There are many ways to look at something, such as the glass is half empty or it is half full. Or, I made a dumb mistake and I am just a complete wreck or, okay I made a dumb mistake but I need to forgive myself and move on. Or, God doesn't love me, but God so loved the world......
Perspective is a product of what is inside of us, do we feel good about ourselves and our relationship with God, or are we constantly beating ourselves up, feeling lost and Godless. There are so many examples I could use, but let's take my Christmas morning as one. I did my normal routine of making sure the coffee maker had water, then changed out the K-cup and turned it on to brew. (You may already be laughing).
I was pretty tired, even though I slept late, thinking I was a little comatose. As I returned to that lovely machine I saw the puddle on the floor and all around it - I had forgotten to put the actual coffee cup in to receive the coffee. But I had a wonderful family time the night before and I was happy, so I cleaned it all up laughing all the way. My perspective, was that this was not that big of a deal and it had not happened before, but I was still a knucklehead, so don't forget next time.
So, this morning, the very first thing I did as I approached the coffee monster was to put in a cup that read "I can do all things through Christ who strengthens me". Yes, he is in the making of coffee and he is the center of a great perspective on life. And, I enjoyed that cup today that taught me a lesson - maybe I should have hit my knees or read a scripture and woke up before I operated machinery.
And I laughed, thinking maybe God was laughing a little with me as well. After all, he knows we are not perfect, and he certainly knows the lessons of life begin in the simplest of details. That's why he wants to be in every aspect of our life, so that our perspective remains good.
"And we know that for those who love God all things work together for good, for those who are called according to his purpose. Romans 8:28
Even making coffee wrong can teach us how to get right!
But the angel said to them "Do not be afraid. I bring you good news of great joy that will be for all people.
I spoke to someone the other day that said they dreaded Christmas shopping, and I am sure we all can echo that sentiment as we have stood in the lines, experienced that special toy being sold out, and felt the wrath of the ugly shopper. Then looking at how much we spent and realized there goes a mortgage payment.
Then there's the decorations, and every year it seems like more. I remember bringing 15 boxes out of the attic one year that my wife had stored up over the years and almost every one was emptied out on decorating the house. Then decorating an entire island in front of the house that looked like a mini Lake Lanier light show. This took several days and required daily maintenance as lights burned out by the elements of nature.
Ah, the joy of Christmas, where has it all gone? It has gotten away from us it seems because we have gotten away from the reason for the season. Our focus has been clouded by the continual search for more gifts, more decorations and more unfulfilled expectations of what we receive in return for the mortgage we just spent. It was never intended to be that way, and it's intention is clear in the next verse in Luke:
Today in the town of David a Savior has been born to you; he is Christ the Lord. Luke 2:11
That's the joy, we got the ultimate gift, nothing can top or replace it - and we give it back to others by spreading the good news of great joy. Wouldn't it be so nice if our children wrote on their wish list "I want to know who Jesus is?"
They will and our families will ask if we act like we know him and show them Christmas is all about Him, and a lot less about us. Merry Christmas all, may you feel that great joy as we celebrate this momentous day!
Right now we find such division on how to handle the COVID-19 crisis, and that's natural since we have a free country to express our own beliefs. Some of us believe in the risk/reward approach, others the safety/protection philosophy. Whether or not we agree, our Governor has allowed us to choose. Thankfully, so has God!
I look at this as a parallel to Jesus ministry on earth. Which category was he in, how did he handle things like this, and what was he trying to teach us? He touched lepers and sick people, hung out with despicable characters and took risks when it came to preaching the truth. He was all about human connection, all about spreading love to the unloved and the broken in spirit. He was here to heal, despite the risks.
He was truly a front line responder, and those of us who are need to take that example to heart. We may not always enjoy the danger, we may often give up something we are comfortable with to do the uncomfortable, but we are assured of who has our back when we do and that breeds confidence in purpose.
I didn't get the Coronavirus from working the front line, it came from another situation. God protected me and us. And when I was in the hospital I never doubted I was coming out because our work is not finished. He provided me comfort, he provided ATB with another leader who stepped up, and he granted me a whole army of prayer warriors and supporters who pulled me through.
My reward for the risk is played out every day in the hundreds of lives we touch who touch each other, and who touch me. Live meetings are diminishing, we are increasing. You can see the hope in the eyes of those who come in the connection that we and our partners help to provide. And when we talk about the Lord, they are listening because they know they need something more than a God they can conceptualize.
God took an enormous risk sending his only son to save us knuckleheads here on earth. The way I look at it, taking a risk on the people he loves and wants to have a relationship with is the least we can do!
Insert The Pause
What are those situations in your life where you wish you would have paused before acting? I have plenty circumstances that would apply to that, and I believe for many of us it is a learned behavior. In this rapid paced society we now live in, pausing is not popular and it is considered "old school" behavior.
Andy Stanley did a teaching series called "The Pause" which I would highly recommend taking a look at. My take from what he said and how Christy from WLP has adapted it to addiction recovery, is that we need to prepare for the pause by changing the way we think if it is something we struggle with. If we act by emotions in most situations we will loose control of what should be, and act without regard to sanity.
Here is a simple anacronym for PAUSE:
Pray don't prey on the situation - don't overreact
Assess the current situation - what is really going on
Use my past experience as a reference - how did that work out
Seriously consider your future plans and dreams - how does this action reflect my goals
Embrace the suck - you may not do what you want to, but do what you need to and own it
In the A.A. Big Book it says on page 87: As we go through the day we pause, when agitated or doubtful and ask for the right thought or action. The key here is "the right thought". We have a thought but is it the right thought?
In my sober, saved life now, I take my cue from David's words in Psalm 27 which indicate that our complete trust in the Lord, which transforms the way we think, will help us approach these situations with confidence that even though the wrong thought may be our first one, we will insert the pause and eventually the right thought will emerge.
The Lord is my light and my salvation - whom shall I fear? The Lord is the stronghold of my life - of whom shall i be afraid? When evil men advance against me to devour my flesh, when my enemies and my foes attack me, they will stumble and fall. Though an army besiege me, my heart will not fear; thought war break out against me,
even then I will be confident. V 1-3, and this:
Wait for the Lord; be strong and take heart and wait for the Lord. V14 There's the pause, wait before we fly off the handle, make a bad decision, give in to those using thoughts. We become confident through a learned process of faith and subsequent work on our defects of character, that help us pause to win the moment.
Insert pause + pray + assess + wait = the right choice! So simple, yet so far away sometimes in the moment.
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.