Life's lessons come at a very high price at times. Seldom does anything make us a better person by osmosis but rather experience. I have found that giving serious regard to the lessons of history can steer me away from having to experience very bad things. Parents warn us about what may be if we do wrong, and we may comply. I can say I was not that type. If my parents told me it was bad, I may have believed them but found it necessary to check it out. Shoplifting and skipping school seemed to be the right wrong things to do, so I did. I was a real rebel. The price paid was painful, very painful.
Wising up didn't appeal to me until I was out of my teens...er, twen...thirt..into my forties when I began to sense my mortality. To keep it short, I have found lessons in scripture, of Israel's history to be the story of me...of us all. We have choices to make as Israel did. Life or death, blessing or cursing, freedom or captivity, and the directions that take us to the choices are laid out elaborately so we know how to choose right. In short, Israel chose to reject God, and captivity resulted. So did I.
Deep into my rebellion I became so self-indulgent that led to alcoholism and drug use. I was a captive. The joy of life, my hopes, ambitions or dreams were gone. There was no song in my heart, no reason to sing. I was a slave to self-service. Those close to me eventually wondered, what's wrong with him? I had no song to sing about this strange land I was living in.
"By the rivers of Babylon, there we sat down, yea, we wept when we remembered Zion. We hung our harps upon the willows in the midst of it. For there those who carried us away captive asked of us a song, and those who plundered us requested mirth, saying, 'sing us one of the songs of Zion!'
How shall we sing the Lord's song in a foreign land?" Ps.137: 1-4
This passage and the entire message of do right and all will be well with you, or don't do right and the consequences of wrong will follow, rings true to us all. Addictions and self-indulging behaviors we live out now have placed us into a captivity that has removed any understanding of a joy-filled existence. What seemed like fun, or felt good at the time was deceptive and led to a compulsion to revisit a feeling that never seems to return. The fun we knew left with our refusal to say, "this is wrong, I cannot do this." But now we are captive to our desires, the music died.
In time, God had mercy on Israel once more. He returned them to the land He promised them. That story is powerful. That story is for us to see the truth in as well. God has provided a way for you and I to return to freedom in life. No more addiction to dope, no need for another stiff drink that turns you into a stiff. This lesson is the lesson you can agree is really the truth for all once experienced, and kept. It is the freedom that comes from dying to self, to the norm of what we think is acceptable today, choosing to believe in Christ's redemptive blood for your sin. Just ask God for that gift. He will not refuse. Then stand strong, stay free, and sing away!
"Stand fast therefore in the liberty by which Christ has made us free and do not be entangled again with the yoke of bondage." Gal.5:1
Thanks for reading, God bless and keep you all.
Before I dig into these thoughts I want to make a brief statement about recent events. First, thank all of you that follow my posts. I am truly humbled and grateful that anyone would take the time to read what I write. I hope they help you. If so, give what you get from them to someone else. Second, I have been inconsistent with doing posts of late and unfortunately that is out of my control. When I post, I try to keep it short, under 600 words so they are easy to read. This post may not be one. Of all I have written in the past, this may be the most important. If you cannot read all of this in one reading, bookmark it and read when it is more convenient.
Also, I covet your prayers. Tremendous attacks from darkness are weighing heavy, but through the prayer in faith, God is able and will deliver me.
In recovery meetings and from pulpits, you hear this popular phrase:
"It's not about you."
I understand the meaning to not be so egocentric in life, stop taking everything personally. But I also disagree. People tend to react to the saying as to mean live and let live, don't get involved, don't do what is needed to personally grow so you are ready to help when called on. Or in other words, go on your merry way and let God take care of others problems. Also, some tend to use that adage to say, stay out yourself and the drama around you. After all, you can't fix it.
No matter how you take the meaning of the phrase, please consider that everything you experience, every good thing, every bad thing in life...is about you. You don't do anything for others until you learn how yourself. Can you show someone how to find bread if you don't know where it is? Is there anything in life you automatically know the answer to?
I say no, I had to learn by study or experience everything I know today, including understanding my need for salvation.
I could not possibly help another in recovery from drinking and drugging without being taught myself.
"God uses everything for His glory, even my sin." Anon
How is it about me?
You and I have to realize our purpose, and why that knowledge is important. God did not cause me to fall into alcoholism. He did not condone any sin I have committed. If I have surrendered to Him in full realization of my brokenness and inability to fix myself, He removes the sin and the guilt attached, burns up the embarassment of admission, replacing what held me in the place of silence to boldly proclaim there is hope to others. I am able to help the broken because I am. It is all about me. My willingness to be free of the facade of perfection, exposing my flaws that are many, then God says in effect, "Now I have something to work with."
"Therefore humble yourselves under the mighty hand of God, that He may exalt you in due time." 1 Pet. 5:6
It is about our making the decision to improve our lives by using the spiritual as key to fixing the mental as fallen and deceived. Our minds, geared to self-absorption, diluted from years of self-service and delusions that this is the way we are built, and there is no reason to try and fix that, must change. It is about ME. I have to see myself in the light of becoming able to do, not fixated on the myriad of reasons I cannot change. Having the moment of clarity, an epiphany of the possibility of accomplishment in life come more often than we think. But knowing "I never could" in the past darkens any thought of rising above my shattered self to reign in life as a king. The words coming from the depths of my heart are polluted by wrong thinking.
Well, that's the way I have always felt.
I'm not good at that.
I never could get into doing this.
These words, hold us hostage to the gene-pool we flowed from. One man told me his father said to him, "son, don't try to go above yer raisin in life." When you accept Christ as Savior and Lord, the Holy Spirit comes to indwell you. everything about YOU dies. That moment, changes you, though completely invisible to the eyes of flesh, but alive to the eyes of the spirit by faith. The acceptance of what occurred can move you into brilliant light, a new heritage, a new understanding, if you continue in Christ and refuse to just hang out as a spectator. God will take the willing heart and develop a new you. That is about YOU, allowing Him to re-mold you.
In recovery from addictions, there is a similar occurrence. You listen and learn you can have the moment of clarity revealing your powerlessness and unmanagebility over...everything in life. That is, not just powerlessness over your addiction. Every one entering recovery doesn't get it. Many hear, even agree with what is said, but walk away, returning to their misery. That doesn't make sense to those determined to stay. But that is about THEM too. They realize to recover means giving up their identity they worked hard to develop. Having to re-think, to change friends, hang-outs, or doing what they "love" to do has to go away. The price is too high. Or they feel thay won't make it from the many failures in the past, and have nowhere to go but back to their old neighborhood and family. That is tragic.
It is about you. What I have stressed above is mainly geared at recovery from addictions and following Christ. There are other things to consider that are about you.
What type of student are you?
How good of a parent are you? Do you take education seriously?
What type of a parent are you? Are you just a buddy to your children? Or do you teach them right from wrong, good and bad behaviors, discipline and reward?
Are you a good employee, diligent on the job, faithful in attendance and on time?
Who are your friends? Does the friendship create a desire to be a better you, or are they gossip opportunities when you are together?
How are you with your immediate family? When you all come together, are you still involved in sibling rivalries?
It is ALL about YOU. You can disregard this post, and say, that was a waste of ten minutes I'll never get back. Or you can ponder what I'm trying to convey. What is about you is everything necessary to giving yourself away to find joy, peace, and love. People would give all they have for this. Robin Williams had it all many thought. Why would he end his life? I don't know, nor may never.
I do know that many who end their life don't realize just how much this existence here is about them. They have a false notion it is about their wants and needs and learning how to get what they want. It is about themselves. Had they learned it is about YOU, perhaps they may have taken the ME approach in life and grew to understand it being about ME is learning to be about learning to be about YOU, bringing God glory. Don't let that statement confuse you. The point is we have to see without the blinders of self. That takes effort, and thought, and prayer. It is all about YOU, and your making a choice to develop a you committed to change and service, or about YOU that sees only its needs, thinks every moment, every conversation, every event is because of their existence.
Thanks for reading, God bless and keep you all!
A topic came up in an AA meeting recently that caused me to think about what the recovering thinks about. Drama is not just a word to describe a movie type when selecting something to watch. Drama is what recovering addicts/alcoholics call problems they own, or that others own, and anyone striving to recover aim to stay clear of. They are aware that the drama coming from whatever source is unhealthy mentally, when one desires to live clean and sober.
So why dwell on drama? Why is that the frequent topic?
Drama does not belong to those living a life of successful achievement. Especially the follower of Christ living and walking according to the scriptures, maturing in the Faith, and knowing their purpose. They have drama to be sure. They may also have their mind set on the eternal home, dwarfing any problems in this life that sidelines their growth, their personal recovery, their ability to pursue serving God by serving people. They hear the drama from others, deal with their own as well, but find no need to allow the temporal things and problems of this life to be constant in their minds.
What lies ahead?
When many of us think about heaven we think about harps, clouds, golden streets, those friends and family members already there, and sometimes God. I would like for you to step out of the "Hollywood heavenly thinking" of heaven, try expanding your mind's eye to imagine what lies beyond the gates of pearl.
"If you have been raised with the Messiah, seek what is above where the Messiah, (Jesus), is seated at the right hand of God. Set your mind on things above, not what is on the earth." Col.3:1-2
Imagine colors so vivid that you cannot stop looking...at anything there. Imagine aromas so wonderful that you actually feel them. Imagine sounds that captivate so intensely that you have to become aware your feet and body are moving with the sounds, as is everyone around you. Imagine tasting foods where every morsel melts in your mouth, or every hand shake or embrace feels far beyond anything felt here, in this life. You feel everything, words, smells, tastes. Imagine being captivated in conversation, meeting those from history, hearing their story. Joy and excitement everywhere, and everyone busy!
Imagine the first moment you see the One who made your arrival there possible. The brilliant light of His countenance, indescribible love radiating from Him, His words hitting your ears with the sounds of thousands of people laughing, "welcome home where you belong," He says to you, "wanna see your place?" And suddenly what appears to be Him becoming two people separating, a familiar second Person says to you, I'll show you"...No wonder He looks familiar...The Holy Spirit, so sweet, so personal, taking you to your place Jesus prepared. "Lets make a stop on the way," He says.
Suddenly, you hear sounds that stir every emotion, every good feeling you ever experienced, and you have this sense of total awe...and unworthiness. Your breath wants to leave as you behold the Almighty's splendor and majesty! Face first you fall as a natural reaction to the force of His magnificence! You hear this beautiful sound you have never heard, and looking up you see the source of the sound H-O-L-Y in duplicate coming from these two beautiful creatures circling the throne. With each time they circle the throne they see a new characteristic of the One seated...El Shaddai, The Lord God Creator, saying to you...well done, enter, I have so much for you to see...just a moment in His Eternal Presence and your mind id filled with knowledge and understanding!
(In my personal view of heaven, we may know and understand much the moment we arrive, but not everything. I believe that God designed us for discovery, and a desire to find out things by searching. We will still have the desire to achieve. We will have eons to discover so much of what our heart ultimately desires...God Himself.)
You are guided by the Holy Spirit to your place...a galaxy that seems to extend forever. You see a greeting line of people welcoming you...but very few are familiar. Who are all of these people?" you ask the Holy Guide. "These on the left are your lineage all the way back to Adam and Eve. On the right, everyone you influenced in life, either personally, or by another in this line, they all came to your homcoming party."
What lies ahead for us may not be like what I see so much. The implication, however, is to give thought to the eternal destination with imagination more than the drama of this life. Set your thoughts on the Eternal One. Think of the brilliance you encounter there, but realize He is in you here thus the drama has little impact. C. S. Lewis, in his book, "Mere Christianity," wrote:
"Aim at heaven and you will get earth thrown in. Aim at earth and you will get neither."
I'm aware not everyone in recovery has the hope of heaven. I pray they do eventually. Our minds will have something on them constantly. We choose drama, or we choose to think growth and moving ahead. Though everyone views differently, things temporal, things eternal, life takes a major turn for the good, for the believer, when Home, not drama is the aim.
Thanks for reading, God bless and keep you all.
I find hard at times to take orders from anyone. That has plagued me lifelong. After all, I know it all. Those who command me to do anything had better be paying me to follow their orders, or they can take a flying leap into the abyss of eternal darkness. Then, I read this little passage in Proverbs: