At the end of a 9 day honeymoon, driving from Ironton, Ohio to the airport at Columbus, where we would fly home to Atlanta, my eyes were fixed on the speedometer. On the way in as well as the drive out there were police everywhere waiting to ticket speeders. Because of the remote location of Ironton there were many small towns, many changing speed limits that required Focus Focus Focus!
As a matter of fact on the way in, the GPS had said turn left which I did right on to a one way road with three lanes of oncoming traffic headed toward us. So needless to say my unfamiliarity of the area and my short attention span were battling inside my head.
Then it happened, a phone call from a friend, five minutes on the phone with him, then turning to my wife to explain the nature of the call, I glanced in the rear view mirror to see flashing red and blue lights. I had taken my eyes off my primary focus just briefly and got ticketed 14 miles over the speed limit even though I was stopped in a zone in which I was 9 miles over. It was that fast, that close to being okay!
That mirrors life and particularly recovery and relapse. One minute or maybe even one year or more, we are doing okay then we just let down for a moment and everything changes. My mistake only cost $135 but others in my life and even yours may have cost us much more. It seems like just human nature to just let down for a moment, but we see examples everywhere of what a moment can do, how things can change.
It happened to David, it happened to the Braves last night who should have left the 3rd inning ahead 2-0, but lost their focus, made a bunch of mental blunders and instead were down 9-2. I could go on, but the point is we are all human, and when we are in danger (lots of police looking for speeders), when we let down (David, when he should have been off to war), and when we are watching a baseball go 100 MPH (not chewing bubble gum talking to other infielders) we need to lock in and let nothing cause us to lose focus.
Let your eyes look straight ahead, fix your gaze directly before you. Proverbs 5:25
Wise words, I need to pay more attention not lose my attention.
I have told the story so many times yet each time it gets a little more modified, a little more passionate. It is about a speech Winston Churchill gave to a group of college students in his latter years. Old and feeble it consisted of only 3 words but each time he rose to speak his voice gained tone and clarity.
Never Give Up
Just think of the possibilities of doing this. Our relationships can mend, our battle to lose weight can be won, our dreams can come true, our families can heal, and our goals can become reality. But beyond these words comes a question, why do we put them into practice?
Because we can always get better, we can always change, we can always go a little farther, do a little more to help, be a better person, father, husband, wife, friend, encourager and on and on and on. We put those words into practice because we are those with a fighting spirit who follow the words of our leaders, especially of our ultimate leader, God.
With God, nothing is impossible
Have something getting the best of you? Something not happening that requires more effort of you? Get up, get out, go do it, get right because the Lord has shown us that we are not to shrink away from a challenge and we can get things right if we just believe that with his help we can do all things.
The little engine that could, the Braves from worst to first, to dream the impossible dream, the Cubs win the World Series, David defeats Goliath,
Jesus rises from the dead, the lost son comes home...........we have the examples, now it is just up to us to say, you know what?
I will Never Give Up!
Yesterday was a great day for me to reflect, I am sure you have had one of those, some are difficult but others make you want to just shout thank you Lord!
With some time to kill before a meeting, I stopped by a Whole Foods market, got some lunch and sat in the back of my truck in the parking lot and had an impromptu picnic. Got a little tan too. Anyway, I thought of my former boss who allowed me to begin my "retirement" early, who had realized my heart wasn't in the car business anymore, so I called him and thanked him for allowing me to get so much done in the past 3 months.
Then the song "That Ain't My Truck" that Rhett Atkins sings began to cross my mind as I realized how much I loved that Toyota truck I bought. It had been 30 plus years before I had bought something new, and sitting in the bed of it soaking up some rays, I recalled those words Rhett sang, "That's my girl, she's my whole world, but that ain't my truck." His point, he lost his girl to someone else, and the new man's truck was parked in his old driveway.
I thought how much in a year my life had changed, how I rode back in that truck to ATL when Paul died, how I had hauled stuff back and forth to several moves, how many trips back to ATL and Mississippi and I had taken in it, how many rides my grandson Logan and I had taken in it and sitting in the bed of that truck I thought, I love it, That's My Truck!
And now it's going to be parked in the right driveway because, She's My Girl too. This extra time we have had has helped us to work through challenges that may have postponed our marriage or just stopped it all together. You can be friends, but converting to an every day relationship is extremely difficult for two "alpha" personalities. But with the help of our friend, marriage officiant and counselor Bo, we have turned the corner toward the walk of faith in each other God wants us to have. I love this girl too!
My point, I like that song, it is something that makes you smile because of the catchiness of the phrase, but when God gives you time, an excellent truck and a good woman, then it's your truck that needs to be parked in the driveway.
She's My Girl and That Is My Truck!
,When someone calls us a "good man" how do we react? For me, I have to lower my head and take a step back because compared to some of the really great men I have met or read about I just don't feel like I measure up. Even though today I am in a much better place, the evolution from bad man to
A Good Man leaves many scars.
Then again, what looks like A Good Man to some may turn out to be quite different. A man after God's own heart did many bad things. Our leaders whom we sometimes idolize make many bad decisions. Our Fathers may not act like a good man and often send us in a different direction. We see preachers and priests who are supposed to be our heroes fall in way too many cases.
On the other hand a couple of really good men in the Bible had great mothers, Jesus and John The Baptist. We know much about Mary and her angelic qualities, maybe less about Elizabeth, but we see the quality of their offspring. So we can talk about the influence of a father but how about a Godly mother and grandmother?
Countless men I have met in recovery talk about their grandmother's influence and prayers. Scripture points out at least once about a caring grandma. But for me, the one who comes just below the influence of a forgiving God is my Mom.
She was the one who kept believing in me even when my decisions were very poor. She was the one who showed me what God in the flesh was like, accountable yet encouraging, loving no matter what and always there to help me get back on track when I went off course. She never gave up on me, never stopped believing that one day I would be that good man she always saw inside of me.
They say behind every good man is a good woman but that may be an understatement. How about in the heart of A Good Man is the influence of a really good woman?
I think I just found another one!
As I was reading the apostle Paul's accounts of his visions and thorn, something spoke to my heart. This man who had to make a u-turn in his life to find the truth, was both blessed and cursed for it. Not really cursed in the literal sense, but more humbled because he was given great insight into how God works.
Before he was humbled and changed, he thought he knew it all. So if God chose to let him see things others didn't, then his prior pride in what he believed and thought was the only way, might make him think he was pretty special. In the program we call that stinking thinking.
Paul called his visions "surpassingly great revelations", and because of these he received a Spectacular Thorn! He lived in a realm in his faith where there were great highs and equally low lows by human standards. Through his roller coaster ride, he never let go of the bar of protection and grace that kept him on the ride of faith, and if he got a little full of himself, there was that thorn.
We are both blessed and cursed for our own spectacular failures through addiction, yet the ones who recover, and find the Lord see things quite differently than those who have a relatively smooth ride through life. Like Paul, we see things, and we appreciate things that much more now, but if we get a little cocky, there is always that thorn of our drug of choice or the new one we created to take its' place.
Yet, when reaching out to others who were equally as lost as we were, that thorn becomes a Spectacular Thorn that can be used as a testimony to the surpassingly great vision of recovery through Jesus Christ.
To play off a well known phrase, Got Thorns? We could use you, and so could our Lord!
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.