Over 2000 years ago Plato wrote these compelling words: "If the head and the body are to be well, you must begin with the soul, that is the first thing."
With news of the latest mass shootings, an ongoing ridiculous war that continues in Ukraine, along with controversy in our schools (the teacher of the year in Gwinnett just resigned in protest), and so many other issues that swirl around our world, we ask simply, what is the answer? Plato penned it, Jesus spoke of it - it's a soul issue.
It would solve gun control, abortion, hatred and the ugliness of mankind. God got so fed up with it that he destroyed most of humanity in a flood. But then, he gave us a way out, a way to change, a pathway for redemption and a gateway to grace. But to get there we have to be Fed Up with how we are living.
Jesus overturned the moneychangers tables when they disrespected his father. We can overturn anything using His power and formula for redemption if we quit talking about it and actually do something. An addict cannot quit by talking about it, it only "works if you work it" as the 12 Steps say, and as the two things our parents always told us agree, "Actions speak louder than words" and "God helps those who help themselves".
We cannot just sit around and hope God helps us we must act even if it requires painful changes. And here's where it begins as Jesus silenced one group of naysayers he spoke to another, and I am paraphrasing for modern emphasis. If you are fed up with your life and this world, here is a formula for change:
Love God with all your soul, love your neighbor likewise - everything hangs on this first thing, an issue of the soul
When we are fed up enough to let him feed us with his love, mercy and forgiveness, it changes everything else!
The In-Between Zone
"Sometimes, to get from where we are to where we are going, we have to be willing to be in-between." Quote from The Life Recovery Bible Commentary
In the Korean conflict and in Viet Nam they called it the DMZ. A de-militarized zone where no combat was allowed. It stood in both cases in between the north and south that were at war with each other, and was a place where not much was happening. In our lives we call that a lull, in between little action and lots of action, in between addiction and sobriety, in between relationships or deals, etc. etc. etc.
Fact is that unless we have the understanding and patience to exist in the In-Between Zone we have the tendency to try to make things happen rather than let them happen in God's timing. Often times we need to let go of where we were to get to where we are going during which time we are like a caterpillar in a cocoon undergoing a metamorphosis. The In-Between must exist like a bridge and cannot be interrupted or the intended destination is never reached.
Think about it, in business, in relationships, in an adventure like hunting or fishing. we made a move too soon, made a noise in the tree stand, pulled a lure up too quickly, there are a thousand things we can think of to make this point. If we have done everything we could have done and it is time to wait, then it is time to master the In-Between.
We pray, we meditate, we deliberate, we suffer because we can't control anything, even our propensity to jump into something, but we wait. I love Psalm 40's beginning: I waited patiently for the Lord, he turned to me and heard my cry.
It's gut-wrenching, it can be painful for those of us who are fixers, but if God knows the right next move for us why would we ever move too quickly? Human nature for sure, but if we take upon ourselves His nature the game changes. Next part of Psalm 40: He lifted me out of the slimy pit, out of the mud and mire; he set my feet on a rock, and gave me a firm place to stand.
To grow, to prosper, to make the right choices we may have to stand firmly for awhile, until He tells us to move!
No One Left Behind
I learned this as a Marine, we don't leave our fallen comrades behind. But what does that really mean? It means we will do everything to bring home our wounded or dead even if it means risking our own life. One thing to say it, another thing to do it.
Yesterday while reading John 10 in it Jesus spoke mainly about shepherd's and sheep and how he knew them and they knew him, and how he would be the good shepherd and lay down his life to protect them. He said this in verses 28-30:
I give them eternal life, and they shall never perish; no one can snatch them out of my hand. My Father, who has given them to me, is greater than all; no one can snatch them out of my hand. I and the Father are one!
This inflamed the Jews in the crowd enough that they picked up stones to stone him to death. He was making bold statements that they could not handle. He was God, he was the answer, he would die for those who believed him, especially the marginalized, and when they believed in who he was, they would be his forever, no one could take them away.
As a Marine we believed we were elite, the best serving in the best branch of service ever created. We would die for what we believed in freedom as well as our country, and our brothers would not be snatched away by anyone else, dead or alive. We rolled with confidence no matter what obstacle we faced.
At ATB we strive to put all of this into practice for those we serve with one exception: we are not God, so unlike him we cannot save everyone, But that doesn't stop us from trying because we want to Leave No One Behind. However, we do introduce everyone to the one who is God, even if they want to stone us after we speak of Him.
After all, he plainly said, if we become part of his flock. no one gets snatched away, no one is left behind. That part we can put into practice and assure you that no drug, no alcohol or nothing else that comes against any of us will snatch us away from him.
He said it, I believe it. Let's roll in His confidence in us. OOORAH!
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.