This is just a quick plug for something new and fun that I’ve found and am trying out. I’m a big fan of “fantasy role-playing” games (RPG). These are computer/video games set during the times of “swords and sorcerers.” My playing habits used to be “bad,” in that I would escape to this alternate reality for hours and hours at a time. I’ve actually had to work on sobriety from this form of time-wasting. (Sadness)
Great news! There are Apps out there that “gamify” real-life. This week, I’m trying out Habitica, which helps with establishing or breaking habits. So far, I love it! I can definitely see where it can be BOTH a helpful tool in self-improvement and a way to positively give me that RPG experience!
If you’re a Gamer, you might want to check it out!
Jonah, however, set out in the opposite direction in order to get away from the Lord.
Jonah 1:3 GNT
“What am I doing here?! I don’t belong here! I am certainly not comfortable in this place! I don’t know what to say or how to say it!”
This was my self-talk last night. My friend and I were leading Celebrate Recovery Worcester (pronounced Wusstah), an inner-city program. The setting can’t be more different than the suburban CRs I attend. But there I was (and wondering why!)
We had a couple of first-timers walk in during the meeting. I had no idea on how to relate to them. Thankfully, my friend could and did, and (to keep a long story short) we just might see them again. But had it been up to me, I fear my awkwardness would have led to nothing. Awkwardness, and fear. Yes, fear.
Even as we sat and talked, I was thinking about Jonah and how he ran the other way – trying to get as far away as possible – when God called him to go to the big city, Ninevah. I am not a city person, and I identify with Jonah’s reluctance because of this. But there I was, led by God’s purpose, and I needed to know (to relearn?) how I could do this.
First, God places us each where we are for a reason. In hindsight, I can see His perfect timing and how each phase of my journey has prepared me for the next, even when, at the time, it seemed all wrong.
Let each person lead the life that the Lord has assigned to him,
and to which God has called him.
1 Corinthians 7:17 ESV
You did not choose me, but I chose you and appointed you that you should go and bear fruit…
Sometimes God prefers that I’m uncomfortable. As Rick Thomas puts it, “God is calling you to do what you cannot do with the ability that you do not have… because His desire is for you to rely on Him… There will be times when God will accomplish things outside of your abilities.” (rickthomas.net) His power and glory will be on display, not anything of mine.
Second, Proverbs 3:5-6 says to trust in the Lord and lean not on my own understanding of things. Easier said than done! I often have to reassure myself that I am in full agreement with what God is doing with and through me, even when it is scary. I believe He “has put dreams in our hearts and writes a destiny for our lives. And if we trust Him enough to take Him at His word, we will find ourselves on a journey toward fulfillment of that dream.” (myfaithradio.com) (Of course, my problem is that I tend to try and envision what that fulfillment will look like. I get way ahead of Him!)
When I am afraid, I will trust in You.
(One of the first verses I found and memorized in my recovery.)
Third. Free will. Sort of. I always have the choice. Or do I? Did Jonah? I am tempted to distract myself; tempted to run like Jonah. “The flesh dies hard and unfortunately for many, they’ve opted to let their dream die before they’d ever allow their flesh to be confronted.” (myfaithradio.com) I remind myself that I choose God and His way. This helps me to really feel 2 Timothy 1:7, “For God gave us a spirit not of fear but of power and love.”
Fourth. Love. Love for others. A desire to see all get the chance that I did, to know the Creator.
But how will people call on Him in whom they have not believed?
And how will they believe in Him of whom they have not heard?
And how will they hear without a messenger?
Romans 10:14 AMP
Finally, what to say? This is an easy one. First, the more I share my testimony – God’s Story in my life – the easier it gets, and the better it’s delivered (I hope). But I remember
…the Holy Spirit will give you the words to say at the moment you need them…
Luke 12:12 VOICE
So, it’s almost like I don’t have to do anything except show up.
This post is important to me because I know the feeling of wanting unpleasantness “out of sight, out of mind.” I have no ill will toward the least of these. I think it’s more about “ignorance being bliss.” I can pretend to not be aware; to be filled with the direction of my own life and not want(?) to worry about anybody else’s.
I have a couple of great songs to go with this blog! Two of my very favorites.
Having faith is like waking up in the middle of the night and not being able to go back to sleep. I know this from experience. I often find myself in the “wee hours,” wide-eyed, and no matter how I try, I simply can not drift away.
And so, sooner or later, out comes the coffee and the journal, and I begin scribbling another blogging adventure. There’s usually some main idea that’s stirred me, maybe based on something that has happened recently (in this case, waking up and not going back to sleep, and wondering how (or if) that relates to my spiritual and tangible life).
…you know the time, that the hour has come for you to wake from sleep.
For salvation is nearer to us now than when we first believed.
Romans 13:11 ESV
This verse states the obvious. Of course, every second I live brings me closer to that time when “He returns or calls me home” (In Christ Alone). But what actually gave me the idea that “believing is like being awake” is that, once I wake up (like this morning), I know I can not fall back asleep, which is just like knowing that, having become a believer, I can never “unbelieve” again. This can be a good or not-so-good feeling, like the memory of something seen that can never be “unseen.” It can be pleasant or gruesome.
Part of me does not want to forget. Part of me knows I should not ever forget.
Therefore let us not sleep as others do.
But let us be alert and sober.
1 Thessalonians 5:6 MEV
It’s both the knowledge of God’s grace for me (now) and the promise (or threat?) of what is to come (in the future) that’s behind this need to stay awake. I know because I’ve read God’s Word; I believe because I’ve had personal experience that proves His Word.
The only debate, I suppose, is whether this belief (God’s forgiveness of sin) is a constant completely conscious choice (based on my knowledge), or whether it is fully a divine gift, an uninstallable “system-upgrade” to fix some behavioral bugs.
Patient endurance (something we choose) is what you need now, so that you will continue to do God’s will.
Hebrews 10:36 NLT
Those who have been born from God (something we’re given) don’t live sinful lives.
What God has said lives in them. So they can’t live sinful lives.
1 John 3:9 GW
The only thing which causes me to lean toward the former is the fact that I eventually, consistently slip and fall (and want to, in the heat of that moment). I really do worry about it all being up to me. You might say the thought is what “keeps me up at night.”
For God’s will was for us to be made holy by the sacrifice of the body of Jesus Christ, once and for all.
Dear friends, if we deliberately continue sinning after we have received the knowledge of the truth, there is no longer any sacrifice that will cover these sins.
There is only the terrible expectation of God’s judgement…
Hebrews 10:10,26-27 NLT
On the other hand, this certainty I feel (about never again being ignorant) is a comfort. I was given something, a gift that cannot be returned or put aside or ever misplaced.
The two combine for a very practical effect. I wake up. I get up and begin the new day. (Don’t worry, I take a nap around noon and repeat the whole process – 2 days for the price of one!) Likewise, I fall. I get up again and keep moving forward. Once was for all. I have received the knowledge of the truth.
Til on that cross as Jesus died,
The wrath of God was satisfied;
For ev’ry sin on Him was laid-
Here in the death of Christ I live.
One way is to write no matter where you are. Technology has made it possible to “speak and be heard” nearly everywhere we can go. This morning, I’m sitting one-armed in my dialysis chair using my iPhone to post this. (Sorry, no images today.)
1 Peter 3:15 NIV
Always be prepared…!
The important thing I’m focusing on right now is that what I am saying does not change, only how (via technology) I say it.
The “old ways” are best for the what to say and do; the “new” ways merely give options for how we say or do it.
So, when I am seeking for ways to write about not writing, I can just do it, right now.
Your turn! What’s the craziest, most unusual place or way you’ve posted?
I had a thought… (That’s good- kind of like breathing is good.)
Lol. I was just thinking, you know how ____ happened today, and we did ____? (Yes, that was good – the right thing to do.)
Well, it occurred to me that the old me would’ve let that play out – because there might have been something … nice for us- (You mean nice for you, Flesh.)
Right, I keep forgetting… (I know! But you have changed, that’s for sure.)
Although The Book says I’ll ever be the same… (Technically… but that was when Mind followed your lead. Wiser… heads prevail now.)
Yes, I understand that … now. I still say I was just ignorant before… (You were and are easily tempted to chase whatever feels good, Flesh. It’s kind of the way you were made- running from danger does keep you alive, as you know. It was when Mind… didn’t ‘mind’ the shop, so to speak, that you both got into trouble.)
Such trouble! Lol! I’m so glad that I can laugh about those days now- (Laugh only a little, I hope. Some… evil things were done when you got going under the influence.)
I know. I know. And I am truly, deeply sorry I was the cause of such things… I can never forget. Sometimes, I can feel Mind getting really down on us again… starts telling me things would be better off- (Without being accusatory, Flesh, that is your depressive chemical imbalance speaking, but I see what you’re saying. Yes, your slate is clean- spiritually. You simply must not forget that earthly consequences are not at all the same thing. I can’t save you from those.)
… (You still awake?)
Ya, I was just thinking… it’s the ‘team’ of us that gets us by in this world. Y’know each doing what we’re supposed to do; what we’re each good at… (Lol! One might say yours is not the thinking! Ha! That’s a good one! Mind does the thinking and deciding, and you do the moving and heavy lifting. Except when there’s bears- then you have the authority to get us out of here!)
Lol! And those stinging bugs! ‘We hates them, Precious!’ (Ah, great movie! Good redemptive story! It’s on again tomorrow, maybe we could-) My turn to interrupt! We’ve got responsibilities to take care of, you know! But… if we get everything done, maybe there’ll be enough time to relax for a bit.
(As long as you stop relaxing when the time is up…)
Yes. Yes, I get it now:
“Let it play” (No more!)
(Now, put the phone away and go to sleep. It’s 1:30 in the morning!)
I’m thirsty. I think I’ll get a glass of water. (You just did.)
I Obsess. I Procrastinate. I Isolate. I Avoid. These are the traits of my ‘drug’, my escape, my addictive trend. Today, I live “in recovery” from these things (as opposed to specific actions or substances). I’m being healed and transformed. It’s a long, rough road. Sometimes the “destination,” a life full of sobriety, seems very, very far away. No wonder, when I look at it that way.
I sit here in the midst of my life, and seek a “life full.” Do you see? The only time I will know that my life has been full (of anything) is at the end of it. Knowing that I need to stay sober for it all, I then think to myself when I’m tempted, “Never again.” How utterly dismal that seems. Many of my problem areas are life’s pleasures!
For someone who so easily becomes obsessed with anything – especially if it helps avoid any kind of pain or discomfort, “never again” is insurmountable, impossible. I know I won’t be able to accomplish it, so why not just let it go now?
I needed a way to shrink my goal down to a manageable size. How do you eat an elephant?
I determined it could be done with a change of this point of view. I welcomed the limit of “not right now.” This is a period of time I can handle.
Take this morning, for example. I lingered over a problem behavior, flirting with danger. I was in despair, in a “never again” mood, and was dejected about my chances of success, so I let the ‘nostalgia’ of old times play. I yearned for it, distracted from the reasons – the things I know I’m capable of – the things I want to stay away from, the things that are milestones on that downward-spiraling path. I confess, it was a close call.
I was saved by another recent change to my point of view. The old definition of ‘sober’ included “force”. I was ‘keeping myself from’ these things I really enjoyed. Who wouldn’t resist such efforts? Nowadays, I have turned it around; I now voluntarily give up an opportunity to experience a gratification – as an offering, a living sacrifice of a bodily indulgence – to keep myself whole, holy, and pleasing to God.
Therefore, I urge you, brothers and sisters, in view of God’s mercy, to offer your bodies as a living sacrifice, holy and pleasing to God – this is your true and proper worship.
This has made a huge difference. Even though temptations occur predictably, I have maintained my purity. But, as the above example demonstrates, “never again” can still dig me into a hole. I’ve also been praying daily for protection from thoughts, memories, fantasies, visions, and dreams of by-gone bad habits. “Right now” it is working.
To summarize, two point-of-view changes to help “stay clean” are:
rather than thinking that I’ll “never again” be allowed to do a thing I enjoy, I am ‘sort of’ doing it – just “not right now”
rather than thinking that I must ‘force’ myself to be sober, I gladly offer the opportunity to do a thing as a sacrifice to my God
Bonus: pray specifically for protection from the things that give temptations free reign