Some of my favorite go to verses in the Bible are in Isaiah 40:29-31 which is packed with hope and encouragement for all of us:
He gives strength to the weary and increases the power of the weak. Even youths grow tired and weary, and young men stumble and fall; but those who hope in the Lord will renew their strength. They will soar on wings like eagles; they will run and not grow weary, they will walk and not be faint.
In these past four years of ATB's existence we have experienced every emotion in these verses because in addiction recovery we travel a hard road. It is not for the faint of heart, it is for those who never give up even in the face of overwhelming odds to fail. Even when those closest to us fail we continue on to help the next person as in "next man up". And when those who fail come home we greet them with open arms.
For us and the amazing sober living facilities we partner with, we must learn to soar above the fray of mediocrity and chaos and reach for the proverbial stars of light that God provides. We must use his power to soar when things look the bleakest as those who misunderstand our mission to foster redemption attempt to move us to a convenient corner rather than offer greater support.
Ours is a difficult business but one we choose with eyes wide open knowing that God has an endless supply of power, despite our shortcomings, to provide the strength and energy for us to run when we are weary and walk without fainting. We fly together in a pattern much like the world famous Blue Angels performing the most difficult stunts that most thought impossible, mirroring that majestic eagle's flight.
We are imperfection flying in a pattern of His brilliance, not only angelic, but ever soaring to reach one more person to join us on this journey. It is certainly a non-stop flight!
There is so much negativity in the world in general. With immediate media access to everything and how scrutinized every word that is said seems to be, we have lost something special - Value!
Every man, woman and child on this planet deserves to be respected and valued despite their considerable flaws. As Jesus so eloquently said, "Let he who is without sin cast the first stone". Whether we are eminently spiritual or a struggling drug addict we all have value because we were created in God's image and all given the option of redemption through a relationship with Christ.
We can't be so hyper-critical and judgmental that we discount one another for our mistakes. One has to only look at the blatantly critical political ads going on at this moment. Instead of boasting of the great deeds a candidate has accomplished, they are blasting the other for many of the same things you and I have done that fortunately don't go public. Negative destruction of character and devaluing another human being.
Not just in politics, it's everywhere. In the Book of Proverbs there are many words that would apply to treating each other with value, but I like this verse: The man of integrity walks securely, but he who takes crooked paths will be found out.
Having walked down that crooked path before in my life, I understand that walking confidently with the Lord makes you a more positive, encouraging and valuing human being. Without that we tend to build our own self esteem on the backs of the others we walk over to make ourselves feel better.
In the end, as that Proverb says, taking that crooked path, de-valuing and cheating others will eventually lead to destruction. On the other hand, if we value others as Jesus did while he walked this earth, we will be building foundations of growth in the human race while being secure in our integrity.
Now that is a valuable commodity!
There's a long joyous story as to how we picked the name Across The Bridge, but to me the key in the name is the word The. Let me explain please.
In the A.A, Big Book it says "We never apologize to anyone for depending upon our creator." Thus my emphasis on the word The as in He is the one we depend on for our guidance, strength and hope. He is The Pile or The foundation that holds up that bridge for safe passage across. In thinking about this, who would ever apologize for a solid structure that held up a bridge unless it collapsed? For sure, God will never collapse, but we may because we don't build our foundation on him.
So if we do collapse into depression, anxiety, addiction relapse, despair or just sadness or grief, we must remember The will always be there to connect the bridge of hope back together again. Anytime, anywhere God is present and ready to connect us to healing and take us across that bridge from darkness to light, addiction to recovery, sadness to joy, and lost to found. All we have to do is accept that he can and will if he is sought.
He is always The Bridge, and if anyone asks me how I know let me tell them how He put this broken man back together again to help others cross that bridge as well. In fact speaking of the cross, the final word from the Lord to me after many moments of prayer was to make sure that our name had that word in it. Thus it became Across The Bridge.
And we know for certain that if that cross is holding together our bridge of life we might feint but we will never collapse!
A trigger on a gun does nothing until someone fires it. It takes a human act of the will to make it a weapon of self defense or of destruction. It takes a conscious decision to put it into practice so to speak.
David, a man after God's own heart, the slayer of the giant Goliath, the person who killed the lion and bear with his bare hands, the highly decorated warrior and chosen one to be King, fired a trigger that set off a chain reaction of destruction even though his heart was good. He saw something he wanted (Bathsheba) and went after her without any regard for the cost because after all, he was King.
Some might say his trigger was a naked woman bathing, but in fact it was described in these words: In the spring when kings go off to war....but David remained in Jerusalem. He was so used to the battle, but for whatever reason (tired maybe, fed up with war, needing something different) he stayed behind. When he became restless he awoke and took a walk on the roof of the palace. What he saw, he immediately wanted.
In the A.A. Big Book it says this: When I am unwilling to do the right thing, I become restless. irritable, and discontent. It is always my choice. I need much more than a blog on this (see me at ATB Raw this Monday for more) but David was all three of these when he sent his men to go get her, knowing it was wrong but knowing (here comes THE TRIGGER) he was lonely.
But then, as in all cases when a trigger leads an addict to use (even after years clean), there was a cover up, destruction toward another man, death in his family and a spirit that changed him from a mighty warrior of great faith to a whimpy broken king. Until he repented, until he surrendered, until he realized he had no control over his desires, he was lost.
More to come Monday but ponder on this as to how he got his groove back, and how we can get ours: But thou O Lord are a shield around me, you are the lifter of my head. We need a shield between us and that bad decision to pull the trigger, that's called the Holy Spirit that utters three prophetic words to us in the heat of the moment very loudly:
NO, NO, NO! Then, what choice will we make? Have you surrendered to the process yet or are you still taking nights off to relapse when you should be battling against this addiction?
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.