Man, do I get this one! For so many years I let alcohol and drugs cloud my decision making. I was lost in a sea of confusion on most days, and on others when I had success I would fall right back down again to failure the next day. The baffling and cunning predators of addiction and being just plain stubborn stood between me and God.
This morning I opened my Bible to two Proverbs that so accurately summed up the knucklehead life as I will call it, that is the life that excludes God from its foundation. Let me present them to you one at a time.
A prudent man sees danger and takes refuge, but the simple keep going and suffer for it. Proverbs 22:3
I can promise you the word prudent was never a part of my life before coming to a life of faith. It seemed the more I suffered the more I desired more suffering from my consequences. But in truth, the thrill of trying the dangerous was always worth the risk it seemed, until losing almost everything that was valuable to me. Then the real suffering set in realizing I had become simply a fool.
The eyes of the Lord keep watch over knowledge, but he frustrates the words of the unfaithful. Proverbs 22:12
I don't get it! Now maybe you and I understand why. The Lord guards the wisdom he delves out and he doesn't portion it out to fools. Ever say something that seemed to come out of nowhere that impacted someone else - that was God, not you. I can think of so many messages I have delivered that words came to me from seemingly nowhere but it was the Holy Spirit taking me somewhere he wanted me to go with them.
Then again, we can also be unfaithful once we come to believe, as witnessed by David and Peter just to name a couple examples in scripture. And I can remember being frustrated by my words, but that too was God trying to tell me to get back on track. He's that way, a forgiving, loving father giving us the knowledge we need to succeed moment by moment, even if it embarrasses us into learning from the confusion.
Thank God, He gets it!
I got the phone call early on September 15, 2015 - my son-in-law said my youngest son Paul has been in an accident. My heart felt like it stopped for a moment but I began to pray. Then the second call came a few minutes later. He's dead. My roommate said he had never seen that look on anyone's face - ever.
Somewhere in the middle of that day, through all the heartache, prayers and conversations with God, it hit me. Now, I really know how you felt God when your son died on that cross. The pain, the agony of it all was way more than a human like me can ever comprehend, but I now knew a little of God's sorrow. Somehow it bonded me closer to Him in understanding.
Paul was killed by a driver not paying attention. Jesus was killed by a mob mentality of people not paying attention to who they were nailing to that cross. The driver that ran down Paul got probation. those who hung Jesus later got salvation. Because of Paul's death, I got back into ministry and ATB just keeps growing and helping others. Because of Jesus death the kingdom just keeps growing and helping others.
This is me somehow making sense of it all by making a comparison that really doesn't compare except in the mind of a grieving father. It is a process of me understanding just how far God would go to save you and I. Not just an act of love, but a selfless, painful sacrifice of the highest degree.
God got his son back, and one day I hope to see mine again. But only because of what His son went through will this be possible for me. I understood on that fateful day, I understand now. Jesus showed us how God could hurt, but he also showed us what to do with that hurt.
God will go to any length to demonstrate his love for us, and he turned his hurt & pain into our eternal gain. He asked us to do the same!
What is that thing or those things that disturb your heart, maybe cause you to overreact, possibly trigger a relapse or even worse? The other day a man shot three people in a restaurant/bar over someone accidentally spilling a drink on him. Really?
The 12 & 12 of A.A. speaks about how our natural instincts have far exceeded their proper functions and have dominated our lives in addiction. Think about it, every decision virtually is made out of impatience, wrong thinking and bad attitude. Resentments, anger, loneliness, depression, anxiety, they all pile up within us to cause an IT, and it simmers like a sweltering volcano until it blows up sooner or later.
Proverbs 4 speaks of guarding our heart, Above all else, guard your heart, for it is the wellspring of life. Put away perversity from your mouth, keep corrupt talk from your lips. Let your eyes look straight ahead, fix your gaze directly before you. Make level paths for your feet and take only ways that are firm. Do not swerve to the right or left; keep your foot from evil.
Only by flushing out the stream of abuse, betrayal, resentment, hurt, grief and other baggage items we carry can living water flow from our hearts. Bad life, usually bad talk. Bad relationships, complaining and gossip. But when you hear good news, such as Jesus telling us he will give us living water that leaves us without thirst, then we realize that our hearts can heal and thus what becomes our actions and our words changes dramatically.
Our IT's become our QUITS, as in we quit doing this or that, quit manipulating others, quit complaining about others, and started speaking life instead of death and destruction. We grow up, we show up as difference makers instead of defiance makers. Our whole attitude and outlook on life changes.
We don't swerve to the left or right just because we have an urge, instead we stay focused on doing right more than wrong. I say "more than" because we are all still capable of making a bad decision regardless of our maturity or time of sobriety. But if we come to the Lord, we quickly turn away and get back on that level path by his amazing grace.
His steps, the Steps, they all keep us from taking that step toward evil.
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.