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.

Still I Am Learning

“It’s a dangerous thing to refuse to continue learning and knowing.” – Oswald Chambers

When Michelangelo was in his eighties he is reported to have said, “ancora imparo” which means, “still I am learning.” In the 1500s living into your eighties was not an easy task. He was drawing and sculpting at that age as well. I want to be a life long learner like Michelangelo.

“The fear of the LORD is the instruction for wisdom, And before honor comes humility.” Proverbs‬ ‭15:33‬ ‭NASB‬‬. http://bible.com/100/pro.15.33.nasb

In other places in Scripture it says, “The fear of the Lord is the beginning of Wisdom.” Psalms 111:10

When we keep learning, we place ourselves in the hands of humility. We realize we don’t know everything, and moreover, even that we don’t know much at all. If we aren’t learning, we limit our ability to change and to grow. Haughty people live like they know more than they really do. Humble people realize how much they don’t know. They remain curious and can wonder about things.

In addiction, if a person won’t learn, they can’t change. Old habits not only die hard, they need to be replaced with new ones. Being open to new learning is a key to this process. That’s why it’s dangerous to refuse to learn or to know new things. Without an openness to learning, we get stuck in our old ways of thinking. And since knowing is so closely linked to doing, we aren’t able to do those things that will move us out of our old addictive behaviors.

Broad Phylacteries and Long Fringes

“Likewise the Spirit helps us in our weakness. For we do not know what to pray for as we ought, but the Spirit himself intercedes for us with groanings too deep for words. And he who searches hearts knows what is the mind of the Spirit, because the Spirit intercedes for the saints according to the will of God. 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 ‭8:26-28‬ ‭ESV‬‬ http://bible.com/59/rom.8.26-28.esv
“So do and observe whatever they tell you, but not the works they do. For they preach, but do not practice. They tie up heavy burdens, hard to bear, and lay them on people’s shoulders, but they themselves are not willing to move them with their finger. They do all their deeds to be seen by others. For they make their phylacteries broad and their fringes long, and they love the place of honor at feasts and the best seats in the synagogues and greetings in the marketplaces and being called rabbi by others.” Matthew‬ ‭23:3-7‬ ‭ESV‬. http://bible.com/59/mat.23.3-7.esv

My greatest sin is self preservation. I am guarded. I won’t reveal something about myself unless I know there will be some benefit to my reputation. I want to be noticed and important. I want people to mention my broad phylacties and super long fringes to their friends.

Lord, help me live today by your mercy and according to your will. I suffer from flashbacks to times and encounters that fan the flames of lust and addiction. My mind is trapped with images and the memories of euphoric experiences. I am too weak to free myslef and cannot even pray that the chains that bind me to my addict may fall off. “For [I] do not know how to pray as [I] ought, but the Spirit himself intercedes for [me] with groanings too deep for words.

Lord have mercy on me. I do that which I don’t want to do and the things I should do I leave for another day. Yet, even typing these words has helped to release me from bondage. This is the healing miracle of confession.

Humble yourself before me and I will raise you up to give greater praise to my name. Those who consider how great are their sins, how small their virtues, and how far they are from godly perfection are far more acceptable in the sight of God, than those who dispute about their greatness or smallness. – Thomas A Kempis

Step One

We travel any path better when we travel together.

I read my story of addiction to the fellowship today. It was not that hard in the moment to get through it, but when I listened to the responses, one of the only times that meetings allow cross talk, I was reminded how shocking my story is to those who are hearing it for the first time.

I was completely honest about my character defects. My acting out stems from my lack of self-confidence and my inability to “feel” manly. I’m not effeminate, but I do wish I had the constitution of a stronger man and I mean that much more than simply being strong physically.

I was surprised that a number of the people present commented on how much courage it took to tell my particular story so well. This seemed to have to do with my ability to articulate various aspects of my addiction as well as that I had already shared much of my addictive behavior with my family.

I am fully known and accepted into the fellowship. My hope is that the wounds of addiction would continue to heal, that I will grow in recovery and be able to share my journey in a way that is helpful to others.

Hope – The Need to Wake Up

“For I consider that the sufferings of this present time are not worth comparing with the glory that is to be revealed to us. For the creation waits with eager longing for the revealing of the sons of God. For the creation was subjected to futility, not willingly, but because of him who subjected it, in hope that the creation itself will be set free from its bondage to corruption and obtain the freedom of the glory of the children of God. For we know that the whole creation has been groaning together in the pains of childbirth until now. And not only the creation, but we ourselves, who have the firstfruits of the Spirit, groan inwardly as we wait eagerly for adoption as sons, the redemption of our bodies. For in this hope we were saved. Now hope that is seen is not hope. For who hopes for what he sees? But if we hope for what we do not see, we wait for it with patience.” Romans 8:18-25 ESV http://bible.com/59/rom.8.18-25.esv

“”Teacher, which is the great commandment in the Law?” And he said to him, “You shall love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind. This is the great and first commandment. And a second is like it: You shall love your neighbor as yourself. On these two commandments depend all the Law and the Prophets.”” Matthew 22:36-40 ESV http://bible.com/59/mat.22.36-40.esv

What do I hope for, a life without suffering, a love for my neighbor. My love for myself seems shallow, like I’m wading in a kiddie pool while all along the deep blue ocean is steps away. Is my hope deep enough and wide enough to include that which I do not yet see? “Hope that is seen is not hope.” So I long for the day when my body is redeemed, when I am set free from the addiction that keeps me captive.

Every day is a struggle to stay sober. Words and images gush into my head calling me to do that which I do not want to do. I am agitated like a trapped wild animal licking its wounds. I am vulnerable to attack. ““But each person is tempted when he is lured and enticed by his own desire.”James 1:14 ESV I am lured into jumping from the cliff into the abyss. It is deep and dark. I am tempted to be alone in the darkness, to hide from contact with others.

I grown inwardly to be adopted into the household of God. There is great inner conflict. My natural state is to medicate loneliness with isolation. But, I know the way to healing leads through relationships. There is pain in the open wounds produced by confession. But the healing balm is honesty, first with myself and then with others. Greater love has no man but this, that he lay down his life for another. Am I able to accept this deep love from another? My embarrassment overshadows my ability to accept such love as this. Knowing that I am weak and in need, that I am powerless to do anything about my own addiction, that I need God and others in order to be free keeps me from full surrender.

Yet, not my will but thy will be done. I will wait for hope with patience. I do not see the end where I will be made perfect and complete lacking nothing, but that is what I will hope for, a time and a place where I am a new creature, the old has passed away and everything is new.

“The battle against inertia. In the life and in myself. This is the great thing. The constant struggle to break through illusion and falsity and come to Christ and freedom. How often we fail . . . The conviction that I have not even begun to write, to think, to pray, and to live, and that only now am I getting down to waking up.”– Thomas Merton, June 22, 1958

Beloved Father, I am in your hands, I bow myself under your correction and discipline. – Thomas A Kempis