"Oh Lord, dear Lord, just send me a sign! Anything, just something to let me know you are there, to let me know whether to go left or go right, to begin this, to stop that, to choose this or select that. Or maybe Lord, I'll just wait for you here and not move until you move me yourself!"
Have you ever been there? And after making those requests looked back and laughed because what started out to be a simple request became a menu of tasks that even a divine God could not comprehend. It became so ridiculous that you forgot you asked and then suddenly, without notice God showed up. Not once, but twice, not twice but more than that, and then he kept showing up because the request you made was not a selfish one, but one he wanted you to make all along.
This was that week for me, but it was weeks, months, years in the making. Dreams, ideas that you have that seem way out there, but they are not way out of God's range after all. They are in fact, those things that require a vision of divine intent, and for that He gives us Divine Confirmation!
Divine intent is that what you ask for lines up with the will of God. Prayers for a family member to accept Christ, for the courage to share your salvation story, for the strength to make it through a trial of faith, or the desire to improve on your ministry, and other events that may look to you as impossible, but become very possible in the hands of God Almighty.
Of the many things that happened so far this week, I had prayed just to be strong and courageous which is just asking for what is written in the Bible (a sure fire way to get a confirmation, just repeat positive scripture). A number of things already happened to confirm that God was working on me, and then I woke up this morning, turned to June 28 in my devotional and this was the topic, Joshua 1:1-9:
His Part and Our Part - "Arise go over this Jordan....I will not leave you nor forsake you. Be strong and courageous....."
That was the theme, and this caveat at the bottom, Where God guides, God provides! I believe that when the good Lord reads you back what you read to him, that is a confirmation that He is with you. Not his voice, not a burning bush, not a miracle, but just a simple confirmation that your thinking lines up with his will for you.
I could share more, but so could you, as this certainly happens for us all. But when it does, it not only encourages our faith and our intent to serve, it fires up the rockets of faith to help us soar to another level of spiritual altitude.
That is most definitely the result of Divine Confirmation!
Last night was another joy of ministry, lots of different kind of folks coming together to Celebrate, great food, great message and some volunteers who played a huge role in the success. Probably 90% of the 100 plus folks who showed up were in recovery and you could tell that the meal they had may have been the best one they had in quite awhile.
Not just the food, but the menu of heartfelt messages which fed the mind, music that fed the spirit, and the fellowship of kindred passengers on a similar journey who were becoming Victorious, which fed the body. That's what we look to do at ATB, feed all the aspects of a well rounded new life, mind, body and spirit, with God at the center of our existence.
But when we do these things I look for something different. I look for the volunteers that make it possible, the people who pay a price that is not for themselves, but for others. I do not look always at who made the mess (literally and figuratively), but who sticks around to help clean it up. If we look at the price Christ paid for us, we could certainly say, he cleaned up our mess, and continues to do so every waking moment of our lives.
At the end of the festivities last night there were only a few who stayed to clean up though several others volunteered. And then there was only one or two with me. That made me think, we all love to celebrate, but only a few, or maybe even only one, are with us to make that celebration possible.
No matter what happens, no matter whether we are celebrating or grieving, even if we are down and out, or if we have totally made a wreck of things, God is with us, there to help us celebrate, and then help us clean up the mess we may have made. Thought about this verse in Psalms:
God is our refuge and strength, an ever-present help in trouble. Psalm 46:1
Can't think of anyone else better to help in Cleaning Up The Mess
It is certainly true, we have learned it from childhood, there is a Santa Claus right? Make a list, check it twice, he'll find out if we are naughty or nice. Better watch out, better not pout, better not cry I'm telling you why, you remember don't you? Our parents, as we did when we became parents, spun that myth whatever way was needed to heighten the Christmas hype.
In truth, throughout our lives we have thought of God in a similar way, that is until we have experienced his presence. We love the presents, but the presence is what makes the difference between knowing about God, and knowing God himself. And when we get to really know him, we begin to see his movement in our lives every day, and we get to feel the nature of God change our hearts and our soul from the inside out. What a present!
Think about it this way for a moment. Feelings pop up on us in a variety of times that we do not expect. Maybe a song, a situation, or a person triggers emotions that we never expected. To an addict this is a real trigger to relapse. But if we have the presence, then we are able to fight through the unexpected to get to His expected outcome, peace in the midst of a storm. His presence prepares us for anything we may ever face, it is the gift that keeps on giving.
I will take His Presence Over Presents because one lasts forever, and the other lasts as long as it amuses us.The presence is felt every day in all the little things around us, some that we have been overlooking. People mention similarities of things you too are going through, you turn on the TV and hear a sermon that seems like it was made that day for you, someone quotes a scripture you were just reading, you look at your clock and the time matches your Birthday for several days in a row, and you suddenly realize God is trying to speak to you directly, what a gift?
And, if we feel that presence, we are able to far better understand and use His presents. When others hear us speak about our faith they see in us an authentication of the presence of a living and involved God.
No lists, no checking it twice, just a plain simple truth. There is no Santa Claus, but there is an awesome God!
To some, who have grown up in relatively normal environments, doing the basic things of life is not a problem. You wake up, make your bed, brush your teeth, walk the dog, show up for work on time, and save a little portion of your paycheck every week. To others, those of us who considered ourselves "special", we sleep late, let others make our bed, lose our teeth from addiction use, let the dog run wild, may or may not go to work, and not only spend all of our paycheck, but try to get into yours.
To us "others", the ordinary is a curse word. Who could possibly thrive in a world like this being ordinary? Everything around us screams to be different, unusual and attention grabbing. Yes, to be ordinary is not to be extraordinary. Or is it?
The backbone of any organization, military service or church are those who are ordinary. The people who clean the bathrooms, serve the food, park the cars, make the coffee, fix the plumbing- these are some of the "grunts" who pave the way for others to succeed. Not very often do we see them get a trophy or a plaque or a thank you, and not very often do we see the leaders being the ordinary. The leaders feel we have to excel for you to follow, when in truth, we have to Master The Ordinary.
People ask me all the time, how do you do it, how is this ATB continuing to grow, and they think I have done something unusual to make it so. In truth, here is the most valuable thing I have learned, and it is what I deserve no credit for, and for what God deserves every praise. I have learned how to be good at being ordinary.
At North Atlanta, when the recovery ministry exploded there in the early 2000's, others were helping to bring new folks in, word of mouth was building, but the Lord spoke to my heart and said stop trying to be extraordinary and just serve ordinarily, and watch what happens. So I prepared
a topic, set up the room, made the coffee, bought the donuts, drove the van both ways to pick up extra folks, drove them back afterward, then cleaned up.
In roughly 90 days the only thing I still had to do was prepare the topic or get someone else to lead that particular night. We had doubled, tripled and someone else had volunteered to be ordinary and serve in one of those other capacities. So I decided to stand in the parking lot and greet each person who came off the vans personally before the meeting. Just another something ordinary. Then we quadrupled. Sound like ATB?
In Acts 4, they said this about Peter and John after they had given a sermon and healed a cripple: When they saw the courage of Peter and John and realized that they were unschooled, ordinary people, they were astonished and took note that these men had been with Jesus.
Doesn't take big plans or extraordinary words to bring others to the Lord, just takes being very good at being ordinary!
There are days that we wonder if we belong on this planet because the events of the day are disturbing and alarming. We wonder if our fellow man is really our fellow man or some aliens that have invaded in the last 24 hours. It reminds us of the words in that old song, "Oh Lord you know I have no friend like you, If heavens not my home then Lord what will I do."
And then, there are days we treasure because we see those Random Acts Of Kindness that make you believe God is among us and that the givers of this world are overwhelming the takers. These acts are spontaneous love poured out like the greatest nectar of unselfish grace, which reminds us that God has extended his territory to a heaven on earth.
Over the past few weeks I have seen people whom society has given up on do some incredibly good things to help their fellow man. It motivates me to be a better man, even when all the better has been used up for that particular day. Yesterday though may have been the best. In order to bring it to life for you I have to be transparent with some of the raw details.
A young African American man who, by his own words, says he is recovering from addiction and a homosexual lifestyle, answered a question I posed to the group with a total breakdown of emotions, which led him to talk about the more than difficult relationship with his father. His tears led to more opening up which I cannot share, but an amazing thing happened while he was talking. A white woman, with not a whole lot of clean time walked over to him and hugged him while he shook from the emotion of it all and as he finished talking through it, she held on until he was done.
To me this was so kind and compassionate, but the best was yet to come. Later, after the meeting, I spoke with him, and he said that was the first time a woman had held him showing him that kind of unconditional love since he came out of that lifestyle, and it was literally life changing for him. The rest of the details are so very complicated and would take us off point, but lets just say, this young man was highly affected by this act while he was hurting the most. Getting it all out for him was a cleansing of his spirit.
I drove away with near tears in my eyes just praising the Lord for showing up in such an incredible way. But, on the other hand, it doesn't surprise me because Jesus hung out with many hurting people and his compassion helped change their lives. He is just using us in the same way if we give him the opportunity to do so. He demonstrated it, Paul took it to heart:
To the weak I became weak, to win the weak. I have become all things to all people so that by all possible means I might save some.
1 Corinthians 9:22
I am taking "all things" to mean that sometimes we have to get down and dirty, right where people are at, even if it makes us feel uncomfortable, to display Random Acts Of Kindness. We do it for Him, we do it for them, and then it changes us compl
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.