Wow, 2014 flew by! I can hardly believe 2015 is knocking on the door.My thought about 2014 is...goodbye, good riddance. I want to warn 2015, "don't you come in here thinking you are going to run rough-shod and knocking things over like 2014 did!" That may be how I feel, but I know I cannot talk to a year per se, but I can be prepared.
If you are in recovery from any addiction of any kind, gird up your loins, get ready to rumble. That is not having the expectation of bad things in store for 2015. It is all about being ready to battle, if necessary, while eagerly expecting the many good things as we recover, one day at a time. Are you ready? Have you laid out a plan of action?
"If you fail to plan, you plan to fail." Franklin/Hamilton (both old Ben and Alexander are given credit for that quote)
God has a plan for you that is fabulous and exciting, brilliant in design, but hard for the finite mortal mind to accept. People love to quote their favorite passages from scripture. I certainly do. Here is one of them, now popular due to the masses addicted to dope and drink these days. This is a promise of hope:
"For I know the plans I have in mind for you, says Adonai, plans for well being, not for bad things; so that you can have hope and a future." Jer.29:11 (Complete Jewish Bible)
God is not against you and I. He is for us. He is for YOU! But I want to tell you there is more to that scripture than our getting a fuzzy feeling and knowing God is not against us. There is instruction for us to prepare to receive God's plan:
"When you seek me, you will find me, provided you seek for me wholeheartedly; and I will let you find me, says Adonai. THEN I will reverse your exile." Jer. 29:13 (CJB)
It is wonderful to know God has us in mind, and has plans for us. Do we have Him in mind, and plans for Him? Is God the center of your plans in 2015? He is sure recovery from addictions. He is the Rock we build our spirituality on, Whose plans never fail us, and keep us steady.
2012 was a hard year. 2013 was even harder. 2014...ouch. Through it all, God kept me sober and growing, aware that each trial is a learning experience. Some may have been avoided. I know often my spiritual guard was down, the enemies attacked with glee, I wanted to cry "UNCLE!" dozens of times. That is not in God's plans or mine.
Think, Act, Plan (TAP)
Think about the year ahead. Act by talking to God as to how you want 2015 to be different for you in relation to Him and your life. Plan by writing down things you want to address and overcome, changes you feel you need to make, and how, a year from now, you want to see yourself body, mind, and spirit. Will you be able to say, "2015 was a great year?"
The events of 1972's Watergate scandal left a dark stain on American politics...putting it mildly. The truth is, that incident ruined political careers, sent men with unblemished records to prison, pressured Richard Nixon into retirement. Believe it or not, something wonderful came out of that dastardly affair.
Chuck Colson was one of those men that ended up in prison. He passed from this life in 2012, but not before the second part of his life shook the gates of darkness good, really good. He became a follower of Christ feeling the weight of the scandal, his spirit broken, wanting answers, or wanting to die.
That conversion was followed by his starting prison ministries and angel tree which is a program for the children of prisoners. He authored many books, held a daily radio commentary, began the Colson Center...to name a few of his accomplishments after coming to faith in Jesus. (There is more to say, but I'm trying to shorten posts for readability.)
What Satan meant for evil for Colson, God meant for good. Who knows the mind of God? Like Paul wrote in Romans 11:33; God's ways are past finding out! And Isaiah 55:8-9, God declares His ways are higher than our ways, His thoughts higher than our thoughts. Mortal minds could never conceive of a plan like this. Thousands upon thousands of lives have been changed by....Watergate?
It really is not that scandal transforming lives, but rather the working of the Holy Spirit in the life of one willing to give their gift, risking embarrassment and scorn, falling on the grace of God in total surrender.
How does this relate to recovery from addictions to drink and drugs, or anything else?
You can allow your past to entrap you for the rest of your life if you feel God couldn't or wouldn't possibly use your story to bring hope to others. Chuck's story is a lesson of hope for you. God may have used Chuck's prominence, but throughout church history, God has taken ordinary people and done extraordinary things. Be recklessly willing to give your brokenness for God's glory and perhaps someone may be writing about you.
I think about this question every year, so I thought it good to ask you, the reader to think about and answer if you wish. Give it thought, serious thought. See if you know how much our world has been affected by Advent.
What if Christ never came into the world; what would the holiday season be like?
There would be no holiday season for one. That means no Santa, Christmas carols, family gatherings, school "winter celebrations," no shopping or gift giving. There would be no paid days off, no football Christmas Day, no big meal other than the normal daily dinner.
If Jesus had not come to redeem mankind, wipe the slate of our sins clean with the shedding of his blood, there would also be no Easter either. There would be no ACLU fighting to remove religious artifacts from stores, or secular judges ruling that the displaying of the manger scene is unconstitutional, citing the separation of church and state, (which, by the way, does not appear in the constitution).
The words, "do unto others"...would have never been heard, as well as, "For God so loved the world"...and "judge not, lest you be judged."
What else? How about anytime since the church of Jesus began, the flood of giving aid to victims of disasters? How would education be affected? Slavery? The arts? Literature? Science? Invention? Even Christians have no idea how Christ's birth affected these.
Think about that as we all enjoy the blessings and benefits of His atoning grace this season. And just so you know...there is more, much, much more.
Two things, and I'll keep this short. Quick thoughts for the quickened. Long post get likes but aren't seldom read.
This is Thursday, Dec.11, 2014. It is 5:23 in the afternoon. Here is a couple of questions for you to ask yourself:
1. What have I done for my recovery from addiction(s)?
2. There are 86,400 seconds in today.
Have I used one second to say thanks?
From this moment through what is left of today, stop and think of what may help turn your day around if you answered the above questions no.
1. Say thanks to God for your recovery, for keeping you alive, that you can read this...how grateful are you? If you're not "feeling it" right now, say thanks anyway, and add as many things as you can think of.
2. Are you planning to go to a meeting tonight? If you can't because of work, prior engagement, or you are bed-ridden, that's good reasons. I'm sure there are more. If you are just too busy with cleaning or cooking, watching your favorite shows on the boob-tube, or maybe inundated with emails and blogs you have to clean up, like me...stop, hit the meeting instead. Else you are on thin ice. Maybe not to the point of using, or getting drunk, but in the danger zone, heading that direction.
It is a busy season, but use your head. If you aren't moving toward recovery, you're moving away from it.
"First comes pride, then disgrace; but with the humble is wisdom." Prov. 11:2
We think one person has developed to the place in recovery that they are above temptation's ability to deceive them. Our admiration of such a person places them as heroic in our minds. Then, this mountain of stability takes a major tumble into relapse. Some of us are quick to point out why, in a judgmental pose from our own perch. Others say, what's my chance to stay clean and sober when someone with their knowledge of sober living comes to this? They go ahead and give up, and relapse. "What's the use?" they ask.
We cannot be deceived to think we are too full of recovery smarts that we cannot fall. Relapse can come from many sources, in ways unexpected. The first way is pride. The thought that we do not need to go to meetings regularly.
Never think that you have paid the price and can't see the need to get to meetings. Prideful people are very fast to judge other's sobriety. I really feel pride has such a negative impact on an individual that it's presence affects the spiritual plane of our existence, causing one to face the weaknesses they see in others.
Another biggie is complacency. This little booger is closely related to pride. The difference is the complacent individual is awareness they aren't above relapse. Their issue is not "feeling" like going, not feeling like reading positive materials, or praying, or helping others. This kills most people's recovery about a year, more or less, ahead of the actual fall back into their addiction.
Procrastination, the five syllables of death has ruined the recovery of many. Putting off working the steps to recovery, or doing the next right thing because they are so loaded down with other tasks they cannot see a meeting, calling their sponsor, or helping a neighbor, etc.
Also, some are laded with consequences from the past. They try too hard to "fix" or undo their past by taking on the bigger problems. If unsuccessful, they just quit. Do little things first, the big ones will become easier as each little problem solved builds confidence.
Religion can be a bad thing for a person choosing to go the church attendance route instead of AA, NA, GA, CR, etc. I am all for church attendance for aiding recovery. Keep this in mind; Recovery meetings teach you how to recover from your addictions, help you understand and accept and surrender what you have become, and help you learn to deal with consequences.
Church meetings can reinforce and help with these problems, but it is highly doubtful the weekly sermon will be about your recovery. Many take this route because of pride, not wanting anyone to know they are anything other than a sinner, not a weak, out-of-control addict or drunk.
There are other things that bring down the mightiest of recovering individuals. For your information, I don't have these thoughts from just observing others. I have, and still do face many of these issues personally. My enemy, or addiction is me. Self- serving is my real problem, addictions to anything are side effects.
For all of us working our recovery, don't get too smart. Don't be dishonest of where you are when things are awry. Total honesty is an admission that may save us from pride, complacency, and putting off recovery. The season of joy is here when we celebrate the birth of Christ, and welcome the new year. Humbly ask God's help for understanding the purpose of Christ's coming, and the purpose He has for you today, the upcoming year, and direction to keep you from falling. What do you think?