Day 8339: Continuing to Face the Challenges of Living Life in Recovery

Recently, I’ve been reminded of how challenging sobriety is. I’ve lived in recovery for over 8,300 days. 8,339 to be exact. Even after all that time, I’m not guaranteed sobriety tomorrow. It’s a decision I make first thing in the morning when I get up out of bed. Every day.

“I’m going to live sober today,” I say to myself.

“Yes,” my Self replies.

Keep in mind that I do this even though I don’t always feel like it. Yes. There are days where the fight to stay clean and sober is difficult. Even 20+ years later. And I still run into people every day who don’t really understand addiction or know what to do with former addicts like me (that’s ok–I don’t always know what to do with myself either).

Recovery isn’t’ something I got right the first time. It took a few tries. I wavered between stringing a few days back to back and over a year of sobriety. That’s right. One year. It ended like this:

“Want a beer?”

“Sure,” I shrugged. And off to the races we went.

For me, alcohol is the key that unlocks the door to a wild ride. Prior to recovery finally sticking, I went out on a 33-day binge that nearly killed me. My binge was fueled by a ton of things I won’t mention here. I don’t want to glorify them. I don’t want to tell you that you can do them and live. You can. Most people don’t. Those that do, usually wind up in jail. A fortunate few of us get rescued, finding refugee in the Halls and solace in the Rooms that offer us a free space to be ourselves. There’s no judgment in the Rooms. At least not usually (we are human after all). I guess a better way to say it is that there isn’t supposed to be any judgment. We each have our own story to tell; our own truth to share.

I’ve seen addiction steal lives. I’ve witnessed addiction destroy dreams. I’m grateful that I found a way up from the Bottoms. Although it’s something I had to do first and foremost for myself, it’s not something I did alone. A lot of people have helped me overcome my innermost personal demons. It’s because of the love and kindness of others that I can claim to live in victory today.

Semi-colons mark a point where a sentence could have stopped; a spot where the story could have ended. But by the grace of God…my life didn’t end with my addictions.

semicolonAre you struggling with addiction? Has alcohol or have drugs taken control of your life? You aren’t alone. You don’t have to keep suffering. You don’t have to keep living a lie. You don’t have to keep leaving a wake of devastation wherever you go. You can change. Life can be different. But you got to want it…

Start here or here.

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Psalm Saturday: Psalm 86

Psalm 86 is a prayer written by David, the shepherd boy who became King over all Israel. Based on his experience of God’s goodness, David asks the Lord to show His strength by standing against the proud who are exalting themselves over him. It is the only psalm ascribed to David in the third book of Psalms and contains familiar quotes from other psalms, often mirroring them verbatim.

David spends the first 10 verses asking God for His protection. The request for protection is followed by David’s request for greater understanding in verses 11-13. In verses 14-17, he closes his psalm with a request for strength to fight off his enemies.

In this psalm, we see a mighty king, bending his knee to almighty God, demonstrating his dependence on the Lord, and showing us that he trusts Him and is ready to obey Him. David asks for grace, acknowledging it is not something God owes him. David rested with the confidence that God would answer his plea because God was the only one who is able to do great things. David trusted God because he knew that God was able.

David had personally experienced God doing tremendous things in his life, like calling him up from the fields into Saul’s palace to serve the King, and helping David slay the giant Goliath. David knew that he did not do these things in his own power, but rather because God was with him. What situation or circumstance in your life needs you to show dependence and trust in the Lord?

When we cry out for greater understanding for those things in our life that happen unexpectedly and that escape our ability to understand, we must mirror David’s call. David did so with humility, knowing God did not owe him an answer. He did not question God’s goodness or God’s plan, but sought to understand so that he could give God the glory. David knew God loved him and was the source of his salvation. He knew that it was the Lord who sustained him. It is okay for us to ask God questions, provided we remember that He alone is God and that He is holy and mighty. God doesn’t owe us an answer. Do you desire greater understanding? Have you asked God to provide it to you?

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People were rebelling against David and God. Man’s rebellion against the Lord is nothing new. It was true before David, during David’s reign as King, and it remains true for us living in the 21st century. David looked for a sign from God, just like we often do. David asked for strength and that the Lord would deliver him from his troubles, just like we often do. David trusted that God would answer his plea. When you ask God to help you overcome the problems you are facing, do you trust Him to answer you?

God is for us, not against us. He is trustworthy. We can trust in Him. He hears our prayers and He is willing to answer them. Are we willing to faithfully obey His call on our lives? We must recognize our utter dependence on the Lord Almighty and acknowledge that God owes us nothing. Everything He has given us to date is sheer grace.

Blessings.

 

Psalm 86

A Prayer of David.

1 Incline your ear, O Lord, and answer me, for I am poor and needy. 2 Preserve my life, for I am godly; save your servant, who trusts in you—you are my God. 3 Be gracious to me, O Lord, for to you do I cry all the day. 4 Gladden the soul of your servant, for to you, O Lord, do I lift up my soul. 5 For you, O Lord, are good and forgiving, abounding in steadfast love to all who call upon you. 6 Give ear, O Lord, to my prayer; listen to my plea for grace. 7 In the day of my trouble I call upon you, for you answer me.

8 There is none like you among the gods, O Lord, nor are there any works like yours. 9 All the nations you have made shall come and worship before you, O Lord, and shall glorify your name. 10 For you are great and do wondrous things; you alone are God. 11 Teach me your way, O Lord, that I may walk in your truth; unite my heart to fear your name. 12 I give thanks to you, O Lord my God, with my whole heart, and I will glorify your name forever. 13 For great is your steadfast love toward me; you have delivered my soul from the depths of Sheol.

14 O God, insolent men have risen up against me; a band of ruthless men seeks my life, and they do not set you before them. 15 But you, O Lord, are a God merciful and gracious, slow to anger and abounding in steadfast love and faithfulness. 16 Turn to me and be gracious to me; give your strength to your servant, and save the son of your maidservant. 17 Show me a sign of your favor, that those who hate me may see and be put to shame because you, Lord, have helped me and comforted me.

Psalm 90: In God We CAN Trust

Psalm 90 is one of the oldest, if not the oldest, psalm ever written. It is a prayer well-matched for times of crisis. Upon reading and reflecting on Psalm 90, written by Moses, the words “In God We Trust” jump to mind. In Psalm 90, Moses asks God to bless His people in view of how short life is. Picture the Israelites wandering in the desert, lost and confounded, searching for answers. Moses points them to God. Trust in God, for God is good and trustworthy. God is for you, not against you. God is our ever-present help in trouble. God is everlasting. He has always been, He is, and He will always be. He is our help of ages past. Since the beginning of creation, every generation of believers have found refuge and shelter in the protective arms of the Lord.

A thousand years are but a day to Him.

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2 Peter 3:8 (NIV)

But do not forget this one thing, dear friends: With the LORD a day is like a thousand years, and a thousand years are like a day.

Time does not bind God. The Lord is not limited by time like you and I are. For us, time is an instrument we mark progress with and a tool that helps us relate events. The Lord is not subject to time like we are. Our time, Moses observes, is finite. Our time is limited. God is forever. We are but a vapor…

Death exists because of the sin God must judge us for. We cannot hide our sin from God anymore than Adam and Eve could. The wages of sin, Scripture reminds us (Romans 6:23) is death. Death binds us physically and spiritually. But for God…

Since our days are so brief compared to the eternity of God, Moses reminds us to spend our time wisely. A heart of wisdom is able to discern the will of God and recognize God’s purpose for our lives. We must be careful not to squander the opportunity the Lord has given us. We should be faithful like God is faithful.

Moses asks the Lord to extend compassion and grace upon His sinful people. He urges God to balance His judgement with the loyal love He promises His people so that they could experience living with joy and gladness. We can trust God to keep His promises.

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We can see the Lord’s splendor all around us and we are able to experience God’s mercy daily. Seeing God’s majesty tells us that God is trustworthy because He is all powerful. His mercy abounds in us, giving us hope, and showing us that because of His love, we can trust in the Lord.

Through the atoning work of Jesus Christ on the Cross, God removed the guilt of our sins. We are spiritually freed from death. Yet, today, the consequences of sin—physical death—still remain. Because of the Lord’s mercy, grace, and love you and I can enjoy life and focus on making a contribution to the world and advancing His kingdom.

In God We CAN Trust!

Prayer:

Father: Thank you for being a trustworthy God, a faithful God, a merciful and loving God. You are good Lord, you are SO good. You know every day of our lives. You are our ever present help in times of trouble. You are our refuge and our strength. You are for us, not against us. O Lord, how great is your love for us! May I spend my time wisely, sharing the Gospel, and advancing Your kingdom. Forever and ever. Amen. 

Psalm 90

A Prayer of Moses, the man of God.

1 Lord, you have been our dwelling place
in all generations.
2 Before the mountains were brought forth,
or ever you had formed the earth and the world,
from everlasting to everlasting you are God.

3 You return man to dust
and say, Return, O children of man!
4 For a thousand years in your sight
are but as yesterday when it is past,
or as a watch in the night.

5 You sweep them away as with a flood; they are like a dream,
like grass that is renewed in the morning:
6 in the morning it flourishes and is renewed;
in the evening it fades and withers.

7 For we are brought to an end by your anger;
by your wrath we are dismayed.
8 You have set our iniquities before you,
our secret sins in the light of your presence.

9 For all our days pass away under your wrath;
we bring our years to an end like a sigh.
10 The years of our life are seventy,
or even by reason of strength eighty;
yet their span is but toil and trouble;
they are soon gone, and we fly away.
11 Who considers the power of your anger,
and your wrath according to the fear of you?

12 So teach us to number our days
that we may get a heart of wisdom.
13 Return, O Lord! How long?
Have pity on your servants!
14 Satisfy us in the morning with your steadfast love,
that we may rejoice and be glad all our days.
15 Make us glad for as many days as you have afflicted us,
and for as many years as we have seen evil.
16 Let your work be shown to your servants,
and your glorious power to their children.
17 Let the favor of the Lord our God be upon us,
and establish the work of our hands upon us;
yes, establish the work of our hands!

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