They were not the trendy couple in the world's definition of it. Addicts, drug dealers, prostitution, those words do not appear on the resume of the most admired couples. But yet, these two, there was something very special about them from the very beginning, especially when Sheila would finish Will's sentences.
They would tell their stories but even that was together, seemed like everything they did was together because their love and faith had been forged in the battle of addiction recovery and finding the Lord, and they were completely united in their walk in life.
Several years ago I went to visit Will in the VA hospital and was struck with his incredible faith and courage. We had a long conversation, and throughout it all he spoke of his beloved wife. Suddenly he passed away and this couple who seemed to be joined at the hip was torn apart in life, but not in spirit.
Sheila carried on, but you could see the spark missing in her eyes despite all her attempts to connect with others. I remember in one of our meetings someone trying to "hit" on her and she quickly rebuffed him saying that Jesus was the only man she wanted besides Will. It was always as if Will was still here, just not speaking those sentences she would finish.
Yesterday, Sheila passed from cancer complications and was rejoined with Will again. We will miss her courageous spirit and steadfast love of both the Lord and how she loved Will. And we will also remember the tremendous battle they both fought to find freedom from addiction - we will remember those huge smiles when they described their victories and we will remember that they showed us you don't need to be trendy to be heroic.
Rest in the peace of the Lord Sheila, and thank you for blessing us with your enormous presence!
Inspired by the lesson we are doing at Campus Church this morning about "Taming The Tongue", realizing that the tongue is such a "small member yet it boasts of great things" James 3:5, I embark on a blog about how doing the little things gives God great pleasure.
We like to think big, do great things for ourselves, sometimes also for God and mankind. Depends on what level our self meter is on as to which takes priority. Many, many times in my life I have missed the little things, the ones that make a relationship work, the ones that stay with you all day long that may come from the smile or embrace of a child, the ones that make such a major difference in someone else's life.
Holding a hand, just listening, cleaning up someone else's mess, taking time to understand - so many little things that God is looking for in us when we think he wants to make us bigger, better and smarter. Yes he certainly does, that's how the kingdom advances, but it takes learning how to do the little things well that builds the bridge to any success.
He speaks, about coming to him like "little children", learning how to be trusted in the small things so that the big things are not mishandled. He speaks about how a tiny mustard seed sprouts into a majestic tree and how five loaves of bread and two fish fed thousands. Yes, to him, the little things mean so much.
The little things, the details of faith building like reading a Bible verse a day, setting aside time to pray and meditate, the devotional that begins our day- all these add up to a huge faith. But if we fail to do these, we soon find ourselves asking, what went wrong, how did I get here, and we realize that we were trying so hard to be big that we forgot to remain little.
Yes, I have personally experienced this many times, that's why I write about it, and the feeling when you get to that point is what really matters. That's why right now in my life every time someone or something tries to make me feel "bigger" I just go back into my God cave to get smaller.
What really matters? The little things that God asks us to do that brings others pleasure, makes Him smile, makes us grow, and brings each of us just a little closer to Him.
All of that makes Him big, and us just a little bigger and better, and sometimes even smarter.
No doubt that we men do not listen to most directions, but lately I have trusted in my MAPS app on my phone with the gentle female voice to guide me. More than once during the directions there has been a course correction due to impending traffic jams, which gave me the idea to do a couple meetings this week on that topic.
The process of recovery and living life in general goes much better with prayer and meditation. If we need to correct the direction our lives are going in what better way to do it than consult the creator as to where we should go? They call it God's will and it is so hard to know it if we keep medicating or hesitating to open a communications door to him.
Lots of things prevent this but the main one is pride, closely followed by fear, rebellion, and the natural desires we have to have some form of control over our lives. No time for detail here, but let's focus on a possible solution. Whatever way, the best ways to understand what he wants us to do can be summed up in two scriptures:
Be very careful then, how you live - not as unwise but as wise, making the most of every opportunity, because the days are evil. Therefore do not be foolish, but understand what the Lord's will is. Do not get drunk on wine, which leads to debauchery. Instead be filled with the Spirit. Ephesians 5:15-18
Pretty easy interpretation that using to the extent that involves any addiction leads to a dysfunctional life marred by missed opportunities, even some that God laid out right before us, because we made a whole bunch of bad choices. But in it is the key - be led by the spirit, not the "spirits". And how does that show us God's will? By living by the fruit of that Spirit.
But the fruit of the spirit is love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, and self-control. Against such things there is no law. Galatians 5:22-23
If we live our lives by these nine principles, we will walk, even sometimes accidentally into God's will because these are wise things that bring freedom, not evil. They are a constant GPS reminder that to make a course correction we need to follow someone that knows the right directions. We pray and meditate to seek his answers.
It's not complicated to understand, but often hard to follow because I left out one important thing that prevents this- we are stubborn. Might add the ladies to this as well.
So here's the point, don't let being stubborn keep us stuck on being stupid. It's so much easier God's way!
I am constantly amazed at how many people who are in addiction recovery get in my truck and do not fasten their seat belt. Do they think I am that safe a driver, or that it is too restraining?
Either way, when I asked how many flew through a windshield in an accident only one hand went up. The rest may not have survived. So what is the bottom line of buckling up? Rebellion, lack of restraining boundaries of life, buying into the adrenaline rush of living life on the edge. But doing so actually perpetuates something else.
The free dictionary defines Buckle Up in 3 negative ways and one positive: 1. To bend, warp or crumple as in crumple under, 2. To give way: collapse, 3. To succumb, as to exhaustion or authority; give in. Yes, here's the paradox, not buckling up can cause buckling up. It can happen to addicts who escape every responsibility by using and it can happen to good people who never get the point of life.
Look at the Apostle Peter, he buckled up despite living with God himself for three years. When challenged he succumbed to the pressure by bailing out. Why? We can only guess it was fear of losing his life, but Jesus himself told him he who loses his life will gain it. Maybe Peter failed to read the ancient scripture passed down by the Jewish faith: As for God, his way is perfect; the word of the Lord is tried: He is a buckler to all that trust him. 2 Samuel 22:31.
So, after Peter failed, he wept. Then, he became buckled up with the very Spirit of the Lord and turned his life around. We can too, it is our choice to buckle up or not, but when we do it clearly says in that scripture, the word of the Lord is tried, it has passed the test, it endures, and it takes us through whatever is before us, good or bad. Either way we are buckled up with protection.
In the A.A Big Book it says, "rarely have we seen a person fail who has thoroughly followed our path". The 4th definition in that dictionary says: To become fastened with a buckle. That would be the buckler who fastens together all the aspects of our life, if we thoroughly follow him.
My advice, buckle up before we buckle up!
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.