What does it take, my friend, to make today a better day
Than the trials and failures of that time from yesterday?
How do I face the mirror through the pain and shame?
Only through the one who knows me by name.
How do I make sense of the days I wasted
Or of the moments that my family sat devastated?
When do I feel the freedom to try again?
Only through the one who calls me his friend.
What does it take to walk on a better path
Than the one that went through such bitter wrath?
Why did I not see what I should easily have seen?
Only through the eyes that came to redeem.
Where do I find rest for my thoughts of despair?
Where do I go when I need to clear the air?
What does it take to calm my wandering soul?
Only through the grace of the one who makes me whole.
And when do I see the answer to that prayer?
And know that he is really truly always there?
What does it take to forgive and to love?
Only through the one who lives far above.
Just a few of my thoughts in a poem this week as I reflect on how awesome it is to be on the right side of wrong. That wrong that seemed to follow me for so many years has been reduced to a marginal possibility by a God who never gave up on me and will never give up on you.
The solution to virtually any problem or addiction is so very simple- lay it at the foot of the cross and let the Lord free you from the chains and bondage that held you back from freedom.
He delivers! He asks that your tip to him be your service to mankind. What a thrill!
Lots of bad weather in the ATL this summer, rain, thunder, lightening, flooding, trees falling, events postponed. I experienced it first hand this week with a tree falling in our driveway and a 2 1/2 hour rain delay at the Cubs-Braves game. No way to eliminate all these storms, just have to find a way to take shelter during them.
That's the problem with addiction, we take shelter in all the wrong places and never learn how to ride out the storm. In the storms that come up in our lives, we evacuate the premises and escape into a bottle or pill. Instead of staying safe, we stay stoned which for awhile kept us safe but not anymore. Just this week I have seen several overdoses lead to death. Not much guarantee of shelter there.
Psalm 27 says: For in the day of trouble he will keep me safe in his dwelling; he will hide me in the shelter of his sacred tent and set me high upon a rock.
While it initially seems difficult to seek shelter in a God we can't always see or may have never known, the pill and bottle offer no real safety, only more bad weather. It is when we come to that realization that we can be healed, we can learn about a new shelter. In simple truth, His shelter keeps me safe, my shelter keeps me stoned.
Add this possibility to the other: He who dwells in the shadow of the most high will rest in the shadow of the almighty. Psalm 91:1!
Do this, walk outside in the sun and check out your shadow, see how big it can really get. Then look up, look around and see how really big God's shadow is. Mine only allows me to remain within my own dysfunctional realm of possibility, His extends unlimited potential to explore life to its fullest potential.
My shadow, His Shadow - which one really calms the storms? My shelter, His shelter, -which one keeps me safe?
The answer, we need to replace the shadow we are walking in. It will be shelter even when stormy weather is ahead!
It has been an awesome time these last few months getting re-involved with the Across The Bridge Ministry and expanding our outreach into two great recovery houses. Looking out into the eyes of these folks you can see how they are searching for some hope and encouragement to live a better way.
What has surprised me the most is how open and receptive they are to learning about God. I see them Moving God's Way by the way they speak and retain some of the things we present. My thoughts are to plant seeds about the way God really is (merciful, loving, full of grace) and to help block out the weeds of their past that may have shown him otherwise. When I speak about Jesus they know who I am talking about and many have had prior spiritual experiences, but like the Apostle Paul, they keep doing things they shouldn't do and ask why?
We have had some incredibly emotional meetings, and we have bonded in many ways, all around moving forward in life not backward. Truth be told, most folks struggling with addiction are wonderful people who have just gone down the wrong path. We have done many bad things to ourselves and others, but the goal is to let the grace of God do its work and change our lives.
In the process of doing all of this, I have found myself Moving God's Way in such a new and refreshing way, mostly about me just paying more attention to the voice of the Holy Spirit pointing me in the right direction. Mostly about really putting myself in their shoes and understanding how to present the Good News in a way they would understand. And mostly about feeling totally blessed by these folks who light up like children when they pick up a chip or you remember their name or what they asked you to pray about.
This ministry is God's not mine, and there are so many wonderful people involved. But I must say that there is a mighty big smile on my face just watching God use us to reach into hearts and souls who need help.
And I always remember that set of eyes looking at me used to be mine, lost and looking for hope.
,I am sure there are very few folks in this world who wake up with a desire to lose at anything they do. Most of us are looking forward to a new adventure, new challenge, a new opportunity to do something great somewhere, some way.
Yet in the world that I live in, I see people making choices that are destroying themselves and many folks around them. Possibly you too are living in that same world, you just don't know it. After all, the addicts are not all in the halfway houses, many are in our own houses, many in the houses of higher office, many in churches and church offices. It has become a quiet epidemic.
Living To Win means we pay attention to a most valuable verse in 1 Corinthians 9: Do you not know that in a race all the runners run, but only one gets the prize? Run in such a way as to get the prize. We know we cannot possibly run every day to max effort or we will crash and burn very soon. But we can run toward doing good to ourselves and away from destruction. The prize from that is that every day we are Living To Win and not living to lose our families, jobs and sanity.
The real prize is waking up every day and letting God lead our way toward success feeling that he truly walks and talks with us throughout that day. He is the power that can restore us and any of our neighbors to sanity. In this crazy world of instants we must look beyond the immediate fix to a long term goal to win, and set aside those things that drag us down on the way.
Jesus himself was the author of Living To Win because he made a public spectacle of all the things we ever have done and ever will do wrong on an old wooden cross just so we would have a clear path to the finish line. Can we see it ,or is our vision blurred by the instant fix?
Run, my friend, run in such a way as to get the prize!
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.