come, come to the table

When I found on YouTube this a cappella rendition of JUST AS I AM and saw that it was sung by a Mennonite choir, I knew this was today’s post.  I have journeyed with very fine Mennonite men and women on this trek through life.  They are non-judgmental, they are humbly devoted, they are peacemakers in a violent world.

Decades ago I answered the altar call at a Youth for Christ rally.  Penitently, I walked up to the railing, knelt, bowed my head, cried.  It was a transformative night.  But then the ‘humbly born again’ me tried to assume the posture and image of what people told me a Christian, especially a born again Christian, should be.  Over the following years I rebelled against and rejected anything religious.

That table of invitation, the seat reserved for me did not move.  It is I who have changed and moved.  Today, what others profess does not matter.  What others think about me does not matter.  What others assume as ‘Christian-like’ behavior does not matter.  It was my seat waiting and I claimed it.  Verse 3 of the hymn by Charlotte Elliot says it all:

“Just as I am! tho’ tossed about with many a conflict, many a doubt, with fears within, and foes without, O Lamb of God, I come!  I come!”

The truth of the Jesus story says to me that there are no conditions on taking a seat because the table is open to anyone – black or white, man or woman, gay or straight, drunk or sober, earthling or Martian – the truth has not changed.  This has always been a universal invitation which only man’s theological  interpretation has limited.

“If, therefore, the Son sets you free, you will be free indeed.”  JOHN 8:36

Enjoy the freedom.  The centerpiece of the table is unrelenting love for your Lord and, then, the entirety of Creation.  We can add a plethora of ‘thou shalt’ and ‘thou shalt not’, but why should we want to? NAMASTE 🙏

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EMANCIPATION

The word emancipation has been used frequently over the past few days – and it should be.  When we can celebrate together as One the freedom of all, we will then be socially emancipated.  All groups of immigrants coming to America’s table of equality desired emancipation – Germans, Irish, Asian, Catholic, Muslim, etc.  It’s an innate destiny to live our lives as designed and intended by a Higher Power.  Our nation is unique in that we have historically welcomed any who wish to be  a part of our melting pot culture.  Lady liberty, standing in New York Harbor, shares these words:

“Give me your tired, your poor,
Your huddled masses yearning to breathe free,
The wretched refuse of your teeming shore.
Send these, the homeless, tempest-tost to me,
I lift my lamp beside the golden door!”

But, emancipation is more than the freedom granted by society.  It is also personal and spiritual.  That shameful habit that we have hidden within hoping no body would discover our little secret, that unlawful act we committed decades ago, that extra-maritalPicture1.pngconfession (2) affair with our best friend’s wife….all waiting for the grace of emancipation.  It can happen only when, “we admit to God, to ourselves and to another human being the exact nature of our wrongs.”  STEP 5, TWELVE & TWELVE, ALCOHOLICS ANONYMOUS

Getting honest is not a fun thing.  It can be heart wrenching and difficult.  The Big Book tells us to be fearless and thorough in our personal inventories.  But, there is a light at the end of that dark tunnel.  It is the freedom brought about by the emancipation of our souls.  For some of us it is a return to foundational principles learned young, but then squandered during our addictions.  Come to the table where equality dwells and find your freedom now.

“…..if you hold to my teaching, you are really my disciples.  Then you will know the truth and the truth will set you free.”  JOHN 31-32

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Just another day?

Really?  Do I remember where I was last night, whom I was with, what I did?  Do I know where I parked my truck?  Am I reeking of stale cigarettes and whiskey?  Must I extend apologies (again) to my friends and family?

NO!  Today is not just another day.  Today is a spectacular day in the sobriety journey.  It is a day to rejoice and be grateful.

You and I are sober today – get up, get motivated and let’s give ourselves and our HPsober emoji a hand.

Turn Your Eyes

I know your troubles, I know that your heart is heavy with concern and fear, that you are severely challenged by the violence and insecurities of this world.  Look into His eyes, see what I have seen and know that my Father, and yours, will gently guide us through the difficult times we are facing.

Picture1.pngconfession (2)Just imagine Jesus holding us in loving arms, soothing our hearts, asking us to trust him…

I have been there, I understand.  Have you ever read what they did to me?  They called me a heretic, a blasphemer, and a charlatan.  All I wanted was peace and brotherly love, to live my life as a beacon for the Father whom I worshipped.  I believed that all people were equal in my Father’s eyes, that all should equally participate in his abundance. They hunted me like a criminal, beat me, stripped me of my clothing, humiliated me, flogged me, spat upon me, and then nailed me to a wooden cross to die an ignoble death. 

But, I survived.  2000 years later people still quote me and read about me.  Now, loved ones, you tell me who died on that cross?  Those who persecuted me and drove the nails are nothing more than ashes and bones, but I am still alive and well in the eyes of millions of people.

I have been there, I know your pain.  The illness and devastation in your world today – I understand.  The possessed, the lepers, the lame, the plague ridden were part of my world.  The corruption, the crime, the deceit, the hypocrisy were also part of my world.  Just trust me for I have endured it all and I have conquered everything put upon me simply by dying to the things of this earth and turning eyes to a power greater than any on earth.  I AM ALIVE!

“Come to me, all you who are weary and burdened, and I will give you rest.  Take my yoke upon you and learn from me, for I am gentle and humble in heart, and you will find rest in your souls, for my yoke is easy and my burden is light.”  MATTHEW 11: 28-30 NIV

blessings – great & small

 

For breath and clean air to breathe,
for heartbeat and healthy flowing blood…
I am thankful.
For arms and legs that move,
for toes that wiggle…
I am thankful.

gratitude changes everything

For sobriety and the willingness to live soberly,
for a clear head and commitment to sane, rational thinking…
I am thankful.
For waking up knowing where I was last night,
for knowing what I did last night and where I parked my truck…
I am thankful.

Sober today?  Give yourself and your Higher Power a hand.sober emoji

a time of surrender

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Even after years of continuous sobriety, Step 1 of the AA program is as relevant today for me as it was back in 1981.  They called it “self-will run riot” at the meeting tables.  We, if we were honest about our situation, could heartily agree with the unmanageable existence that had become everyday life under the control of alcohol.

But, there had to be more than merely admitting that we had a drinking problem and that our lives were unmanageable.  We had to change who we were, how we processed life situations.  We had to change our thinking and our priorities.  It was not easy.   Many did not make the transition and returned to old ways under the clutches of addiction.

So, you might ask, “what made the difference, why would some succeed while others slipped back into drinking?”

SURRENDER.  Surrendering to the wisdom at the meeting tables, to those who cared enough to share their stories, to those who sat up into the wee morning hours to guide us through moments of weakness, to the inspiration given in the writings of Bill W. and Dr. Bob, and finally to a power greater than us – that Higher Power which appears under innumerable names and philosophies.  We had to surrender everything which told us that we were special and unique, separate from the gutter drunk or the teenaged hustler on the street corner.  We had to accept that “but for the grace of God, there go I.”

Have I surrendered today?  Have I turned over all my concerns, all my fears, all my prejudices, all my doubts and insecurities?  Have you?

We are told that we no longer need to live lives of continual turmoil.  We don’t need to worry about the stock market, about wars in distant lands, about turmoil in our country, about pandemics that could kill us because ultimately we do not have control over anything outside the heart and soul that comfort us.  We, if we have surrendered, trust in the goodness of humanity and the grace of a Higher Power.  It is the only pathway to internal peace.  Internal peace is the only pathway to a world of peace.  Worrying contradicts surrender and robs us of peace.  What’s our choice going to be?

A favorite passage from the book of Luke tells me:

“…can any of you, for all your worrying, add a single moment to the span of your life?”  LUKE 12:25-26

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BLESSING

“The Lord bless you and keep you;
the Lord make his face shine upon you
and be gracious to you;
the Lord turn his face toward you
and give you peace.”
NUMBERS 6:24-26

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We do our best to stay healthy, to avoid unnecessary exposure to COVID-19, and yet there are times when those of us who believe and trust in a Higher Power simply must for the sake of sanity sit back and whisper, “Lord, be gracious unto me, shine your face upon me and give me peace.”

Yesterday was one of those days for me.  I volunteered to venture to the grocery store and pick up a few items for a friend who does not drive.  Like me, he is nearly ancient and has a few disabilities.  When I delivered the bread and soup to his house, I tooted the horn and waited outside in my truck.  He came out, stuck his head into my cab through the open passenger window, we chatted briefly and then he coughed into my air space in the truck without bothering to cover his face.

My response was not charitable nor friendly.  “Get your head out of my truck and go away,” I yammered with a few added expletives.

May the Lord forgive me for my words.  But in these times our faith that a Higher Power has got this under control is truly all we have to guide us with grace and peace.  All the precautions, all the masks and safety measures, all the social distancing will avail us nothing unless each of us takes this virus seriously.

Stay at home, be vigilant, and for God’s sake cover your mouth.

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GRATITUDE APPLIED

So many of us have lived our lives placing unmerited value on the opinions of others while discrediting our personal truth and reality.  Breaking the shackles of people-pleasing requires honest self-appraisal, a healthy dose of self-esteem, and an enormous commitment to self-realization.

Sober and serene today?  Give yourself and your Higher Power a hand.sober emoji

 

 

For breath and clean air to breathe
I am thankful
for heartbeat and healthy flowing blood
I am thankful
for arms and legs that move, toes that wiggle
I am thankful.

It doesn’t have to be an eloquent play on words or profound verse.  Those few, heartfelt words of thanks along with a cup of coffee first thing upon rising set the tone for the rest of the day.  Of course the gratitude list can be extensive or short as genuine thanksgiving fills us for the sober life given by the grace and mercy of a loving Higher Power.

In days past, my first thoughts upon rising were, “Oh damned, another day of struggle and despair.”

Not any more.  It would be easy to kick back and go there again, but today I have too much to live for and too much to lose.  I choose to live clean and serene for another day.  What’s on your gratitude list?

I   AM   LARRY – worthy, unique, loved

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Higher Power

If you are sober today, give yourself and your Higher Power a hand.

Came to believe that a power greater than ourselves could restore us to sanity – STEP 2 sober emoji
Made a decision to turn our will and our lives over to the care of God as we understood God. – STEP 3

This is the miracle of restoration.  It is not dependent on anything you or I could do to alleviate the addictions which controlled our lives.  Yes, we had to talk the walk and then walk the talk, but ultimately the grace of a power greater than us brought us back to sanity, restored us to meaningful lives within families and communities – sometimes quickly, sometimes slowly.

God as we understood God is, for many of us, the premise which carries us over the hurdles of previous negative god experiences.  No longer do we feel obligated to profess this faith or that in our daily faith walk.  Surely, each religious philosophy of the world whether it be Christianity, Judaism, Islam, Hinduism, etc. has nuggets of truth and wisdom; however,  life changes when the God we follow is personal, loving and compassionate not corralled by any particular philosophy.  As is human nature, we attempt to describe and define, but usually discover that our minds cannot comprehend the greatness or fathom the depths of that which we call Higher Power.

Whether your God or mine is a who, a what, a where, a when, male, female, genderless, Christian, Jewish, Muslim, Hindu or simply the fellowship which supports our sobriety, give this Higher Power a round of applause today for keeping us clean and serene.

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