Hope

“For whatever was written in former days was written for our instruction, that through endurance and through the encouragement of the Scriptures we might have hope. May the God of hope fill you with all joy and peace in believing, so that by the power of the Holy Spirit you may abound in hope.” Romans 15:4, 13 ESV. http://bible.com/59/rom.15.4,13.esv

Hope is a byproduct of living through difficulty with endurance. If Peter’s denial of Christ means anything, it gives us the confidence that, by God’s grace and mercy, there are second chances. We will make mistakes. We will deny Christ in word and deed. But if we acknowledge our errors and remain faithful in believing, by the power of the Holy Spirit we may abound in hope.

None of this is our own doing. It is through the God of hope that we may be filled with joy and peace in believing. Our task is to find encouragement in the Scriptures, to remain in Christ, and to endure. We must learn that the most profound lessons of life are given by God for our good. Life will throw all kinds of shit at us, and it takes discipline and also patience to endure it. Our God is a God of hope and he sends us his Holy Spirit so that we may also be alive with hope.

Without hope we are dead. We live like corpses, dumbfounded as if sleepwalking. There is so much more to life, if we are just a little willing to live with hope. And hope doesn’t have to stretch into the distant future. We can hope that this afternoon God will instruct us in His will. He makes known to us the path of life, bit by bit, not all at once. This is for our own good, because if we had the entire plan, we would be discouraged and crushed under the sheer weight of its entirety. So don’t worry about tomorrow. Today has enough to deal with so save what hope you have for this afternoon. God, by his great grace, will show us the way.

Guidance for the Next Generation

“. . . you may tell the next generation that this is God, our God forever and ever. He will guide us forever.” Psalms 48:13-14 ESV http://bible.com/59/psa.48.13-14.esv

We recognize we know only a little. God will constantly disclose more to us. God, what can I do today to help anyone who is still sick? I want my relationship with you to be based on your truth and your will for my life. I abandon myself to you. I am an addict. I objectify myself and push limits of lust. Help me to stay sober today. I am powerless over lust and I cannot manage my own life.

I’m on the path of recovery but I’m also struggling. I’m trying to keep people around me by going to meetings, calling my sponsor and inviting folks over for dinner. But I can’t be with people all the time, and the truth is that I’d rather isolate myself than deal with recovery.

None-the-less, I’m trying to focus on others. Helping the next generation see that this is our God for eternity and that He will guide us forever is important in keeping me sober. It helps to focus on others instead of myself and my disease. I want attention. I crave positive feedback. I still get defensive when someone says something that challenges me. I am too easily paralyzed by a negative word or sometimes even a glance. I am insecure so trying to help others is frightening. I am in bondage to my self image. Relieve me from the bondage of self that I may better do your will. May I do your will always.

Addiction is a Spiritual Problem

“My soul will be satisfied as with fat and rich food, and my mouth will praise you with joyful lips,”. Psalms‬ ‭63:5‬ ‭ESV‬‬

http://bible.com/59/psa.63.5.esv

“He does not deal with us according to our sins, nor repay us according to our iniquities.” Psalms‬ ‭103:10‬ ‭ESV‬‬

http://bible.com/59/psa.103.10.esv

The notion that a soul can be satisfied with fat and rich food would suggest that the spiritual and the physical are inseparable. It stands to reason then, that my addiction is not merely a physical problem. It is rooted in something deeper, something more foundational.

Any addiciton is a substitute for God in our life. Everyone, whether they believe so or not, has a God shaped space. We call it a heart or soul, but whatever it is called, it is meant to be filled by a loving God. Yet, we look to fill it with pleasure, love for self or selfishness, alcohol, food, sex, codependency or a host of other things. This is why Chesterton says that when we enter a brothel, we are really looking for God. Our need to fill this space will be satisfied, if with some counterfeit to God’s deep love.

So to resist the temptation toward our addiction, we must not only stay sober from whatever our addict desires. We must also reshape our attitude toward ourselves, that we are created for good, and reform our thinking to acknowledge the need for a power greater than ourselves to overcome our addict.

Thankfully God knows of our tendency to look to fill the spiritual void in all the wrong places. The Bible calls this sin, and no matter what you call it, God does not deal with us accordingly nor does He repay evil with evil, but with love.

“The Lord is merciful and gracious, slow to anger and abounding in steadfast love.” Psalms‬ ‭103:8‬ ‭ESV‬‬

http://bible.com/59/psa.103.8.esv

Oppression

“By day the Lord commands his steadfast love, and at night his song is with me, a prayer to the God of my life. I say to God, my rock: “Why have you forgotten me? Why do I go mourning because of the oppression of the enemy?” As with a deadly wound in my bones, my adversaries taunt me, while they say to me all the day long, “Where is your God?” Why are you cast down, O my soul, and why are you in turmoil within me? Hope in God; for I shall again praise him, my salvation and my God.” Psalms‬ ‭42:8-11‬ ‭ESV‬‬ http://bible.com/59/psa.42.8-11.esv

I am oppressed by my addict. Crafting and cunning, he leads me to where I do not want to go. Hyde takes me to the edge of the great precipice just as Christ was taken to the top of the Temple by Satan. He says, “Jump into the abyss. There is great pleasure there.” He leads me to believe that I will be in control in that space. Why do I go mourning because of the oppression of Mr. Hyde? He taunts me that to be a grown up, I must leap into the darkness.

O my soul, why are you in turmoil within me? God, why have you forgotten me? Why do I go about mourning because of the oppression of my addict? The Lord’s song is with me, a prayer to the God of my life. When I don’t know how to pray or what to pray for, God’s spirit intervenes. He says the prayer I cannot say for myslef.

My only hope is to hope in God. He makes known the path of life for today. Oh God, bring into my awareness your will. Thy will be done in the moment for today. I am grateful that you will never leave me nor forsake me. Have mercy on me. You are my salvation and my God.

Stillness, Still

“Be still before the Lord and wait patiently for him; fret not yourself over the one who prospers in his way, over the man who carries out evil devices! For the evildoers shall be cut off, but those who wait for the Lord shall inherit the land. But the meek shall inherit the land and delight themselves in abundant peace.” Psalms 37:7, 9, 11 ESV http://bible.com/59/psa.37.7,9,11.esv

“The steps of a man are established by the Lord, when he delights in his way; though he fall, he shall not be cast headlong, for the Lord upholds his hand. The law of his God is in his heart; his steps do not slip. Wait for the Lord and keep his way, and he will exalt you to inherit the land; you will look on when the wicked are cut off.” Psalms 37:23-24, 31, 34 ESV http://bible.com/59/psa.37.23-24,31,34.esv

Lord, I want to delight in the way I am going. Must I change direction to delight more. My life is a wreck. In the ruins I have anguish and intense temptation to leave the path. My thoughts are not your thoughts. Still, my way is my own, though I want to surrender my life to you. I let out the life line only to pull hard to have it back.

The war wages in my soul between my addict and my real self. Yet, reality is allusive. My addict laughs, scoffs at his control or more importantly, at my lack of it. The new way is not the old way reformed. It is returning to the dust, starting afresh, and becoming something totally different.

Establish my steps and place your word in my heart. Blessed is the one who does not walk in the counsel of the ungodly, nor stand in the way of sinners, nor sit in the seat of scoffers. His delight is in the law of the Lord. In all that he does, he prospers. Wait for the Lord, trust also in Him and He will bring His work to completion. This is God’s way. This is the way I want to walk.

Wait a Minute

“Indeed, none who wait for you shall be put to shame; they shall be ashamed who are wantonly treacherous. Make me to know your ways, O Lord; teach me your paths. Lead me in your truth and teach me, for you are the God of my salvation; for you I wait all the day long.” Psalms 25:3-5 ESV http://bible.com/59/psa.25.3-5.esv

More waiting is in front of me. I am taught through the waiting, through the silence. God’s still, small voice is available to me in these quiet moments. The hum of the frig, the chirp of birds and the plane overhead are either distractions or simply the background music for God’s oratory on my heart. Which it is depends on my receptivity.

I am thankful that when I wait, shame cannot reach me. My poor decisions leading to sin are erased completely in the silence. I breath in God’s rich, refreshing grace and exhale my selfishness, my self centered attitudes.

The sun is warm through the window. It is the loving embrace of God sending me into the day to share His love with others. His way is a path of love. It is the way of justice, mercy and humility. His Truth, Jesus, is my guide and my teacher. Help me to be willing to traverse the rocky with the smooth. Victory through the difficult parts bears whiteness to those I would help of Thy power, Thy love and Thy way of life. May I do your will always.

The LORD Is With Me

“For the Lord takes pleasure in his people; he adorns the humble with salvation.” Psalms‬ ‭149:4‬ ‭ESV‬‬ http://bible.com/59/psa.149.4.esv

“Have I not commanded you? Be strong and courageous! Do not tremble or be dismayed, for the LORD your God is with you wherever you go.”” ‭‭Joshua‬ ‭1:9‬ ‭NASB‬‬ http://bible.com/100/jos.1.9.nasb

Difficult days have passed. My soul is numb with grief over what I have done. Yet yesterday, by God’s grace, I was able to wait through the suffering and experience the deep, deep pain without running to hide or isolating myself or resorting to old habits. God’s grace was sufficient in my weakness to make me strong. His power was made perfect in my weakness.

Above all trust in the slow work of God. I am quite naturally impatient in getting to the end without delay. I would like to skip the intermediate stages. I am impatient of being on the way to something unknown , something new. I am on the road less traveled and it is making all the difference.

I am working hard to recover from my addiction. Yet I am discouraged to find that this work is not yet bearing fruit in my relationship with my wife. She does not know me. She does not believe me. She does not trust me. Yet, by God’s grace in my recovery, I do speak the truth.

My complete honesty was confirmed in another polygraph on Saturday. When under the machine, I am bound around my chest and a cuff is tight around my right bicep. I can’t take a deep cleansing breath without messing up the results and my speech must be soft and quiet. I feel like a trapped animal. But God quieted my heart, I told the complete truth, and the elusive machine with it’s wiggly lines confirmed it was so.

I know I have brought pain to myself and even greater pain to my wife for forty years of marriage through my addiction. On Friday, I confirmed the deceit and lies I have lived when I read to her the emotional restitution letter I had written. There is nothing I can do now but wait on the Lord. In Him is the strength I need, measured out only for this moment.

The Lord takes pleasure in his people. He is with me wherever I go. I will look unto the mountains. From where does my help come? It comes from the Lord who made the heavens and the earth. He will not allow my foot to slip. He will guard my going out and my coming in from this time forth and forever.

Help me to be fully present today to see the opportunities you bring to me to share the healing presence of Christ with others. What can I do today for those who are still sick? Whenever appropriate, grant me the courage to share how God is healing me from addiction.