a Father’s will

“The will of God will never take you where the grace of God will not protect you.”CANDLE

“Our Higher Power will not give us more than we can handle in one day.”

Those words are familiar to most of us who walk a recovery path.  In my life’s experience determining the will of God has been a major stumbling block.  Having been bombarded by various preachers extolling numerous differing theologies, I finally came to rest on a space in which that voice inside, some call it conscience, became my deciding factor.  It is the indwelling spirit, some choose to capitalize Spirit, which knows my character defects, names them and leads me to correct them.  Very simply that is for me the will of God.  The conscience was instilled in me for a purpose and that purpose is not merely to spoil my fun.  It is there to lead me.

It is a manner of living, sober-living, which embraces everything that my character defects, sinful nature, oppose and resist.  If what I am thinking is my will, if it is my surrendering to self-directed action, if it is my desire to please myself, then I should run the opposite direction into my HP’s waiting arms.  Today, I have the willingness to live life according to God’s will and I know that when I do this, life can be clean and serene.

I cannot claim life is free of problems and obstacles; however, I can now approach those glitches with confidence knowing that God extends abundant mercy, an unmerited and undeserved gift of grace and favor.  God does for me what I cannot do for myself.  I am but a lost sheep needing the voice of a shepherd to lead me to the green pastures and still waters.  It is there that I find peace and rest amidst a violent, chaotic world.  The Father’s will for me is to find comfort and solace following a simplistic but sometimes difficult directive.  SURRENDER.  “Surrender to my will and you shall be set free.  Be still, cease striving; and then you will know that I am God.”

“No temptation has seized you except what is common to man.  And God is faithful; he will not let you be tempted beyond what you can bear.  But, when smiley 3you are tempted, he will also provide a way out so that you can stand up under it.” 1 Corinthians 10:13

the critic

Marianne Williamson

 

Dear Lord, please lift me up and heal me.

Cast out of my mind all thoughts that are not of You.

Cast out of me all harsh and critical nature.

Cast out of me all violence and anger.

Cast out of me all demons from my past,

for I would be made new.

Amen

CANDLEMarianne Williamson’s work has been a part of my inspirational readings for many years.  Like me, she grew up in the turbulent decades of “drugs, sex, rock and roll.”  She also caved to the demons of her times.  ILLUMINATA  The above excerpt from a prayer for healing reminds me everyday that my “harsh and critical nature” is not totally resolved within me.  It is one of the major character defects which can turn my daily interactions into completely chaotic fiascos.  Just one word from my quick, unthinking tongue can erase tireless efforts to be the man whom I believe my HP wants me to be.  A biting comment, an insult, an unwanted opinion in the morning has the power to shadow me for the entire day.  Today, I am aware of my defects and at least now I have the tools to prevent the unkind thoughts and words from ever escaping out of my mouth….most of the time.

We don’t claim spiritual perfection, just progress.  Thank God for this disclaimer.  Without it I would be eternally lost in the seas of self-loathing and despair believing that I am the least worthy and most despicable of God’s creation.  But, my HP delivers to me each new day the strength and resolve to become a better version of the old drunk, to become a vessel carrying his word to a suffering and distraught fellowship of other drunks, and to become a recovering voice in the darkness of addiction.  And because he says I am a work in progress, I need not do this perfectly.  I merely need the willingness to try.

That same harsh and critical nature is frequently turned inward.  I am undoubtedly my own worst critic.  If I truly believe that God’s saving grace has covered me with unmerited and undeserved mercy then how dare I dispute the work he has done in my life and the plan he has for me?  How dare I criticize the miracle working within me?  It is not up to me to judge others or myself.  The indwelling Spirit allows me to be the observer of life, allows thoughts to enter and depart without passing judgement on them, allows others to travel this path alongside me without passing judgement on them, and allows me to be nothing more…or less…than a simple messenger.smiley 3

NBC in the crosshairs

CANDLE

Those of you who have been following QUEST for any length of time also know that my ramblings swing from the sweetness of sober-living and spirituality to the nasty scenario of politics and politicians.  I would much prefer to stay within the serenity of sobriety and ignore all the other noise, but, that apparently is not what my Higher Power wants.  “Lord”, I say, “I’m weary of the things of this world which sap my strength and peace.  I don’t want to write about the ugliness that is festering in our country and the world.”

“Son,” he replies, (yes we have an ongoing conversation) “you also were ugly and festering until I came into your life and cleaned you up.  Don’t argue with me, it’s my calling for you.”

“If the Son therefore shall make you free, ye shall be free indeed.” John 8:36

I have heard many times in patriotic dialog that ‘freedom is not free’  when referring to a country which values the Creator-granted freedoms we all are given.  Wars are justified with this exhortation and despotic governments are challenged.  Freedom has a price.

And so it is with the freedom of the indwelling soul.  God has set me free but God also expects to be repaid.  It is not enough to sit back and enjoy as a hermit or an ascetic or a spectator the splendor which is mine.  I must carry that banner of egalitarianism, I must wear it as a patch on my sleeve, and I must never shutter out the ugliness and festering which continues in this world.

Years ago, as a young boy in a Protestant environment, “Onward Christian Soldiers” was a popular church hymn.  It has fallen into disuse with the advent of peace movements and increasing anti-war sentiment.  Probably that is a good thing because for many congregants this song advocated a war-like mindset in interacting with the world of non-Christians.  But there are numerous definitions of “soldier” in the Merriam Webster.  One is “adventurer”.  How sweet is that?   I am on an adventure for God.  I am adventuring in my life’s QUEST carrying truth and compassion for a hurting, ugly, festering world.

On this adventure there are obstacles.  There is an antagonistic presence which would deprive my co-sojourners and me of the freedoms we value.  Some of those obstacles are institutions, some are governments, some are politicians, some are the world’s oligarchs. Many are nameless and without description.

We cannot ignore these forces.  Although they will never alter the mission of a Higher Power, they can deter the efforts of like-minded men and women who see a greater reason for existence on earth than a mere accumulation of wealth and influence.  I have been commissioned, you have been commissioned to bring an enlightenment to humanity never before attained .  It is our work as designated from the beginnings of time.  Some call it evolution, I call it my purpose for living.

AMENDMENT 1

Ratified to our Constitution on December 15, 1791

Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion, or prohibiting the free exercise thereof; or abridging the freedom of speech, or of the press; or the right of the people to peaceably assemble, and to petition the Government for a redress of grievance.

Out of the White House today comes rhetoric which is directly opposed to freedom of the press, a tweet which threatens a major news service, NBC,  calling it fake.  The talking heads say the President’s threat is unenforceable.  But, we must remember that Germany also stood at this threshold in the 1930s.  Millions of our brotherhood were murdered as a result of good citizens allowing a freedom to be stolen by the forces of authoritarian despotism.   FREEDOM IS NOT FREE.  I am designed to live in the fullness of peace by an authority which is higher than any earthly voice or institution.  But, I must be willing to die for that freedom.

I love this quote from Patrick Henry

“Give me liberty or give me death.”

NBC

angry emoji

 

 

 

 

relevance

CANDLE

“This little light of mine, I’m gonna let it shine.”

Does anyone else remember that verse from childhood days in Sunday school class or perhaps vacation Bible school?  Yes, we would all stand up in front of our families, friends, and neighbors gesturing in unison our hands uncovering a candle being held.  The parents, the teachers and the preacher smiled in appreciation for our efforts.

Several weeks ago after church service I shared with a friend that I was feeling extremely irrelevant in today’s world, that a majority of my neighbors followed the beat of a different drummer socially and politically, and alas, even within our congregation there was division and discord.  We talked at length about the political climate, the lack of congenial discourse, the increase of violence.  From previous conversations I knew she was on the same page as I regarding tolerance of and inclusion for differing walks in life.

We talked awhile consoling each other when she twinkled an eye and began singing softly, “this little light of mine, I’m gonna let it shine.”

Yes, that is what we do as messengers of a Higher Power which embraces things not born of this worldly system, but extremely relevant to our journey.  We shine forth with what we know as truth.  In our AA literature humility is defined as “a clear recognition of what and who we really are, followed by a sincere attempt to become who we could be.”

All too often we view this “humility” thing as a negative, we see it as needing to release pride and self pursuit.  But, if we recognize the greatness which God has empowered within each of us, if we realize the inherent spiritual connection, then we can begin to feel and believe that we do indeed have something to share with the world in which we live.  We are relevant to today’s worldly problems when we understand through genuine humility who we truly are and what our purpose is.

I don’t need a lighthouse, a beacon on a hill, the bright lights of fame, nor the adoration of the multitudes to walk this path with purpose or relevance.  I’ve been given my own personal little candle to hold and, by the grace of God, I’m gonna let it shine.

rainbow-solidarity

power of friendship

The first few months of sustained sobriety were exciting and exhilarating for those of us recovering from alcoholism.  New ways of thinking, new habits, new friends, and a new spirituality kept us coming back to the rooms and tables of Alcoholics Anonymous.  Day by day we grew stronger in our commitments to live life without the crutch of a potion which we knew was killing us.  Some of us, however, continued to stumble over the name of God in the prayers and in the readings.  Too much God baggage from our addictions made it difficult to sincerely think about the Higher Power in any but the simplest of terms. Those with continuous sober time told us to use the group conscience as our reference point for God.  It worked.  Eventually, having done our inventories and amends, we cast aside the vindictive, judgmental concept we carried for far too many years and we could say and think God with conviction.

Very special friendships developed as we found others with like interests and shared histories.  Many of us began new lives plagued by financial problems carried over from our past lives and we found it necessary to share living expenses and housing.  It was a perfect solution to the loneliness imposed on us by our disease.

Roommates in recovery discovered that living together could be just as problematic as our marriages or relationships had been previously.  We were sober but we were not yet cured of the issues which turned our living arrangements into living hells prior to Alcoholics Anonymous.  We had not arrived at serenity, we were still works in progress.

My first roommate as a sober man was Jackie L.  He had several years sobriety, attended numerous meetings weekly, and was a person of deep, very deep, Catholic convictions.  We spent hours delving into the mysteries of the great writers of religious tradition.  Our commitment to sober living was never questioned and, in retrospect, that commitment kept us from going off the “deep end” with religion.  We had witnessed that happening to some of our friends; they got into some heavy theology and lost their sobriety as a result.

Jackie was described by some friends as a brooding, moody man.  I learned by watching his eye color change from a bright hazel to a deep green when Jackie had something on his mind.  And it was only a matter of minutes before we were in deep discussion about that “something”.  Being the younger in terms of sober time, I was also more explosive with emotions while my roommate maintained a calm composure.  That thoroughly pissed me off as we explored the problem we were having.  He already had the upper hand with his poise and wisdom while I sat there spitting and sputtering trying to argue my point.

Those days of early sobriety were extremely important in developing the interpersonal skills we somehow mismanaged while perched on our favorite bar stool at the local watering hole.  Finally, we had an opportunity to jumpstart our emotional growth which had been at a standstill for so many years.  And  make no mistake about it; this was tough, painstaking work.  We were ill-equipped for behaving like mature men and women.  But somehow we survived.

Jackie and I have lost touch over the many years since 1983.  But, I shall never forget his famous line whenever he was about to take the high road in our numerous arguments as roommates.  He, with those dark brooding eyes, would look at me with a slight curl on his lips and a mocking laugh and then ask,

“Well Larry, now how spiritual was that?”

That has stayed with me for all these years.  When I do or think something which is less than serene and clean, I ask myself, “Well Larry, now how spiritual was that?”

Today I believe the world and its problems could learn a lesson from Jackie and me if people would simply ask themselves, “How spiritual was that?”