Yesterday we learned of another heroin overdose death from one of the guys in our group. We prayed for the victim and their family last night, but in my heart I could feel God re-enforcing my commitment to this ministry. It's so simple- we will not rest until parents stop getting phone calls that their child has overdosed.
I received a call similar to that on September 15, 2015. My youngest son had been killed in a motorcycle accident, not related to drugs, but still a crashing blow to his family and to me personally. The loss was unbearable for awhile, but my promise to Paul was that I would do my best to reach young people in his age category (he was 29) and help prevent any similar calls from happening wherever I could.
All is not lost. That is the best I could do then, and now it is to strive in the Spirit to present God as the first option to life, so that if something tragic should ever happen, they will be at eternal peace. And if possible, we want to save the present folk from ever doing another hit or a shot or a pill by establishing an actual life changing relationship with Jesus. We have no new magic solutions, but we have the ultimate one.
No matter what the drug of choice, the heart of the matter is that there is a void of some kind that began with some form of life changing events like divorce, bullying, sexual abuse or many other similar events. This void did not trigger 100% of addiction, but it has in the majority of cases. It triggered the downfall often without the realization that it did. And that void, that longing for acceptance, love and peace in life, can only be filled by that relationship with the Lord.
Sounds too simple, but turning our life over to him is not. It takes an open and willing heart to take that step. What we do is simply continue to offer the same solution over and over again but in differing ways and methods until that willing heart will accept it and take the plunge. We are the farmers planting seeds just as the first century disciples did, plowing the ground until it is fertile.
In the tragedy of death, All Is Not Lost, growth has often just begun. Ask Jesus!
If you had to describe what you are fighting for in your life right now, what would it be? Your family, freedom from addiction, debt or income, joy, your faith, just to make it to tomorrow? That is something to think about that may take more than a minute.
I believe all of us were born with a desire to succeed, and overcome obstacles, it's just that some of us have to fight more battles than others. In his book, "The Warrior Within", Bruce Lee makes a point that we need to tap into the spiritual forces within us to shape our future. There's a Yin (the light) and a Yang (the darkness), and though they co-exist, a Warrior will uphold the light, what is right, and fight against the dark forces of life and what is wrong. That is always our battle.
If we are created in the image of God, then we have his DNA. Moses wrote a song once he and his people were delivered from slavery, and here is a key part of it: The Lord is my strength and my song; he has become my salvation. He is my God, and I will praise him, my father's God, and I will exalt him. The Lord is a warrior; the Lord is his name.
The Warrior Within is the seed planted within us by our creator. But the problem is that some warriors are not victorious, we are not always prepared to do battle. Here is a quote from a Chinese philosopher which I believe is the key to victory in any battle:
Victorious warriors win first then go to war, while defeated warriors go to war first and then seek to win.
When the dope man comes and puts his hand out with an offer of ecstasy, when that beautiful man or woman offers you instant gratification, step back and say, "I'm a warrior, it's in my DNA to be victorious." Because, the battle is in our mind not in a drug or alcohol addiction. We can do the Steps, read the Big Book, work the 12 & 12, have a sponsor but in the end we need a power much greater than ourselves to win the battle.
For our struggle is not against flesh and blood, it is against the powers of darkness - it's that Yang that keeps dragging us down. So if we add the Bible to all the recovery and self help books we will find the instructions how to prepare for battle, and it will already be won even before it has begun!
It's in your DNA, it's The Warrior Within ready for battle!
,We wear these words out in the ATL for our Falcons, it is a proud call for our birds to fly above and soar over the competition. Lately we have been doing much more soaring and a lot less being grounded (except for that slight loss of flight in the Super Bowl). But as birds do fly, bad weather often causes misdirection in our flight plan.
We also know from this beautiful book of life, the Bible, that God wants us to soar on the wings of eagles, even when we stumble and fall. In plain language, when we fail, get up, shake the dust of failure off and take flight again, don't ever stop trying to soar. Certainly an Eagle is much more magnificent than a Falcon, but they are both majestic while in flight, and whether we are an Eagle or a Falcon, rich or poor, black, white, brown or yellow, male or female, we can all fly the same in God's eyes.
Trouble is the climate in our country is stormy, and extended to the climate in the world it is confusing. But through it all, one of the main things we can do is keep trying to soar above the turbulence. To do that we have to ignore those who say we can't, those who put us down, and those who bully us around to glorify themselves. In God's eyes we are all Eagles ready to take flight!
So we must Rise Up and always extend faith into the situations that come to us as mighty clouds of doubt. If the devil can take Job to the limit, he can certainly make us grow tired and weary of it all. We Rise Up to not grow weary, not be faint of heart, and to renew our strength through the power of the Holy Spirit who is our pilot.
We cannot let anyone or anything stop us from being the shining stars that God wants us to be, and we cannot let ourselves be grounded by the issues that will take us down. Feel them, deal with them, but do so in a manner that Jesus taught us to do, pray about them, and if they cause anguish, turn it over to the will of God, as Jesus did, He is our air traffic controller!
Now, about those Falcons........
An Awesome God
Last night went one way, and then it took a turn, as it often does when we get people together who have differing levels of faith. The topic was "Chasing Fantasies" and soon became about the God of our understanding, which book is more appropriate for recovery, the Big Book or the Good Book, and then drifted into a road map for behavior and what happens when a man who was saved commits suicide?
Just normal questions for a normal night right? I love it, God is so awesome. Here we are speaking about recovery and up comes everything about God from a group of folks who are searching to find their way and have many questions. The great news is that they ask, the more difficult part is that we are so inadequate to define all the ways of God and what answer there is that He would give to these questions.
But I have some. And I start with this, "Do not judge, or you too will be judged" and then "Thou shalt love the Lord thy God with all thy heart, and with all thy soul, and with all thy mind, This is the first and greatest commandment. And the second is like unto it, Thou shalt love thy neighbor as thyself. On these two commandments hang all the law and the prophets."
These pretty much cover priorities, behavior and judgmental attitudes. What is open is how do we get to God, not who do we get to, but how does one so far away get back home to their creator. This my friends covers many differing paths toward that end. I have seen AA and NA do better spiritual work on an individual than a church, and I have seen different churches come to believe in the importance of every human soul where all are welcome, and then bring those folks who were ready to a personal relationship with Christ.
I have read the Big Book, the AA 12 and 12, the Bible and countless other self help and recovery books and they are all good, all point to the same God they just go about it in different ways and words. Which is more important? It varies as to how far you are on your journey, which one helps lead you to the truth. To the heroin addict after coming down from the side effects of a binge, the chair in a room of a meeting may be the only God he or she can see at that moment because it offers comfort, safety and structure.
Where are you in the journey is the question and whether or not on the journey toward a spiritual awakening someone offers the words that compel you to change? It can happen anywhere at any time in any place because the God we serve is omnipresent, and the time you are ready is when you are ready.
Whatever that is, however you get there, there is but one conclusion, He is An Awesome God!
PS.....On Wednesday night, October 11 at 8 PM during our meeting we will have an open Q & A session about these questions and you are welcome to join us, especially those of you who have a great knowledge of scripture and those who are great lovers of those who are lost. Should be a very interesting night!
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.