“God is faithful, and by Him you were called to fellowship with His Son, Jesus Christ our Lord.” 1 Corinthians 1:9
To be transformed from a seeming state of utter hopelessness and helplessness, to the joy of being clean and sober is an unmitigated miracle of God. Called out of the darkness, the recovering addict and alcoholic now stands in the Light of recovery.
Like all miracles, it occurs in a place. It happens somewhere: under supervision at rehab; in the rooms of a 12 Step fellowship, or by a direct spiritual experience during a worship service or prayer meeting. Miracles need a setting, and symbols to concretize the experience.
Symbols such as therapeutic conversations and alumni programs at treatment centres; the principles for sober living outlined in the 12 Steps and other recovery literature; and the Christian creeds, prayers and Holy Bible, are all outward manifestations of God’s goodness.
Most importantly, the setting and symbols flow from a source: the presence of the omniscient, omnipotent, loving, caring, God who is greater than any manifestation of the obsessions and compulsions which plague the afflicted. God is the source; the settings and symbols are evidence of His devotion to the sick and the dying.
During the early months of recovery, every minute of every day is dedicated to maintaining abstinence. During the early years, the habits which support a recovery lifestyle must be learned and practiced, until a wellness foundation is built. Despite the ups and downs, the initial joy of the emancipation of slavery to substances bathes everything in a golden hue.
“It is better to trust in the Lord than to put confidence in man.” Psalms 118:8
Over time, the drastic, erratic lifestyle and emotional turbulence subsides. The recovering person’s perspective on life becomes more realistic. The bloom fades from the early magnificence of simply being clean and sober. The old habit of fault finding returns. What was overlooked in the beginning: the chipped paint or the untended shrubbery at the treatment centre, the chronically relapsing attendees at the 12 Step meetings, the human failings of the people who were the strong support at the beginning, are now seen in a different light.
When the early acceptance of everything recovery related, sours into resentment because of unmet expectations, God’s unconditional love and strength are needed in a more profound way to soften the emotional blows of disappointment.
Hopelessness, broken hearts, and dark nights of the soul will arrive long after substance abuse has ended. The dis-ease is progressive; it continues to worsen with or without abstinence. (Just ask anyone who has relapsed). Recovery must always be sought, just like it was at the outset, and the settings and symbols are best reinforced by a personal relationship with God, to prevent a relapse or worse.
To be happy, joyous, and free on a good day, and to get through anything clean and sober on all the other days, God must be the strong foundation: the source of provision for all emotional, mental, physical and spiritual needs.
When God is rightly acknowledged as the source of recovery, humility, wisdom and understanding flow from Him through the recovering person. With Jesus Christ at the centre of the recovery experience, the setting, the symbols, and the people so crucial for long term success can be respected and loved for what and who they truly are: expressions of God’s mercy and beneficence.
The adversary waits with enduring patience and hidden cunning to reclaim all unsuspecting souls. Evoking the presence of Jesus Christ, through prayer and thanksgiving will provide the counsel, strength and guidance needed to navigate every joy and every challenge faced in recovery.
Relying on the source, and respectfully recognizing the setting and symbols, enables anyone to have as much clean time as they want.
“Trust in the Lord with all your heart, on your own intelligence rely not;
In all your ways be mindful of him, and he will make straight your paths.” Proverbs 3:5-6
Photo: Brandon Jarman at Unsplash