I find myself often singing that old Mr. Rogers song, "It's a beautiful day in the neighborhood, won't you be my neighbor". It's a good way to deal with life on life's terms because it emphasizes two important things: our attitude regardless of circumstances is so important, and serving and loving our fellow man is critical to that attitude.
Left alone and isolated life can get overbearing. Given fellowship with friends, family and others can be challenging but yet so fulfilling. We were meant to be together, not set apart. If we are to live a life of purpose we have to "love God, and love our neighbors as ourselves". That requires a whole lot of conversation more than a blog can handle, but it requires answering important questions for those of us dealing with addiction that we can talk about here.
First, can we stay sober, next can we keep in emotional balance, and finally, can we live to good purpose under all conditions? In the Big Book of A.A. it quotes "What we really have is a daily reprieve contingent on the maintenance of our spiritual condition". If we are connected to the source, we develop a God-consciousness or if you prefer, being led by the Spirit that helps to answer every one of those questions. It keeps us in balance.
It's one thing to know all the scriptures or quote all the pages of the Big Book or the 12 and 12, but do we put into action what Mr. Rogers was talking about? Is our attitude a reflection of our pain or the willingness to let God remove it so that we can look at life as beautiful? Or, is our attitude one that invites others in or locks them out?
The daily reprieve requires that we have a spiritual program of action whatever that program may entail for each one of us. If it's working we begin to sense the flow of God's Spirit within us instead of the desire to use the spirits of alcohol and drugs. One is beautiful, the others quite ugly.
There is a lifetime reprieve - his name is Jesus! Won't you be his neighbor?
This is one of the words most of us never want to hear. It strikes fear in the hearts of the families and friends of the one who does, but for some reason the addict tends to experience more than one, and in fact in our meeting last night one man said he had 18. Cunning and baffling, you better believe it!
Jen did an awesome job in that same meeting on her topic "Burn The Ships" as Overdose had hit her hard last Friday. A friend with a year clean got lonely, called an old boyfriend and the next thing that happened was an Overdose. Gone and revived after 12 minutes but in the hospital on oxygen. She is fortunate to be alive.
Unfortunately most of us who lived through the addiction process needed more than one close encounter with death. Primarily it is due to what Jen spoke about, we neglected to put the past behind us, burn the phone numbers of our predatory friends and ex's, drug dealers etc. etc. etc. And we didn't work through the pain of letting go of anger, hurt, resentments, forgiveness, low self worth, etc. etc. etc.
When we do this recovery is simple, move forward with a clean slate, no turning back, but also move forward with THE God who can work with you to change. If not, if left to our own devices, that loneliness, that unforgiveness, those old numbers we kept around just in case, all come back to haunt us and destroy our chances to succeed. We cannot just go through the motions. we need to follow the one who can put a new sober life into motion.
Recovery is simple, you want it, you can have it. You want him, no not him, HIM, HE will take you beyond where you have ever been to be what you were always meant to be. Then you can find the him's and her's you need to keep you on the right path.
And burn that word Overdose along with the rest of the %$#@ that blocks your recovery!
What? Something we have an image of in our own mind or something we may somewhat understand but have only a small comprehension of? Or maybe all that matters is that we have faith that there is a God and he is alive working through us to make an impact in this world. Otherwise, what's the point?
Speaking to the Thessalonians Paul said this: God is just: He will pay back trouble to those who trouble you and give relief to you who are troubled, and to us as well.
If all we believe is that God is just, then that answers part of the question. Tough situations in our life, people hurt us, we have suffering, God is just to take of it. We hurt others, we make bad mistakes, we fall down when we should be walking right, God is just to justify us. That's why the role of Jesus is the rest of the answer.
By justifying us through his death and resurrection we have the right to walk by faith that God is always just, just not always the way we think he should be. That seems to be the root of our problem, defining who God should be instead of who he really is. That's where faith steps in to fill the gap of misunderstanding.
On this Thursday, September 15 seven years ago a careless driver took my youngest sons life. Though the hurt then was unbearable, and still is painful, his death propelled me back to ATB to develop what it is today. I did not understand it, but I know that my son, also Paul, walks with God while I walk out the rest of my life every day in honor of both of them.
God is just, he has given me relief through my troubled heart, and we pass on that same relief to others on His behalf!
I was shopping at a home store when ATB was moving into our building looking for a cross that would be the centerpiece of our main meeting room. There were some interesting ones but there was one that stood out - it had the word HOPE etched on its intersection symbolizing it's personal message to me. It's still there.
Hope deferred makes the heart sick, but a longing fulfilled is the tree of life. Proverbs 13:12
The Bible uses the word hope over 100 times illustrating how important the meaning of that word is. Here's a quote from the book "Important Words of The Bible": HOPE. The mere word can make our hearts beat faster. And when we manage to grab ahold of the gift itself, the effect is miraculous. With hope we are able to keep going, even when all seems lost.
The scripture and the quote match, once we have seen hope fulfilled we can handle any situation knowing that a hopeless situation can change dramatically to a hopeful conclusion. Just because we lose now and then doesn't mean all is lost. Life has it's ebb and flow, but if we see and read that word HOPE, especially when matched with the cross, we understand that the longing fulfilled happened on that tree of life.
Because of that we are always Hopeful no matter what situation we are facing!
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 email@example.com.