Writing al letter from prison to Philemon, the Apostle Paul urged the church that met in his home to forgive a runaway slave. Here is how he worded it if you have not read the account:
I appeal to you for my son Onesimus, who became my son while I was in chains. Formerly he was useless to you, but now he has become useful both to you and to me.
Resentments against others hold us back from loving ourselves and others, like the resentments parents may have to their children who become addicts or alcoholics. They drain us and our emotions. Those resentments don't punish the other person, they punish us. They become barriers to our enjoyment of the life God has given us to freely live. They become chains around our heart that lock up our ability to love.
Paul was saying you may have something against this man but he has changed from useless to useful and in that regard think of how many that have hurt us who have turned their lives around as well. In effect Christ cleaned our slate from our past, and our job after that cleansing is to do the same for others even though that may be the most difficult thing we will ever have to do.
But never as difficult as what he did on that cross - perspective is the prescription for healing!
Let me start with a quote from the chapter on We Agnostics from the Big Book of A.A. on page 55:
Actually we were fooling ourselves, for deep down in every man, woman, and child, is the fundamental idea of God. It may be obscured by calamity, by pomp, by worship of other things, but in some form or other it is there. For faith in a Power greater than ourselves, and miraculous demonstrations of that power in human lives, are facts as old as man himself.
All my life I have sought to find God, and in 1984 I finally found him. There were many things that led me to him, door knobs that opened new doors, chairs where I could sit in peace without chaos and learn, people who taught me about him and who manifested those Godly beliefs in the way they treated me with non-judgmental, loving attitudes, and in circumstances that could be nothing but God.
It was my journey, and each of us is given that right by God to take their own and find him. Sometimes it leads to other places than in the Bible, and in other places that don't call themselves believers but practice the elements of real faith with love, mercy and grace. Truth is, God is everywhere at all times and he is waiting for us to seek him and develop a relationship with him.
More than 2000 years ago He sent us a bridge to cross over to find him on the other side, a bridge named Jesus.
Many cross over it, some choose to stop half way over and turn back, and still others choose to never cross. The point is that to find that miraculous power that is demonstrated in the changed lives of human beings, it may be a good idea to follow the one who demonstrated those miraculous powers while here on earth.
And when you find him, you have found where God is, and then he dwells in you to point the way for others to follow. Nothing complicated, nothing scientific, and even Biblical prophecy said he wouldn't look like anything special. But man, did he have power, and it was a greater power than any other thing mankind has ever seen.
Consider him on your journey and watch his power start to work. It's a fact as old as man himself!
There are so many life moments that offer the question: which way should I go? Often, we are caught in emotions which cloud our choices or maybe we are too high on a mind altering substance to make a clear choice. Does logic overcome emotions or a clouded mind, or do we take some time to consult the one who knows the direction that is best for us - and for him, that has a distinct vision?
As a young man (feels like just yesterday) I did not often consider the consequences of others who may be affected by my change of direction. For sure, I never considered God's perspective on the situation. As I read now throughout the Bible I see people like Paul, Jonah and Abraham who were sent in directions they did not intend to go. In doing so, they walked by faith not a man made compass.
They did not know the outcomes, only that God had a change of plans for them. Most importantly, although in some cases very reluctantly, they went God's way. And when they arrived at their destination they saw why God sent them there. Inspired by some words Jen said at Real Talk Recovery last night, I reflected this morning on how the lord is changing our plans, our direction into a place I did not expect us to go with ATB.
This time, there is consideration for others, this time you can feel the presence of the Holy Spirit prompting the movement. There is no emotion other than joy that the creator, the one and only is prompting the change of direction into his desired place and time. He does it not only by dreams and prompting but also by confirmations
by others and events that occur.
No, ATB is not changing it's mission, nor our main location. But we could be changing the direction of where we are planting new seeds of His message. Stay tuned.
Only He knows for sure!
As for you, you were dead in your transgressions and sins, in which you used to live......Ephesians 2:1
It is a fact that towards the end of my alcoholic lifestyle I was truly a Dead Man Walking. Lost and without purpose there seemed to be little hope that things could turn around. Surely someone who reads this can identify. Then, with the help of some wise and Godly men I found grace, forgiveness and meaning.
In Ephesians Chapter 2 of the New Testament we find a symphony of grace, we find a chapter filled with the music that brings our life song alive, and we find the key to a transformed way to walk about this earth. It is a gift given to us despite our bad intentions and many significant errors that forms us into God's workmanship which plays beautiful music for the rest of the world to listen to.
As it says "he destroyed the barrier, the dividing wall of hostility" which of course was the law that we could never follow without screwing up and was nailed to the cross where that grace was found. But looking into it a little deeper, my hostility toward everyone including God after returning from war was my personal barrier between he and I. He destroyed it by love, multiplied into grace.
The chapter goes on to say that His purpose was to make one good man out of the two (the old dysfunctional me & the new man of function) to make the one at peace through the cross. He did it, God did it, and he has made me a conductor of a symphony of music that ATB is now playing with some other talented grace filled musicians. .
Much better than a Dead Man Walking!
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.