Under The Influence
What are the influences that control our lives? Money, Power, Sex, and Popularity are but a few possibilities. Another of course, is the influence of God's Holy Spirit and walking in the flow of His grace.
Recently, I did some meetings on this topic and some honest talk came from it. A book was written about this and it suggested there are myths and realities of addiction recovery. Here are a few myths:
Once you have come to an addictive mindset you can control your using.
I can quit anytime I want.
It's everyone else's fault I am using.
The devil made me do it (RIP Flip Wilson)
Of course common logic, which we don't often use while in addiction, dispels those four, but nevertheless they are convenient excuses to do what we want to do. As a practical example, think of the man or woman providing the income for the family that spends all his or her time at work under the guise that they need more money for this and that while the kids at home are left unloved and uneducated about life. Sure, we need money and many have to work 2-3 jobs just to get by, but when money is our major influence things tend to go haywire.
For the love of money is the root of all kinds of evil. 1 Tim 6:10
Not money, but the love of money, just like a heroin addict falls in love with a needle, or a cocaine addict loves that crack pipe. Addiction to wrong influences causes the door to evil to open, and then it opens and opens, until it is wide open. On the other hand, coming under God's influence opens the door in a different way.
As the Israelites were leaving Egypt behind, the Lord gave them a formula how to remain under his influence without looking back to their slavery (addiction is just that - slavery), in Deuteronomy 11:8-12. In summary, he said, do what I ask of you, I will give you strength, provide what you need such as a land of milk and honey and while you go through the mountains and valleys of life I will be with you, and watch over your life.
While to you and I that would sound absolutely great in theory, we often ignore those words and head in our own self-will direction. But, here are the absolute words from that passage that have turned my life around and re-directed my influence:
But the land that you are crossing the Jordan to take possession of is a land of mountains and valleys that drinks rain from heaven. Updated to today, that is the crossover from addiction to recovery, from slavery to freedom, and that phrase drinks rain from heaven equates to the living water Jesus said to the woman addicted to relationships that would cause her to be thirsty no more.
Bang! Addictions gone, money, power, sex and popularity all put into perspective and in the amount that God chooses to bless us with which will be enough! We walk in the Spirit of confidence and assurance that we will always have what we need even if today is not as good as tomorrow because in the land we possess under His rule, there is always enough rain to drink for us all.
Boom! Maybe that is a better word than bang because God blows up every myth that we need to keep working for more, doing more and being more because with Him we are more than enough!
If we want to be happy, under THE influence of Him is where we want to be.
Taking A Toll
Right now we seem to be in the middle of a storm. Part of it we were victims of and the rest we have created. The fundamental elements of our health, security and traditions are at risk all at once. We are challenged on several levels that have impacted the status quo. And, it's taking its toll on our freedom and our economy.
My point in this blog is not to change the world only to make a few observations about how I feel. First, I am angry, angry that we cannot treat each other like God has asked us to. It has been that way for thousands of years, and it will take many more to impact fundamental changes. But I am also hopeful at the same time that each one of us can make a huge difference with a few simple changes to our attitudes that reflect the mindset of Christ.
And I am sad, that the next generation may experience major turmoil before the storm subsides. I have been in the Marines both at war in Viet Nam and as an occupying force in Washington, DC during the riots after the MLK assassination. I have seen way too up close and personal conflict that has cost lives, property and has influenced major change. When it's time to rebuild the roots of the original cause of human conflict run deep and require tolerance and acceptance to heal. May God grant us those things.
And maybe, we needed this storm, because the fast pace of life needed to slow, and oppression of others not the same color or gender needs to be removed. After the rain and thunder come sunshine.
And the one element of reconciliation that is needed most to heal is son-shine! We need Him.
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.