This has been a most difficult week for Texas, reminding me of the day to day suffering of many others who just feel like today they are Under Siege from every direction, and they are looking for higher ground. Of course, millions of dollars and man hours will be spent recovering from this disaster, but for those aforementioned others how much will be spent on them?
While we rally around each other and pat ourselves on the back as Americans for always being there when disaster strikes, how about those we face on a daily basis? Are we really there for someone else in the nitty gritty sometimes dirty time of hurt and pain?
To the normal person not affected by this, it surely does not seem like there is a sense of urgency until the flood water backs up to our own house. It is human nature to applaud others, but what action are we taking to get involved with the folks around us who truly need the help of those who have been blessed?
Jesus confronted the rich young ruler who had it all together, gave him a road map to heaven, and rich young ruler rejected it. Basically Jesus said, help others with all you have been blessed with, then come follow me. Maybe the RYR had not read Job where all he had lost had been restored or known that no matter how much you give God, he gives you back more, pressed down shaken together more.
Every day, not just on the major national disaster days, people need the help.of those who have been given much. Just think if we could all pitch in to help in whatever way possible to those hurting daily, how much of a difference it would make in our world wide relationships.
There might be a whole lot less people living daily Under Siege!
,After back to back meetings where I handed out coins and tokens to mark recovery time, I thought about explaining just exactly why we do this. To some it may seem very childish but in reality it is a simple way of marking progress. Because folks are coming back from so far away, these "chips" represent the days/months since they decided to quit drinking/using and are often the last defense to a relapse.
Sounds strange? Please let me explain. For years a woman in our group spoke of how she took her keys to go get in the car to go to a bar to ease her pain after about a year clean. When she looked at them before putting the key in the ignition, she saw the key chain we gave her for 9 months clean, and it made her think, is this worth giving up all that time?
Tonight a man spoke of how the footprints and praying hands medallions played a major part in his 60 days clean, and I thought immediately What's In Your Pocket? What do any of us carry around to remind us to stay on a good path? Maybe a cross, maybe a key chain with a picture of a loved one, or one of these recovery tokens that we cling to so mercifully when tempted.
They don't cost much, but these mementos save a whole lot. That's why when you see someone pick up a year or more, you stand and cheer because you know the battles they've had to face. When you count up at least a half dozen other chips they have picked up to get there, you can see the impact that this simple reward system has. It is a milestone that put together represents 8,760 hours of sober living.
To a recovering addict that is an eternity worked 365 days one day at a time, often seconds at a time, just to stay clean and not do anything destructive. When you reach in that pocket and feel that $2 token, it becomes a reminder that you have worked way too hard to turn back now.
It's not worth anything in a pawn shop, but it's a million dollar token when it saves your life!
Yesterday was a normal Tuesday for me, except that I seemed to be running late. Heading to Step By Step for a mid afternoon meeting, I was a little on edge about my time, especially since I had to get the donuts for the group, and that is always critical.
I decided to take a book I had mistakenly ordered, the Large Print 12 Steps and 12 Traditions to give away to one of our participants, so I laid it on the drivers seat face up. Coming up Sugarloaf Parkway there was the usual construction with one lane closed ahead. I was getting pretty agitated with all the right laners not paying attention to the signs and trying to cut in front of me, naturally more because of my time constraints. I was growing more agitated by the moment and becoming late.
Finally I turned up a side street leading me to my final destination, and as I was watching many school buses pass I lost track of my speed even though I had gotten a ticket on this road a few years ago. It is actually quite a speed trap, and by the time I remembered that the officer was in front of me waving me over. Now, I am really going to be late.
He asked for my license only, leaned in on my passenger side (when was the last time a cop approached you from that side?), and asked if I knew the speed limit. Yes officer, 35 and 45. He then said I was doing 52 in that 35 zone so now I am thinking no meeting at all, much less donuts.
By the grace of a generous God, he then asked why I was in such a hurry. I said I lost track of my speed because I was running late to a 12 Step meeting at 2 O'Clock. He looked down at his watch, then at that passenger seat, I am sure he saw that mis-ordered Large Print Book, which said 12 Steps and 12 Traditions on it, then said to me, "Okay, you get a free pass today just stop speeding."
I am pretty sure I don't need to recap the lessons in all of this since you are highly intelligent, but I want to add something very important. We never know whether a mistake on our part can be turned into a victory by God, so please never stop believing God can make chicken salad out of chicken soup in any situation.
Oh yes, I gave away that Large Print Book to bless someone else, turns out it saved me more than 10 times what it was worth!
Another year to send the kids off to school and watch as they transform from summer joy to the "drudgery" of schoolwork. I can remember so well how I cherished those vacation and play times ,and just how much fun it was to be a kid. Maybe we all look back thinking of how carefree and simple life was then compared to our adult responsibilities.
Since those times our path has been carved, and we live with whatever consequences we have chosen to take. We learned the difference between right and wrong, maybe got a degree, but some of us chose to get extra education in the field of recreational drugs and almost acceptable alcohol consumption. Some of us were apt to eat way too much to decide what we liked and had multiple relationships that all went bad, in most cases because of us and poor choices.
Our education in the field of life was a disaster. So where do we go from here?
Transformation from who we decided to be and who God wants us to be. It's as simple as Allstate says, he is "the good hands people", put your life in the hands of the transformer and life begins anew with a different purpose. No longer do we have to fill ourselves up with things that destroy us, even though we initially thought they were just part or our education. But we went way too far.
If you've followed The Transformers movie series you have seen cars, trucks and suvs transform from vehicles to a weapons. In truth a few of us have become weapons of mass destruction to our families and others, but more bluntly, to ourselves. For sure, not the intentions for us of a loving grace-filled God.
His intention, at whatever point we start over, is that his power, his educational life principles and his redeeming love will make us transform into a lighthouse to help show the way to others who have lost their way. Come to think of it, a transformer supplies a whole bunch of power to a whole bunch of people.
As long as we are in God's good hands, we are a beacon of his light!
I love it when I wake up singing in the morning (not literally, but in my heart)! Let me amend that, I do sing sometimes early and it can usually reflect my mood for the day. Bill Withers "Lovely Day" and an assortment of spiritual classics like "This Is The Day" highlight my interior playlist.
From having watched so many kids programs I will also occasionally remember Mr. Rogers "It's A Beautiful Day In The Neighborhood".
We all have a song to sing that reflects our moods and who we are. Mary sang a love song about her child, Song Of Songs reflects the mood of romance. Most popular singers write about their life moments that matter and if you are a Jazz freak like me, you can feel the mood of the soul even in an all instrumental song.
But I have a new favorite now, sung the last two weeks in our meetings by a man who had several appearances on American Idol but now finds himself battling addiction recovery. When he sings it you can feel the pain, see the joy and re-live the story. The song is......
The Night Jack Daniels Met John 3:16
You can envision the lyrics, but when he sang I thought about the other people in the rooms and their battle against their own personal demons, and I thought about my own and how far God has brought me from that pit of despair. If you were to make a point of that song it would certainly be the devil has no shot against John 3:16, and we have every hope that the most popular Bible verse of all time is a song we can keep on singing every day until it sinks into the fabric of our being.
For God so loved us.....and he always does despite our slips and bumps in the road.....and I imagine up there he is singing his own song about us, no record of him ever singing but it may go something like this.........
You Are So Beautiful To Me....can't you see!
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.