Surely this week's blog title is worthy of a country song. It is about the common man's struggle of trying to do the right thing when all his instinctive senses tell him that wrong is a better option. No problem with a little lie here and there, maybe just one drink, or possibly just look at a few of those pictures, or how about this: I just want to have fun!
We can pretty much talk ourselves into anything, including bad decisions. We all like to quote Paul in Romans 7 and the struggle he faced which mirrors ours, trying to do good when evil is right there with us. Maybe we think we can praise the lord out of these situations, but it is likely that this is a battle we will have to fight more than once. Hourly, daily, sometimes for way too many months or years.
The root of it is that self will has run riot over us and our instincts. We want to do right but we have never learned how to let go of our sins, our past and our character defects. We have never worked as they say "a practical program of action". We have not come to that place that is defined in 2 Corinthians 7:10.......
Godly sorrow brings repentance that leads to salvation and leaves no regret, but worldly sorrow brings death.
Regrets, that's what fuels the fire of thinking wrong. We want to fix everything when only God can because of the severity of consequences we have reaped. Regrets make us long for things we maybe should have never had. Garth Brooks says "thank God for unanswered prayer" and for us it should say something like "I have regrets yet, I long to be fulfilled". Being sorry to God means that we have turned everything over to him, lock, stock and barrel, no regrets, and he will fill those gaping holes of emptiness inside our souls with his mercy, grace and love.
My Wrong Way of Thinking Right will become the right way of thinking wrong, which translates to all of the non-country western song fans that when I think of doing wrong I will instead think of how much HE made me right!
No death, no regrets, just a complete salvation of my broken spirit. That's about as right as you can get!
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. Everyone who competes in the games goes into strict training. They do it to get a crown that will not last; but we do it to get a crown that will last forever. 1 Corinthians 9:24-25
We are not in the business of doing a ministry just to have it. When you are dealing with the constant threat of life and death you run to live, you run to daylight, you run to win. That ticking time bomb of addictive behavior could blow up at any minute, so we run to receive that prize that lasts forever. And, while we are running it, we run with purpose and passion.
That may sound pretty intense for a Thursday morning, but as life shortens for me, I realize that every moment of every day counts more urgently than ever. And if we can spend it being a positive influence on our families and the human race, we have accomplished one thing. But if we run to lift up the banner of Christ, we run the ultimate race, like the Olympics or World Cup of faith!
And, as we run, if we bring others along with us whose lives have been transformed in this running, we feel the hand of our ultimate coach on our shoulders constantly encouraging us to run with His purpose, which is always fulfilling. However, if we run for ourselves, and we see beside us things and trophies of running solo, we will never be fulfilled we will always want more, we will always run just to keep on running.
So, we must run to win in such a way that often feels like we are giving up a part of ourselves to someone else to help them keep pace with us. But we do so after the example of Jesus, who was always giving up something of himself to help others, but always keeping his eyes on the prize.
He ran to win, and so should we!
If filling the void were really as easy as doing some shots or smoking some dope, addicts would be the happiest, most fulfilled individuals in the world. Instead we wind up engaging in a pattern of self-destructive behaviors until the consequences become unavoidable and we find ourselves in addiction treatment. This is ultimately for the best, but the problem lies in the fact that sobriety itself does not always cure our need to fill that void. (Quoted from Amethyst, Nov. 24, 2015)
There is always a void, it does not escape any individual on this planet. Websters calls it "holding or containing nothing". I felt it the most in the middle of my addiction when I had no clue how to fill it, and I felt it again when I got the call my son had died, for which I did have an answer. That void, when not able to be filled with an answer leads to destruction.
It sabotages success, it ruins families, it prevents real love, it is a dangerous state of numbness that places us in the position in the exact middle of the chasm of uncertainty. If we are not careful that uncertainty gets too comfortable as we watch, in an altered state of mind, as the world goes by. The proverbial question then comes, "How do we fill that void?"
The easy answer is Jesus. Then again, the answer is always Jesus. But how we get to Jesus, how we come to believe is the ultimate key as to whether we stay in that chasm. If we see him just as God, just as a miracle working Santa Claus, just as another rebel who shook things up, or as a roadblock to having real fun, we never really get the point.
I am not sure how you will find your point, but mine happened when that Jesus became my personal savior, my best friend, my go to guy in any and all situations, and as I watched The Passion Of Christ several years ago, and tears flowed down my face, I knew that I had felt his pain, as he had always felt mine. He became the center of my life, not just a missing piece.
He not only filled the void, he filled my heart with passion, energy and a desire to serve, which also incidentally, fills that void. When you know beyond a shadow of a doubt that he is with you in the good, the bad and the ugly parts of life, that void becomes an object in your rear view mirror that sometimes appeared way larger than it really was.
But now it is reduced to "holding or containing nothing" that will not hold you back, or pull you down, because He is driving you forward!
Believe it or not, one of the first uses of what then was called Duck Tape was to reinforce cables on the Manhattan Bridge in New York. Makes you think about ever crossing over it, doesn't it? Later on it became Duct Tape during WWII when an assembly line worker came up with the idea to use it for sealing ammo cans up, and now today it's uses are unlimited. Or maybe not?
You just purchased your dream car, that 2002 Honda Civic with 190K miles, that $500 jewel of transportation. No problem that the motor mounts had gone out and were replaced by Duct Tape or that the cables were wrapped in Duct Tape or that that oil leak was patched up with Duct Tape or that the water hose was also patched up with a heavy dose of Duct Tape. It ran just fine despite it. Or so you thought until you drove it.
Now traveling down 85 at a modest speed of 75 to try out that special ride, smoke begins to come out of your heater vents, the Civic begins to stutter and shimmy and now in the middle lane surrounded by huge semi's you find yourself having buyers remorse.
So too, does a life that has been wrapped in the Duct Tape of money, drugs, alcohol and other temporary fixes come apart always at the most inopportune of times, especially in the middle of crisis. For lack of a more sober reference, Jesus spoke about this most appropriately in Matthew 9:16-17 in a way that had its usual multiple meanings:
No one sews a patch of unshrunk cloth in an old garment. For the patch will pull away from the garment, and a worse tear will result. Neither do men pour new wine into old wineskins. If they do, the skins will burst, the wine will spill, and the new wineskins will be ruined. Instead they will pour new wine into new wineskins, and both are preserved.
The only way that Civic will run properly is with new parts, replaced by a master mechanic who may cost you 5 times what that jewel of a ride was worth. In life, that old self of ours, run down and battered by waves of storms, can only be healed and led by a new way of thinking given to us by The master mechanic himself who could not be contained or comprehended by an old way of thinking. He can turn out a check engine light with a mere blink in that direction. And his services are virtually free, but you must come to him for the repair.
His name is Jesus, and He can be the new wineskin and new engine that powers us into a life of unlimited possibilities with an unlimited warranty. And you can set that Duct Tape aside when you do and use it only for what it was intended to be, a temporary fix. Especially comes in handy when you are trying to avoid those big semi's of heartbreak, despair and loss.
The Big Book of A.A. guides us into this as God is mentioned more than 277 times as a permanent solution to a patched up life, and tells us that if we find him we have a spiritual awakening, a new perspective, a new direction, that we just cannot contain, we must pass it on.
There is no mention of Duct Tape in that book.
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.