This is a first: Solomon, Ecclesiastes, Jesus and Bob Marley in the same blog to make a point.! Stay with me.....
Have you had enough of using?
Have you had enough of not feeling like you are enough?
Have you had enough of what you needed to live a sober life and be happy and free from addiction?
In plain words, are you sick and tired of being sick and tired? Thousands of years ago Solomon wrote frustrating words about "the eye never has enough of seeing, nor the ear its fill of hearing" - he could never get enough despite having everything. He kept doing more to get more.
We too, tend to keep trying to achieve and be everything on our own and add God on for the leftovers because we can handle it, we are taught to be self sufficient, only to realize it has gotten out of hand, and we have gone beyond human limits to extremes. Then Solomon comes to his senses and finds a key: When God gives us what we need and we accept what our lot in life is then we seldom reflect on what else we need, and instead become happy for what we have.
You see, he has no limits, but his limits for us are always enough. Take the Samaritan woman at the well, she of 5 marriages and living with her boyfriend. She could never get enough or thought she could be good enough. But Jesus set her right by speaking to her when no other Jewish person would, then asked her for help - he validated her, which is what he does for us, even at our lowest point - he speaks to us today in what he said to her.
If you drink that well water you will be thirsty again, but if you drink my water of life, you will have living water and never thirst (for any form of addiction) again. In other words, don't worry about achieving it all yourself or you will never have enough, just put your hope in me and you will always have enough!
So, we will let Bob Marley take us toward home in this blog: Here's a little song I wrote, you might want to sing it note for note, don't worry, be happy. In every life we have some trouble, but when you worry you make it double, don't worry, be happy. As Solomon says, because God keeps him occupied with gladness of heart, not because he keeps worrying about what he doesn't have.
Then Jesus again said: Don't worry about tomorrow, for tomorrow will worry about itself. Each day has enough trouble of it's own. Was Bob Marley thinking the same thing? Don't know but I know God will supply enough, make us feel like enough and give us enough to live on that we remain happy, even in the midst of trouble.
As we close, sing it and remember who the original author was: Don't worry be happy, you have enough, and He, not Bob, (but thank you for the song) will make sure of it!
It was moments of electricity! Last week at Real Talk Recovery we got in circles to talk about life changing situations where God had shown up. Incredible stories by people who had been locked in an addictive culture.
One woman shared that she had just entered a dope house when a smoke bomb was thrown in (not by police) and the place quickly caught fire. She jumped out of a second story window to safety but everyone else perished in the fire. Accident or the providence of God?
There were more enlightening stories of escape from death, an overdose and countless bad moments, all this in just one of a half dozen circles with 5-10 people. While it's easy for people to talk about solutions to drug and alcohol problems who are outside the circle so to speak, those who are in it experience these types of things almost daily living on the edge.
The question is why? And, the answers would take many conversations to come forth. But here is the problem which can be resolved. Change the circle you live in. We get so caught up in having to be a certain way or living a certain lifestyle that we forget there is a way out that leads to circles like the one we were in where truth, forgiveness and understanding prevail.
Jesus created a circle of 12 men and selected women he would operate his ministry in that helped to create a new culture and offered redemption from any wandering lifestyle. Once he passed on to heaven, he left behind his Spirit literally, and figuratively in those closest to him - his circle. They helped change the world.
Today, we the recovered, we the redeemed from addiction, we the freed from sin are the circle that offers hope and encouragement to those who have barely escaped death. We need to remember to keep that circle open to anyone who wants to join us because the solution exists within the circle not just in the programs.
In that circle where the Lord is present, is where freedom is found!
The decisions we have to make about who to help and whether we are actually helping or enabling are often very difficult and heart wrenching. Our first thoughts as a Christian are to help everyone, but not everyone gets helped when we think we are helping.
There was the man on the side of the road with that sign, you know the one that says "Need work" or "No food". We all have differing opinions as to what to do, but quite possibly helping that person randomly when the Spirit speaks to us is obedience that transcends a perceived notion, and may be benefiting us as well to do it. What we did was right, what they do with it is between them and God.
Do you remember that scripture in Matthew that ends with "Truly I tell you, whatever you did not do for one of the least of these, you did not do for me"? Well this week a couple asked me for a tent to protect them while in the woods after recent relapses - I said no. (Next day they bought their own tent) Then they asked me for food, which we provided enough to last until Monday when they can get to a rehab, and only after I spoke at length with both of them.
Here's a key to making a difference. Think the way God responds to our prayers: he doesn't always give us what we want, but he supplies what we need. And, when you think of it, he knows we may squander some or all of what he gives us, but he gives it to us anyway, whether as a test or because he just loves to give.
Get to know the recipient of your gift if possible, then you will know what they may do with it. And if they don't use it wisely, then we learn, but we also ring up credits with the ultimate giver who is smiling I am sure when we act like Him.
Who knows, by giving we may actually be making more of a difference in ourselves!
In my world, finding the time to go on vacation is not easy, plus the effects of COVID-19 make it difficult to travel
where I would like to be - the beach. Maybe you have dealt with this issue now or in the past and it has hurt you. It behooves us to find an alternative which allows stress relief without mind altering substances.
I found one, actually more than one, but this one allows me some sunshine and meditation. It's sitting in the back of my pickup truck facing the sun with virtually no one around, in the parking lot of the ATB building. Now please, do not rush to be a part of this, but understand this is my beach - for now!
Get a tan, have some conversation with the Lord and listen for instructions. Very relaxing, extremely stress free and totally priceless - really it costs nothing. Actually I got this from a reliable source, Jesus himself. When he was tired and stressed, he found a place to go off and pray, he found his proverbial beach.
Truth of the matter is that burnout can be just as harmful as not doing enough. And even truer is that when we operate on our own power without plugging into the ultimate power source, we find we have a weak battery so to speak. Especially when we are trying to serve others, we can become angry, judgmental, short with words and many other symptoms of doing too much, when we use that personal battery up.
We have to find our power from above, and find our beach wherever we can or like a car without a relevant battery, we won't start. And, for sure, we won't finish.
Finding my beach is essential in helping you find yours!
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.