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Step 2, Bible Studies
All of us have times in our lives when we grow weary because of difficult situations and all of the struggles and conflicts of our lives. We need Jesus to renew our enthusiasm and our energy. We can depend on Him to restore our determination, our strength, our joy and our enthusiasm with His tender touch of compassionate love. Our Saviour really cares about us and He longs to see us happy. He is waiting for us to come to Him so that He can once again tell us how much He loves us and how precious we are to Him. Thank You, Jesus, for loving us.
...forgetting those things which are behind and reaching forward to those things which are ahead, I press toward the goal for the prize of the upward call of God in Christ Jesus. Philippians 3:13-14
I find myself looking forward to the year to come. Appropriately, I've been rereading the story of the Israelites' escape from Egypt and their "wilderness wanderings" on the way to the Promised Land. The Scriptures tell us that everything recorded in the Old Testament is there for our learning, and the amazing story of the Exodus is no exception.
Most of us know that this epic story is a picture of our being delivered from a life of sin into new life with Christ, and if we've had that very personal experience, we "get it," the Exodus part, at least.But do we get the rest of it? Do we understand that we were "brought out" so we could be "brought in?" God didn't simply send His only Son so we could escape death and hell (which is mercy, because we all deserve death and hell!) but so that we could experience the joy of a new life in Him (which none of us deserves, and that, my friends, is grace!).
I wonder how many of us miss out on so
We are who owns us. We derive our nature and uniqueness, our very selfhood, from our owner. Furthermore, we willingly join ourselves to God in Christ. Being forced to go to church, or feeling under coercion, ordered to be who we are, is like telling a bee it must gather pollen and fly to the hive. If it were unnatural to be who we are, the Christian life would be alien, foreign and against our will. But we belong to God.
All Mine are thine, and thine are mine, and I am glorified in them. John 17:10
Through His gracious generosity, in Christ Jesus, God has adopted us. We are not natural born, but supernaturally born children, through the cross and resurrection of Jesus; He owns us. That's the reality. Embracing any other owners, or powers is like swimming upstream or committing spiritual suicide. As long as we remember that we belong only to God, and continue to assemble to worship Him and do the work He has given us to do, we will be who we really are and do what we truly should do.
The character, Gollum, in J. R. R. Tolkien's "The Lord of the Rings," is a study in addiction and its pitfalls.
This creature was obsessed with the powerful properties of a much-desired ring. Transfixed, he often referred to it as "my precious." This preoccupation, over time, led to his changed, grotesque form; it also contributed to both his torment and his tragedy.
The story portrays Gollum as a struggling being who had "come to love and hate the Ring, just as he loved and hated himself." His unfortunate fate inevitably followed. Upon finally seizing the ring, he fell into a volcano's fires. Both he and his "precious" were destroyed.
Now, how's that for a cautionary tale?
There's a theory out there which asserts we have only two jobs in life:
1) to learn
2) to cope.
Spiritually, if we expound on this principle, we can see Divine Intervention at work, should we choose to embrace it.
The First Job: To Learn:
Scripture addresses our human need to learn. Proverbs 1:7 and Proverbs 4:7, for instance, are just a couple of verses which tout the important of wisdom.
The fear of the LORD is the beginning of knowledge: but fools despise wisdom and instruction.
Wisdom is the principal thing; therefore get wisdom: and with all thy getting get understanding.
And, again, we are in dire need of this wisdom, as Paul reminds us of our vulnerable human condition...
While sifting through my childhood toys, I happened upon some Weebles.
What are they - and what do they do?
"...an egg-shaped Weeble causes a weight located at the bottom-center to be lifted off the ground. Once released, gravitational force brings the Weeble back into an upright position... The popular catchphrase, 'Weebles wobble, but they don't fall down.' was used in advertising during their rise in popularity..." https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Weeble
As I was reunited with these toys, I remembered how, in my playtime, I often tried to put my Weebles to bed, lying them on their sides, only to watch them quickly spring to their vertical stance again. There was no keeping these suckers down.
"Weebles wobble but they don't fall down."
You better believe it.
Therefore, reacquainting myself with them in my adult life, I now view them through the recovery/struggle context and the famous Serenity Prayer:
For as he thinketh in his heart, so is he... Proverbs 23:7
Senator Cory Booker, on an appearance of "The Daily Show," recently shared a powerful lesson with the audience:
"My father told me there are two ways to go through life: as a thermometer or as a thermostat. A thermometer: whatever someone says about you, you go up or down. A thermostat: you set the temperature."
Both the thermometer and the thermostat reflect life and its issues, including our stance on addiction and recovery.
And our choice has significant ramifications concerning health, well-being and prosperity. Each option offers its inevitable results.
So, it might be worth our while to ponder what those very results may mean for us.
First, the thermometer: its appeal is that self-gratifying moment. It doesn't require much work. You just let your feelings rip.
When you are inclined to worry -- don't do it! That is the first thing. No matter how much reason there seems to be for worrying -- still, there is your rule. Do not break it -- don't worry! Matters may be greatly tangled, so tangled that you cannot see how they ever can be straightened out; still, don't worry! Troubles may be very real and very sore, and there may not seem a rift in the clouds; nevertheless, don't worry! You say the rule is too high for human observance -- that mortals cannot reach it; or you say there must be some exceptions to it -- that there are peculiar circumstances in which one cannot but worry. But wait a moment. What did the Master teach? "I tell you, do not worry about your life, what you will eat or drink; or about your body, what you will wear." He left no exceptions.
What did Paul teach? "Don't worry about anything!" He did not say a word about exceptions to the rule -- but left it unqualified and absolute. A good bit of homely, practical, common-sense wisdom, says that there are two classes of things we should not worry about -- things we can help, and things we cannot help.
Evils we can (correct) -- we ought to (correct). If the roof leaks -- we ought to mend it; if the fire is burning low and the room growing cold -- we ought to put on more fuel; if the fence is tumbling down, so as to let our neighbor's cattle into our wheat field -- we had better repair the fence than sit down and worry over the troublesomeness of people's cows; if we have dyspepsia and it makes us feel badly -- we had better look to our diet and our exercise. That is, we are very silly if we worry about things we can help. Help them! That is the heavenly wisdom for that sort of ills or cares -- that is the way to cast that kind of burden on the Lord.
Years ago, there was a popular song, "Feelings."
As the lyrics go, "feelings, nothing more than feelings...whoa...whoa...whoa..."
(It's bad Karaoke, let me tell ya).
Anyway, I've been giving some thought to the feelings factor. I've seen how it has done some damage in my own life. Temper tantrums, crying jags, meltdowns of epic proportion- whatever you want to call them - feelings, let's be real, rarely lead us to make great decisions which improve our lives.
But wreck our lives? Well, that's a different story.
For those of us in recovery, for those of us coming from abuse, the feelings thing is a tricky course to navigate. In my case, because feelings weren't safe in my home, growing up, I learned to suppress, stuff, until...boom! Explosion happened. Not a good coping mechanism.
And so, a girl of extremes, when life moved on, I was determined to fully express my feelings whenever I had them. Oh yeah. This was fun and games. No one was going to control me!
Hence, I was OUT of control.
The cliché in life is true: it's about balance and moderation. And that was NOT something I was good at. I was not good at dealing, in a healthy with my emotions.
Scripture tells us, like it or not, we all need to do this:
Keep thy heart with all diligence; for out of it are the issues of life. Proverbs 4:23
Years after the immediate damage of both my eating disorders and my childhood abuse, God has patiently- and gradually- led me into honestly looking at my heart, the factory producing all of these blessed feelings in the first place.
I must admit, my favorite question is "why?"
I ask it a lot: of God, of others, of myself, of life.
And yes, I ask the why question concerning the tricky addiction/recovery issue.
Author, Jonathan Lockwood Huie really takes that matter to task, using two words.
It's not merely a question; it's a statement... about the significance of urgency.
And this is right up addiction's alley. The fix driving the addiction- why?
Why is this my answer?
Why will this solve things?
Why will nothing else do?
Why must I be instantly healed?
It is that last question which brought two scripture passages to my mind: Jairus' daughter and Lazarus.