It was a great week for me last week, good business, good weather and good family time. I call "family" my blood relatives, my church spiritual circle of friends, the recovery folks, and my new extended family in my Florida travels. I am such a blessed man, but more so for being part of the Family Promise, that is a promise that no matter whether we succeed or fail, do good or fall into bad habits, that no matter whether we are rich or poor, happy or sad, there is a family that loves us, and it is headed by a grace filled, loving God!
When we see this promise turned into action, we see God through us in our finest moments. Last Friday, I was happy to surprise my oldest daughter for her birthday on my way back to ATL. The fact that they were near the beach was also a draw, but their purpose in being there was to raise awareness of homeless families in Brevard County, FL. They were having an event that drew a few hundred volunteers to spend the night outdoors in tents and boxes. I was privileged to walk a few laps with her and listen to all the great work her organization (Family Promise) was doing.
The highlight was speaking to a Navy veteran who with his three kids was previously homeless and had been helped to get back on his feet by her organization. The government was unable to provide what he needed but Tara (my daughter) and these volunteers acted as a family to help him succeed.
Conversely, Tara told me about a woman whom they were also helping, but had not disclosed that she had $2,400 in the bank. Instead of just booting her out, they sat down with her and spoke of accountability and honesty. Not sure of the final result, but the point was that when there is a Family Promise, we act like a family, we forgive like the Lord taught us to do, and then we talk about straightening out the situation.
In ATB, we act as that family as well, and we are not the behavior police, only the arm and a few fingers of the body of Christ. We have great success, as well as multiple failures, and through it all, we rely on the covering of grace. We have a saying in 12 Step circles, "There but by the grace of God go I", and our Family Promise to you, as is that of Tara's organization, is that we don't remove you from the family unless you remove yourself.
Even then, as did the Prodigal Son's father, we will be waiting with open arms to have you come back. That for sure is our Family Promise, and that of Tara and her volunteers. Please pray for them, and for those of us who may be experiencing a lack of that grace within our own families.
It is a very lonely life that isolates from family, and even worse when it causes isolation from God.
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.