Morning Prayer 17 | Self-Control

Self-control is the final fruit of the Spirit Paul lists. Self-control is the ability to master oneself.  What does it mean to master oneself? How do we do that?

22 But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, 23 gentleness, self-control; against such things there is no law. Galatians 5:22-23 (ESV)

Depending on your present situation, the term self-control brings forth different images dancing in your mind. We might think of overcoming powerful habits that dominate our lives, like overindulging, being too glib, or gossiping. It may bring to mind overcoming addictions or harmful behavior. The lack of self-control is a basic characteristic of immaturity. As we mature, we grow in our ability to master ourselves.

Self-control is demonstrated when we don’t give in to every whim of our appetites, practice fidelity, and deal with others honestly.  A deep relationship with the Lord manifests itself through self-control. Over time, this ability to master ourselves branches out to every aspect of our life.

Prayer: God, help me deepen in my walk with You so that I can grow in my ability to master myself, doing that which is pleasing to You, in a manner bringing You praise.
Amen.

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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.