If you look up at a clear starry sky at night, seeing so may different sizes, shapes, and images, could you imagine the complications of putting such a universe together? I cannot fathom God, or of everything he thinks about, and how different he is than us, but I can understand the simplicity of his main message to us, trust in me and everything is going to be alright.
The Wonder Of It All is how complex each of us is, as if we were a walking, talking, mini universe! My take on those of us in recovery from addiction is that we are a multiple universe of contradictions, but a thing of beauty once we work through the ionosphere of how we became so dysfunctional. We peel layers off daily as we work through the Steps and our relationship with God to find the stars within us that can shine.
The Wonder Of It All is that we can get to another place beyond what most of us have been used to doing from the time we were kids. Our own families have passed down the bloodline of addiction or in many cases have helped us begin our journey by using with us. It is as if we have been shot into space to another planet when we begin to heal, to recover, and the only way we can survive the new atmospheric pressure is to bring into us the Spirit of the living God.
Having baptized 3 very different kind of folks this past month, with 3 very different kinds of stories, I feel humbled in my own skin just to realize what the immense power of the creator of this universe has. One lost his ex-wife to a heroin overdose while his 9 year old son tried to revive her, another was arrested shortly after he gave his life to the Lord, for past probation violations (since released) just when he had turned it around.
And the 3rd, having come from the experience of her first meth use with her own mother at 18, being pregnant with her 4th child from 3 different men, surviving a near fatal heroin overdose, comes to the Lord as a child longs for the gentle touch of a loving father. The Wonder Of It All is that any of these beautiful people is still alive, still standing, and you know by this that there is a loving, merciful God who can do what seems impossible to mankind!
In the middle of all this, is us, just a bunch of farmers tilling the soil, planting seeds that may or may not grow, but when they are fertilized by the creator of such a complex universe, they grow beyond what anyone could ever comprehend.
That's The Wonder Of It All!
Anyone who knows me well knows how I feel about the late 70's and 80's icon Chaka Khan. Special voice, passion for life and when I hear one of her songs my day inevitably turns good. Her songs were made popular in an era when my life was going sideways, but now that I have sobered up, I can enjoy the songs without regret.
This song title Do You Love What You Feel sums us what I feel about this ministry we are working in at ATB. You certainly don't love the things that we the dysfunctional people did to get here, but you do love what gets us straightened out, That would be the healing power of Jesus and the 12 Step process of behavior change.
Not only that but when you see lives change, the seeds you plant in people's hearts begin to grow, well, you know then that the good Lord has turned your dysfunction into a functional asset to His work. You look out into a meeting and see faces that want to change, want a spiritual presence in their lives, and you see someone's child that took a u-turn, and it humbles you to know you can make a great difference by just spreading a message of good news.
Not an ego thing, it is a spiritual high that for sure tells you that what you are doing is in God's plan, his will be done. Not that we are great, but that as he blesses what we do, we become His greatness, we become a pathway to his open gate. Not that we are the Good Shepherd but that he makes us his good shepherds that help lead others to green pastures.
Man, I can kick back, listen to Chaka belt out this previously dysfunctional song, and just smile thinking that I totally love what I feel because I Love What He Does To Me. That would be the Holy Spirit dancing in my heart because it has a whole new meaning to me!
And I love what He does to others!
Or maybe we uttered these fatal words, "I forgot about it". On plenty of occasions we have regrets for what should have happened but didn't. But only when we are faced with the cold harsh reality that the consequences are severe do we actually think through the entire process of what that regret means.
You can contrast the feelings of Peter and Judas and see that the response to those regrets differed upon the level of commitment they had to the situation. Peter knew Jesus was the Messiah, Judas saw him as something different. To some, not dealing with past issues is just a relief and when they rear their ugly head we whack them like one of those "Whack-a-mole" games and put them back in the hole unless we have a consequence to pay.
Peter dealt with it through receiving the Spirit of truth. He may have regretted his actions, but God was going to use him anyway (hits directly home with me). Judas was also full of regret, but he did not feel that forgiveness and forfeited his life. Major consequence for Judas, as someone once said, "you can't un-ring that bell."
Maybe today we regret not taking care of something we should have. Maybe we regret not doing something we could have. Or, maybe we wonder what would have been if we just listened to God's voice? Whatever way we regret, we must accept that anything we haven't dealt with, that we keep inside and have hidden, may one day consume us with an overwhelming pain for not dealing with it.
Can't change it, but we can deal with it!
I forgot to write about something.-you may already know this but worth repeating.-God does not regret paying the price for your forgiveness, Just accept the gift, enjoy it, and move on without regrets, let's try that!
Woke up this morning on a very spiritual high (most mornings I am just on the way up the mountain), and felt like I was sitting on top of a mountain just gazing out on what was a beautiful landscape made by that brilliant artist, Jehovah Creator. Somehow in the midst of hurricanes, floods, fires and the current level of political upheaval, God showed me a peace that definitely passed one's understanding.
Last night we baptized one of the men from SLR who had been speaking about Jesus since we first met a few months ago. He asked me to pray with him beforehand and he was balling tears of remorse and joy simultaneously. He was re-committing his life after many years of addiction and sang for us with a voice that could shake the walls of heaven.
There are way more moments of storms in this ministry than sunshine, so when one comes up you let it linger. I can recall looking out over that portable Baptistry to a crowd of his peers cheering, that the fields are ripe for harvest, there are so many people seeking to change and find peace with a God they may not even know yet.
So, we are Moving On Up at ATB, opening our new Wednesday meeting at 8 PM at Campus to anyone wishing to join us. Previously it was only the SLR folks and a few of our regulars but we are expanding to now have a Sunday Class 9 AM, a Monday meeting at 7;30, and the Wednesday meeting. This is in addition to the 3 weekly groups we now do on site at either SBS or SLR.
You see, the flow of drugs and alcohol never stop, so to must the spirit of love and grace from God flow through this ministry as often as possible to be an alternative to this epidemic we face. There are plenty of natural disasters daily with us, so we need more heroic individuals who want to move on up with us.
I say heroic because this is not for the faint of heart, but for those who realize they may not get through to 9 of the 10 folks they work with, but for the one who makes it, well we'll just have a party to celebrate. As a matter of fact when our guy came out of the water last night, he looked out at his peers and asked anyone he had harmed or had a grievance to forgive him. That's Moving On Up!
I know God was smiling, and had one heck of a party up in heaven last night, it says so in his biography!
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.