And, He is the stone that makes people stumble, the rock that makes them fall. They stumble because they do no obey God’s word, and so they meet the fate that was planned for them. But you are not like that, for you are a chosen people… As a result, you can show others the goodness of God, for He called you out of darkness into his wonderful light. 1 Peter 2: 8-9.
Suffering is one of the realities of living in a fallen world, living as a broken person. I heard two messages on suffering last Saturday. The first was at our Celebrate Recovery TEAM meeting devotional in the morning, and the second was Pastor Carl’s wonderful message, Why Does God Allow Suffering?, in the afternoon (message online). I think I needed to hear both.
The first nine steps in Celebrate Recovery are about coming out of denial and into God’s grace. We have to get down to the causes and conditions of our suffering—our hurts, hang-ups and habits. We learn to dig deep to find the core issues that drive all of our character defects. What I found that drove my selfishness, self-centeredness, fear, ego, pride, jealousy and dishonesty (to name a few), was a severe lack of self-esteem, insecurity and self worth. I wasn’t responsible for being raised in a family environment that fostered such deep wounds, but somewhere on my life journey I had to accept what had happened to me and start being accountable for my actions. I call that recovery. The first nine steps help us work that out by working in God’s love, mercy and forgiveness, and accepting His Amazing Grace.
The last three steps (10-12) are provided as a way to continue our spiritual growth—taking daily inventory and making right what we did wrong, learning to forgive others who have hurt us; daily time for prayer and meditation and reading of His word; offering ourselves to others, learning to live a life of service.
Pastor Carl talked about cooperating with the Master Builder’s work in us. Our Goal is to know Him. Our Purpose is to have Him work through us. In Celebrate Recovery we experience these truths through our 12-step process. But what happens when we get out of step? It happens to all of us at some time or other; I have experienced it many times. I can get caught up in God working THROUGH me, and miss the God working IN me part. I do this in two ways: I fall down on my 10th step; I don’t keep up with my daily inventory. The second is that I don’t spend enough time in His book, in prayer or meditation. Either way I suffer the consequences. All the good work I want to do for God in the 12th step starts to take a hit; I start to push and strain and force my will instead of relying on God’s will.
In recovery we call that Relapse. Some say an addict or alcoholic doesn’t relapse unless they take another drug or drink. But that simply is not true for me. I define Relapse as the separating of self from God—unrepentant sin. If I stay in a spiritual relapse for any length of time, I move to a negative emotional state, and if I stay in that long enough I am opening myself up to drink or drug again. I think that’s true for most of us. The co-dependent gets into another lousy relationship, the sex addict returns to pornography or affairs. The list goes on.
The moral of today’s message is to continue to serve others, but don’t neglect your own recovery. If you have been in recovery for a long time, keep steps 10, 11 and 12 alive and vibrant in your everyday life. You won’t be perfect; there will still be times of suffering and strife, but you will keep moving forward through those tough times with the assurance that God is working IN you so He can work THROUGH you.
Let the word of Christ dwell in you richly. Colossians 3:16
Have a great God filled week,
Celebrate Recovery Crossroads Church Calendar
May 16-22, 2011
Friday—Large Group Meeting:
- Join us at 7pm for worship and a teaching from Dana on Step 11, Gratitude.
- Share groups at 8pm.
- Solid Rock Café at 9pm.
Special Request: We have enough men to start a mixed issue 12-step group, and we need two leaders to facilitate the group. Please give some consideration and prayer if that may be you. Requirements to lead a 12-step group are one year of sobriety, having completed the Celebrate Recovery 12-step group yourself, and training.
Sunday May 29 is a special day for Celebrate Recovery; it’s the day we are privileged to serve Crossroads by ushering for Sunday services. It is a great way to carry the message of recovery to many. If you would like to participate, email at [email protected].