I’m drawn to folks with a strong sense of purpose. Many of the folks I admire are dedicated to their craft, their work, their art. I have been a dabbler all my life, and I’ve got a lot of hobbies but don’t know that I am totally dedicated to any one thing..except Jesus. I can imagine not playing the guitar anymore, though with a great deal of loss, or one of the other instruments I dabble with, but I don’t see life without seeking the Lord.
Luckily, I don’t have to do anything like that. But it doesn’t mean I don’t struggle, don’t worry about being enough, doing enough, being the person I think God wants me to be. I’m alcoholic, and at this writing I’ve been sober for a little more than 33 years. What I’ve learned through the program of Alcoholics Anonymous is a straightforward way of seeking God — no pretense, no BS, but a sheer look up from the floor and crying for help. I’ve been a pastor for nearly 18 years, and a churchman for most of my life, and I’ve seen more honest cries for help more regularly in recovery rooms than anywhere else.
There’s a gift in losing all you have, and finding out what you held on to was worthless. Living a life in truth — “practicing these principles in all our affairs” — leads to the abundant life Jesus talks about in John’s Gospel, or so it seems to me.
Here’s a couple of verses I’ve been thinking about in the last few weeks, and I took the blog title from the second one. Both of these quotes are from Eugene Peterson’s The Message:
I have been crucified with Christ. My ego is no longer central. It is no longer important that I appear righteous before you and have your good opinion, and I am no longer driven to impress God. Christ lives in me. The life you see me living is not “mine”, but it is lived by faith in the Son of God, who loved me and gave himself for me. I am not going to go back on that. Galatians 2:20
This notion of dying to self, and putting it in these terms that “my ego is no longer central” is so eye-opening, isn’t it? I am not going to be so preoccupied with what you are thinking of me, or if you are thinking of me, and I’m not going to keep trying to prove myself to God. I don’t have to — God loves me, and I don’t have to keep trying to prove that to myself or others.
Here’s the second quote, this one from Matthew 11:
Are you tired? Worn out? Burned out on religion? Come to me. Get away with me and you’ll recover your life. I’ll show you how to take a real rest. Walk with me and work with me — watch how I do it. Learn the unforced rhythms of grace. I won’t lay anything heavy or ill-fitting on you. Keep company with me and you’ll learn to live freely and lightly. Matthew 11: 26-30.
I’ve got a lot to learn about writing a blog, and I’ll include some sermons in this as well and perhaps a podcast, but it’s good for all of us to remember that God loves us, and we don’t have to prove it to ourselves, to others, or to God.
We are invited to live into it. Maybe you’d like to walk with me on this journey.
Wonderful reflection. This causes me to reflect on what the church can learn from Alcoholics Anonymous. One thing that most visitors of an AA meeting have in common is that they all understand that a part of them is burdened or broken. There is work that needs to be done to fix the situation they find themselves in. In the church, helping the visitors (and members) to understand their burden and brokenness is much more difficult. It is often their denial of this truth that prevents them from “crying for help.”
God bless you Frank!
I have also seen more honest cries for help in the rooms than in the church. The honesty of people in recovery who learn if they lie they die is something I have longed to see in the church. We all have issues. But the pressure to appear perfect or to have all the answers is overwhelming and stifling.
Thank you Frank for sharing this, I love this “There’s a gift in losing all you have, and finding out what you held on to was worthless” It reminds me of that song ‘All I once helped dear’ certainly need to learn the unforced rhythms of grace.
Thank you, Rob.
The letting go can feel like a free fall until it feels like flying. Terrifying and then freeing.
That’s really good. Thank you Sandra.
Enjoyed reading your blogs. So informative and help me to reflect on my purpose.
Thank you Margy. Glory to God!