Beyond Covid 19, Addiction, and Divorce: Hope for a New Life
Today’s photo of sunset over Saratoga Lake from the vantage point of Doc Brown’s at Browns Beach Marina in Saratoga Springs comes to us from yours truly as I spent this past Saturday evening enjoying the company of new friends and the festive atmosphere of a Skeeter Creek musical performance. I haven’t been to an outdoor concert of any size in years and the experience was great on so many levels.
First, in what I will declare as the dwindling days of Covid-19, it was awesome to be out in public with so many people to enjoy the wonderful weather and good times at an outdoor concert. The lead singers of Skeeter Creek commented more than once about how good it was to be out performing and getting to see old friends that they had been separated from. The mini concert was a celebration of life and the general lack of masks made us all remember what things were like before 2020 and gave us the hope that despite the persistent fear that still exists many of us are going to live our lives much like we did before the pandemic.
Second, it was a personally great for me in terms of my new life and leaving the darkness of addiction behind. Even though I was in a festive party atmosphere where alcohol was flowing, I honestly felt no temptation to drink and felt comfortable in my own skin. I was relaxed and was able to dance and sing along with the band as I discovered that I don’t need booze to be uninhibited and enjoy the company of others. I give all the glory to God, of course, because through the years He has helped me to mature to this level through faith in Christ and the renewing of my mind. I’m so glad that I went out because this experience proves to me that the Lord really has taken “the hooks of addiction” out of me and I can live the rest of my life with confidence and don’t have to limit where I can go to enjoy life and to share the hope and love that Christ put in me.
And finally, the experience was good for me relationally, meaning I could go out with no expectations or overwhelming desire to find romance. To be honest, in the wake of my divorce, my devastated heart cried out for me to fill the void that my divorce from my ex created.
To be totally transparent, I have already been disappointed a couple of times by what I considered to be adequate candidates for the position of “new wife” as I was politely but definitively rejected.
In hindsight, I am relieved that I didn’t have success because in both cases I had ignored incompatibility issues or had invested myself way too deeply emotionally before establishing an actual relationship. I was willing to look past red flags to the exclusion of reason or to quote the wisdom of Air Supply’s 80’s hit, I was “making love out of nothing at all.”
So with those disappointments, and some close self-evaluation, I have come to a place where I am comfortable with myself and don’t have to find a romantic partner to be complete. So while I could appreciate the beauty of the women that were around me at this event, I didn’t feel the need to chase after them as I would have in the single days of my past. I realized that in the past I had to put in much effort to get involved in my romantic entanglements and that because I wasn’t looking for “Ms. Right Now” I was safe from repeating mistakes of the past.
I was also strangely relieved in the fact that I am not completely irresistible to women and didn’t have to worry because nobody was interested in me anyway. That’s not false humility, that’s just reality and I’m okay with that. Again, I would have to give God the glory for bringing me to this place of peace. From this sense of peace and contentment, I will choose to follow His lead for the rest of my life and will see whether His plan includes a new spouse or not.
So don’t be afraid to go out and have some fun this summer, but when you do make sure you get right with God and honestly examine where you are in life. If we start a pursuit of happiness that we think will be fulfilled by experiences or relationships that don’t include God, we will eventually be disappointed as we either compromise who He has made us to be, or we make choices that lack the wisdom and discernment that He can give us when we walk with Him.
This morning’s meditation verse is:
Matthew 28:20 (NKJV)
20 teaching them to observe all things that I have commanded you; and lo, I am with you always, even to the end of the age." Amen.
Today’s verse is the last verse in the book of Matthew, directly relates to my current ministry, and provides us with eternal comfort.
In the previous verse, 19, Jesus directs us to go into all the nations to make disciples and to baptize them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit.
While I have led corporate prayers of salvation/rededication in different settings over the years, no one has reported that my efforts lead them to a saving relationship with Christ. Also, other than myself, and my kids, in the family swimming pool during the early days of my salvation, I haven’t baptized anyone.
So while I can’t make the claim that I was integral in “making” disciples, I can say I have been active in teaching “believers” to observe all the things that Christ has commanded us to do over the last 6 years.
While our previous ministry was deemed a recovery ministry, the reasons why we needed to deviate from calling ourselves a Celebrate Recovery ministry was because from the start our ministry at Rock Solid Church didn’t fit that simple categorization because we included aspects of Christian discipleship that went beyond AA’s 12 Steps or Celebrate Recovery’s 8 principles.
My participation in the Celebrate Freedom Recovery Ministry, and the transition to the Community Freedom Discipleship Classes at Rock Solid Church has all been motivated by my desire to teach believers in Christ to become disciples of Christ and to experience their freedom in Christ in the process.
And as Christ’s words in theses verses at the end of Matthew indicate, He calls us all to teach others what He has commanded us to do. That goes for every Christian. In Christ we all have infinite value to those around us because what we know has the potential to pull someone from utter destruction or to lead a Christian into a deeper relationship with God.
So make sure that you speak up when people need to hear the truth or the words of encouragement that the Lord has given you. His last words in this verse assure us of His presence in our lives even to the end of the age, so we are to take comfort in that promise and do our best to bring others to know it too.
As always, I invite all to go to mt4christ.org where I always share insights from prominent Christian counselors to assist my brothers and sisters in Christ with their walk.
Today we continue with Dr. Neil Anderson’s Victory Over the Darkness, beginning Chapter 3.
As always, I share this information for educational purposes and encourage all to purchase Dr. Anderson’s books for your own private study and to support His work. If you need this title you can find it online at several sites for less than $15.00:
See Yourself for Who You Really Are
Claire attended a church college ministry I was involved in several years ago. On a physical, material level, Claire had absolutely nothing going for her. She had a dumpy figure and a poor complexion. Her father was a drunken bum who had deserted his family. Her mother worked two menial jobs just to make ends meet. Her older brother, a drug addict, was always in and out of the house.
When I first met Claire, I was sure she was the ultimate wallflower. I didn't think there was any way she could compete for acceptance in a college-aged society that is attracted to physical beauty and material success. To my pleasant surprise, though, everybody in the group liked Claire and loved to be around her. She had lots of friends, and eventually she married the nicest guy in the college department.
What was her secret? Claire simply accepted herself for who God said she was in Christ, and she confidently committed herself to God's great goal for her life: to love people and grow in Christ. She wasn't a threat to anyone. Instead, she was so positive and caring toward others that everyone loved her.
Derek, a man in his early 30s, was enrolled in our missions program at Talbot School of Theology several years ago. I barely knew Derek until he attended a conference where I spoke about the critical importance of understanding our spiritual identity in Christ. The next week he came to see me and tell me his story.
Derek grew up with a father who demanded perfection in everything his son did. Derek was an intelligent, talented young man, but no matter how hard he tried or how well he succeeded, he seemed unable to please his father. The man continually pushed his son for better performance.
Striving to fulfill his father's expectations, Derek earned an appointment to the United States Naval Academy and qualified for flight school. He achieved what most young men only dream about: becoming a member of the elite corps of Navy fliers.
"After I completed my obligation to the Navy," Derek told me, "I decided that I wanted to please God with my life. But I saw God as a perfectionistic heavenly shadow of my earthly father, and I figured the only way I could fulfill His expectations for me was to become a missionary. I'll be honest with you. I enrolled in the missions program for the same reason I went to Annapolis: to please a demanding Father.
"Then I attended your conference last Saturday. I had never heard that I am unconditionally loved and accepted by my heavenly Father and I never understood who I already am in Christ. I've always worked so hard to please Him by what I do, just as I struggled to please my natural father. I didn't realize that I already please Him by who I am in Christ. Now I know that I don't have to be a missionary to please God, so I'm changing my major to practical theology."
Derek studied for a practical theology degree for about a year. Then he had the opportunity to serve on a short-term missions team in Spain. When Derek returned from his trip he burst into my office and excitedly told me about his ministry experience in Spain. "I'm changing my major again," he concluded.
"To missions, right?" I responded with a smile.
"Right," Derek beamed. "But I'm not going into missions because I need God's approval. I know God already loves and accepts me as His child. Now I'm planning to be a missionary because I love Him and want to serve Him."
I told Derek, "That is the fundamental difference between being driven and being called."
Victory Over the Darkness: Realizing the Power of Your Identity in Christ.
God bless you all!
Join our “Victory over the Darkness” or “The Bondage Breaker” series of Discipleship Classes via the mt4christ247 podcast!
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Encouragement for the Path of Christian Discipleship