, and let's have a real party!
How many times in life have we been knocked down but gotten back up? What motivates us to keep getting up, and conversely what keeps knocking us down? For some of us this happens a little too often.
In my mind, I owe much to my mom who had a wonderful fighting spirit. But that was not enough for me, though it helped navigate some very difficult times. Ultimately what lifted me up out of the slimy pit in life I had fallen into was following an undefeated champion, our Lord Jesus Christ. I wrote this in tribute to Him!
He came into this world with the greatest intentions
To heal, show forgiveness and heavens dimensions
Instead of hate, he sowed seeds of peace and love
He tried to tell them he came from his father above
But they didn't listen, except for a few
They made him feel like an outcast Jew
They mocked him, beat him, hung him on a cross
They thought they had dealt him a tortuous loss
He was dead, he was down, they thought he was out
But they forgot what he said, he had heavenly clout
Three days in a tomb was all he could bear
When they came to check on him, he wasn't there
Where was he at, where did he go
For awhile, no one seemed to know
Then he appeared just talking and walking about
They had knocked him down, but he was never out!
That's more than enough motivation for me to get back up!
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.