Crisis

Suppose God has brought you up to a crisis and you nearly go through but not quite, He will engineer the crisis again, but it will not be so keen as it was before. There will be less discernment of God and more humiliation at not having obeyed; and if you go on grieving the Spirit, there will come a time when that crisis cannot be repeated, you have grieved Him away. But if you go through the crisis, there will be the psalm of praise to God. Never sympathize with the thing that is stabbing God all the time. God has to hurt the thing that must go. – O. Chambers

“He changes rivers into a wilderness And springs of water into a thirsty ground; A fruitful land into a salt waste, Because of the wickedness of those who dwell in it. He changes a wilderness into a pool of water And a dry land into springs of water; And there He makes the hungry to dwell, So that they may establish an inhabited city,” Psalms 107:33-36 NASB. http://bible.com/100/psa.107.33-36.nasb

I’ve always thought of wickedness as a really, really bad thing, something I would never do. But according to Chambers, it seems that wickedness disguises itself as some choice I need to make. When God brings me up to a crisis, I’ve got a choice to lean in or run. For fifty years, I have run from the crisis of addiction in my life.

Leaning in means that I need to get help but my addicted personality believes it can handle everything on its own. My addict is very self-centered, very self-absorbed, cunning and crafty. When I submit to God, it means I must also submit to someone else by sharing that which I do not want to share. This is bringing to light what my addict wants to keep hidden. Staying in the light is the only way to stop the addiction.

And living in the crisis takes time, especially when I have done everything I can to avoid dealing with it for fifty years. Rivers were turning into wilderness and fruitful lands into a salty waste. My focus was on managing my secret and it was taking more and more time and energy. I would feed the addict and sanitize my surroundings so no one would know.

Finally I admitted to myself and to God what was going on, then to my family and friends. I pledged to be honest on September 24, 2017, and I’ve been keeping that promise. It is still really hard to tell my therapist everything and I mean everything. Keeping short accounts is almost impossible. I’ve said things to people that I fully believed I’d carry alone to my grave. Honesty brings freedom but also the pain of responsibility and recovery.

In recovery, God begins to change the desert created by addiction into springs of water. I have confessed the iniquity of my sin to God and He has forgiven me. “Blessed is the man against whom the Lord counts no iniquity, in whom there is no deceit.” Ps 32 I am truly blessed in this way.

God will clear the wreckage of my past. I’m getting more and more used to who I am as created by God, while living into the pain I have caused my wife, my family and my friends. I doubt if the pain will ever completely subside, but by God’s grace, I believe it will diminish more and more if I stay in recovery and in relationship with God and others.

So I’m willing to walk in my crisis. I’m not happy about it. Some days I’m just willing to be willing, and somehow because that’s being honest, it is enough. I’ve got a long way to go in recovery and I’m waiting on the Lord, trusting in the slow work of God. I’d rather skip to the end of the story, past all the intermediate steps. But I’m learning that is not God’s way of doing things.

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.

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.

Patient Trust

Above all, trust in the slow work of God. We are quite naturally impatient in everything to reach the end without delay. We should like to skip the intermediate stages. We are impatient of being on the way to something unknown, something new. And yet it is the law of all progress that it is made by passing through some stags of instability – and that it may take a long time.

And so I think it is with you. Your ideas mature gradually – let them grow, let them shape themselves, without undue haste. Don’t try to force them on, as though you could be today what time (that is to say, grace and circumstances acting on your own good will) will make of you tomorrow.

Only God could say what this new spirit gradually forming within you will be. Give our Lord the benefit of believing that his hand is leading you, and accept the anxiety of feeling yourself in suspense and incomplete.

– Pierre Teilhard de Chardin SJ

Wait a minute . . .

One sub theme in the biblical narrative is to wait, to not be anxious, to bring silence and peace to all circumstances. “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!” Psalms‬ ‭37:7‬ ‭ESV‬‬ http://bible.com/59/psa.37.7.esv

To slow down in a culture that moves at the speed of light is a difficult task. To sit in silence and to breathe deeply seems like an undeserved luxury, or in my anxious moments, it is so counterintuitive it seems to bind me in chains like I’m in a prison cell. I can’t sit still without squirming. If I’m honest, I don’t want to hear the still small voice of God. I want a god who speaks in thunder and lightening, not one who speaks in the silence. I want a god who immediately heals my deepest wounds without any suffering.

When I can hold a space for silence, God’s quiet voice speaks more personally to me. It’s a voice of steadfast love and faithfulness. It’s not about speaking in tongues nor angelic voices that are loud gongs and clashing cymbals. If I’m willing to follow, God moves slowly and quietly in my life gently nudging me one way then another and healing me bit by bit.

My work is to not be deaf to God’s voice. He is speaking as awesomely and as mysteriously as the wind trembles through an Aspen forest. But there are moments when there is no wind. The air is sweet and still. What can I do but to wait patiently and wonder? The only air that moves now is His spirit, in and out through my own lungs. The life giving air rushing into my nostrils, held only for a quarter rest and then rushing out is the breath of God in me, the hope of glory.

So I will sit in silence and wait. Only God can say what this new spirit gradually forming within me will be. I will give the Lord God the benefit of believing that his hand is leading me, and accept the anxiety of feeling in suspense and incomplete. – adapted from a prayer by Pierre Teilhard de Chardin.

“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 ‭37:34‬ ‭ESV‬‬ http://bible.com/59/psa.37.34.esv

“Mark the blameless and behold the upright, for there is a future for the man of peace.” Psalms‬ ‭37:37‬ ‭ESV‬‬ http://bible.com/59/psa.37.37.esv