What is better, to depend on God or to depend upon ourselves?

heavenly-hug

The October 1st reading from the Twenty Four Hours A Day book teaches us, “Whatever spiritual help you need, whatever spiritual help you desire for others, look  to God.  Seek that God’s will be done in your life and seek that your will conforms to His.  Failures come from depending too much on your own strength.”

I have created a simple prayer that helps me to keep focused on Jesus.  I keep this taped to the front of my computer at work: “In every hour and in every day, I am focusing on Jesus and asking Him for help”.  It is true that when I rely on myself to run my life, I make mistakes because I lack power.  Jesus invites us to tap into the His power.  Jesus is the Creator of the Universe, He cares about us and loves us enough to help us with our lives.

Have you ever heard a quiet and calm voice that is calling to your spirit?  The October 1st reading from the Twenty Four Hours A Day book reminds us of an invitation from the Bible, “Behold, I stand at the door and knock.  If any man hears my voice and opens the door, I will come in to him and will remain with him and him with me.”  “The knocking of God’s spirit, asking to come into your life, is due to no merit of ours, though it is in response to the longing of our heart.  Keep a listening ear, an ear bent to catch the sound of the gentle knocking at the door of your heart by the spirit of God.  Then open the door of your heart and let God’s spirit come in.” 

You know, it is amazing to think that what we see, that is the material world here on planet Earth, is not what we should be pursuing to truly live a vibrant life.  It is almost like we are on the wrong TV channel and do not know that the Truth is just one click away.  All of us are massively distracted away from the spiritual world and become focused obsessively on the material world.  We live in the material, physical world like fish in a fish bowl. We can never receive eternal life and true fulfillment in this life. 

The October 23rd reading in the Twenty Four Hours A Day book shows us that, “Though it may seem a paradox, we must believe in spiritual forces which we cannot see, more than in material things which we can see, if we are going to truly live.  Relationships can only survive if they have a spiritual foundation.  “Between one human being and another only spiritual forces will suffice to keep them in harmony.  These spiritual forces we know, because we can see their results although we cannot see them.  A changed life—a new personality—results from the power of unseen spiritual forces working in us and through us.”

So how does all of this apply to my life and to yours?  Eighteen years ago, when I was blessed with a new life of sobriety and freedom from addiction, I did not even recognize the spiritual changes that were developing inside of my heart and my mind.  Before my surrender to Jesus, I had survived homelessness, violence on the street and I had become filled with anger, rage, fear and an aching loneliness that I could feel in my bones.  I  isolated myself from other people emotionally, and spiritually, I was like the walking dead.  I was dead spiritually and running scared. 

My spirit was crushed and there was no love on the streets.  In fact, I had to become mean, just to survive.  I became a stranger to myself and I used alcohol, cocaine and marijuana to become numb to who I had become and deal with my environment.  The disease of addiction had stripped me of every standard, every moral belief that used to be the foundation of my conduct.  I left no room for Jesus, and in fact, I was running away from Him.  I was fearful that I had gone too far and that there was no hope left for me.

I was on the edge of death, looking down over a huge cliff as death smiled and encouraged me to jump.  Death promised me final relief from the torture of addiction.  There was nothing left for me in my addictive world, and I was so terribly tired of fighting the disease of addiction.  I was minutes away from giving up and losing all hope.  I saw several other homeless people walk to the edge of that cliff of no hope and they died.  They never came back because with no hope they had nothing to live for.  Their spirits were completely crushed and they died.  Hope is everything and without it, addicts die.

Some of you may be thinking, “Well, I am not that advanced in my addiction and I would never get to the point that Bob did.”  I have a wake up call for you!  The disease of addiction is an evil train that will kill you quickly or kill you slowly, but it is determined to succeed.  The train from hell will faithfully take you from Point A to Point B whether you like it or not.  The only solution is to get off of the train, surrender, and ask Jesus for help!  You can find help at treatment centers, hospitals, churches and recovery meetings.

Even if you stop using chemicals for ten years, if you go back to it and relapse, it will be like you never stopped using.  Why is this?  Because the disease of addiction is progressive whether you are using or not using.  So a person who stops using for ten years and then relapses will experience this phenomenon.  When they relapse, it will be like they had been using chemicals for all of that ten years that they were sober.  They will find themselves not where they were ten years ago, but they will find themselves where they would have been if they had been using for all of those ten years.  So it is possible that they could be right at a “bottom” that they have never experienced before, because the disease of addiction is progressive.  The disease of addiction continues to progress whether we use chemicals or not.

Can you imagine where I would be if I relapsed after 18 years sober?  Since my particular bottom was homelessness, jails, 13 treatment centers and spiritual bankruptcy, it is most likely that I would die soon after relapsing.  I have no intention of relapsing, but this is a disease that is “cunning, baffling and powerful” and it is vicious and very patient.  I have a lot of respect for and healthy fear of the disease of addiction, because I almost lost my life five times, until I said a very special and simple prayer.

When I was at the end of my addictive rope and when I was sick with pancreatitis, and overwhelmed with fear and rage and an all-consuming loneliness and sleeping in a utility closet in an alley behind my favorite bar, I cried out to Jesus with this powerful and simple prayer: “Jesus, please help me”.  Finally, I made my surrender to Jesus.  A few days later, I found myself in chemical dependency treatment at Hazelden Foundation in Minnesota.  This is where I found my freedom from addiction and started my new life, because of what Jesus did for me.  My first surrender was the prayer in the alley that I said to Jesus and my second surrender was at Hazelden when they said, ” you are devastated emotionally, mentally and spiritually,  You may not make it.  Are you willing to commit to nine months of treatment?  I surrendered a second time by saying, “Yes, I am willing to do whatever it takes not to go back to the hell of the streets”.  I was on my way to my new life.

Yes, there were spiritual forces that blessed me with freedom from addiction, and a new personality and a new life.  I had recovered from addiction and my old life was finally destroyed—thank god!  I had become a new creature.  This is the quote that I shared earlier: “These spiritual forces we know, because we can see their results although we cannot see them.  A changed life—a new personality—results from the power of unseen spiritual forces working in us and though us.”  If I can get sober after such a low bottom, and after facing certain death, you can recover too!  If I can do it with the help of Jesus, so can you!  I pray that my story will give you hope, a hope that will save your life!  Peace and Love to you!

 

About The Author

Robert J. Allison lives in Saint Paul, Minnesota with his wife Rochelle Allison. Robert survived a 28-year battle with chemical dependency, including 13 chemical dependency treatment centers and homelessness. He surrendered his life to Jesus Christ and began his new life of faith and contented sobriety. Robert has been blessed with 18 years of sobriety and with his new freedom he now is helping other addicts to find peace, faith and the priceless gift of sobriety.

Blind Spots and Repeating the Pain of our Past

LetGo

Have you ever been driving your car at high speed down the highway and thought that there were no cars around you, so you begin merging over to the left lane, only to discover that you have narrowly missed hitting a car that was hidden from your view in your blind spot?

In life, it is my own blind spots that have kept me from seeing the truth about myself and how my life was out of control and dominated by the disease of addiction.  During my nine months of chemical dependency treatment at Hazelden Foundation in Minnesota, my counselor would often say to me, “Bob, listen closely to what I am saying, you have a blind spot and you are not seeing how the disease of addiction has been killing you.”  One day, I was able to step back outside of myself and observe my own behavior.  Finally, I saw what my counselor was talking about, and it was a breakthrough in my recovery.  That was 18 years ago, but I still have dangerous blind spots, many of which arise out of my selfishness and pride.

I recently was horrified that even after 18 years of sobriety, the ghosts of my past still haunt me, my past can come to live in my present.  Here is a current example.  I was taking a leadership and personal development seminar with 76 other people.  All of us have automatic reactions to certain situations.  My primary automatic reaction is that when I feel threatened or disrespected or mocked by a person, I explode into an exaggerated level of aggression, and I verbally shred that person as part of my defense mechanism and my survival mode.  So the teacher said something that caused me to feel threatened and insulted and in two seconds, I went from being content and calm, to a full-blown Werewolf.  In three aggressive sentences, I communicated my message to her, which was “Back-off and Leave Me Alone!”

I was experiencing a major blind spot and the pull of my past.  When I was homeless and living on the streets, this response to being threatened or insulted was one way that I survived.  I had no idea that I was going to react that way—it was automatic and lightning fast.  I learned that I was using my past of addiction and homelessness, and all the rage and anger that I had survived through, as ammunition against anyone who threatened or disrespected me in my present.  I was using my past as a weapon.  I stayed for the rest of the seminar and I was able to open my mind to why I reacted the way that I did.  I was able to work with the teacher to identify my blind spots, and I got a lot out of the class.  I learned that I was still living in and being controlled by my past.

I had not completely released and said goodbye to my past, and it was negatively affecting my present relationships.  I had a liberating experience in that seminar and I finally began to understand that I was living in a prison of my past, wondering why I felt so angry and depressed.  My past was preventing me from being free in my present.  Our past is bound to repeat itself unless we say goodbye to it, release it from us, and then start our new life of freedom.

I also learned a fascinating fact.  Not only can our past dominate our present, our past can also live in our future.  Here is an example:  Let’s say that six months ago you purchased airplane tickets to Hawaii.  Every day after you got the tickets, you think about how great the trip will be, how beautiful the weather is going to be and you dream about the beautiful Hawaiian mountains and the spectacular ocean.  As the time to fly to Hawaii gets closer, you are super excited and smiling at everyone at work and telling stories with your family members about the trip.   You are happy and excited, almost like you were already in Hawaii.  You bought the tickets six months ago in the past, but you are living in the future as if you were already in Hawaii. Your future is being experienced by you in your present.  One more thought:  In our present, we create our future.  We are not victims or slaves to our future.  We create our future while we are in our present.  The lives we have today, we have deliberately created.

I have been able to say goodbye to most of my past.  All that remains are the few secrets that I have been too ashamed to reveal.  They say that you are only as sick as your secrets—so I have a little farther to go before I am completely free.  The disease of addiction came close to taking my life five times.  I am very grateful to God for saving my life and giving me a new life.  I want to use the talents that He gave me to encourage and empower others to get free.

How do we talk to God?  Quiet time and prayer are very good, but an additional way to communicate with God is to empower others.  If I help ten people to get sober and empower them to recover and then those ten people each help ten other people to recover, then we have 100 people who have been empowered and if each of them empower ten more people, then we have 1000 people who now have freedom from addiction.  And it keeps on going forward like ripples in the water created by the stone that you throw.  We create the future and we can change people’s lives!

About The Author

Robert J. Allison lives in Saint Paul, Minnesota with his wife Rochelle Allison. Robert survived a 28-year battle with chemical dependency, including 13 chemical dependency treatment centers and homelessness. He surrendered his life to Jesus Christ and began his new life of faith and contented sobriety. Robert has been blessed with 18 years of sobriety and with his new freedom he now is helping other addicts to find peace, faith and the priceless gift of sobriety.

What blocks us and separates us from God?

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So what does block us and separate us from God?  The reading from July 17th in the book Jesus Calling, identifies “busyness” as one of the major blocks to having a personal relationship with God:  “You live among people who glorify busyness; they have made time a tyrant that controls their life.  Even those who know me as Savior tend to march to the tempo of the world.  They have bought into the illusion that more is always better: more meetings, more programs, more activity.  I have called you to follow Me on a solitary path, making time alone with me your highest priority and deepest joy…..as you walk close to Me, I can bless others through you.”

How can we get closer to God?  I think that the answer is simple.  If we want to get closer to a friend, then we need to spend more time with them.  If we want to get closer to God, then we need to spend more time with Him.  My ultimate goal is to depend upon God in every hour and in every day.  The October 7th reading in the book Jesus Calling, gives us specific instructions on how to listen to God’s voice:  “In order to hear My voice, you must release all your worries into My care.  Entrust to Me everything that concerns you.  This clears the way for you to seek My face unhindered.  Let Me free you of fear that is hiding deep inside you.  Sit quietly in My Presence, allowing My light to soak into you and drive out any darkness lodged within you.”

There are more blocks that prevent each of us from getting closer to God.  The July 17th reading in the Twenty Four Hour A Day book communicates this powerfully:  “God does not withhold His presence from you.  He does not refuse to reveal more of His truth to you.  He does not hold back His spirit from you.  He does not withhold the strength that you need.  His presence, His truth, His spirit, His strength are always immediately available to you, whenever you are fully willing to receive them.  But they may be blocked off by selfishness, intellectual pride, fear, greed, and materialism.  We must try to get rid of these blocks and let God’s spirit come in.”

Many of us are blocked by our fear of the future.  The reading on September 17th in the book Jesus Calling, shares a solution to our fear of the future:  “I did not design the human mind to figure out the future.  That is beyond your capability.  I crafted your mind for continual communication with Me.  Bring Me all of your needs, your hopes, and fears.  Commit everything into my care.  Turn from the path of planning to the path of peace.”

My best days are when I am fully aware and focused on the present day and when I turn over my worries, fears, hopes and dreams to Jesus.  I do not want to be blocked from Jesus, the Creator of the Universe.  I am starting by making prayer and quiet time my highest priority in the morning before the world comes crashing in.  I enjoy reading the Bible, the book Jesus Calling and the Twenty Four Hours A Day book.  If I forget reading in the morning, I feel like something is missing and I do not feel quite right.  If I can, I go back and do the readings and then I feel complete.  So remember, God wants you to spend time with Him.

 

 

 

About The Author

Robert J. Allison lives in Saint Paul, Minnesota with his wife Rochelle Allison. Robert survived a 28-year battle with chemical dependency, including 13 chemical dependency treatment centers and homelessness. He surrendered his life to Jesus Christ and began his new life of faith and contented sobriety. Robert has been blessed with 18 years of sobriety and with his new freedom he now is helping other addicts to find peace, faith and the priceless gift of sobriety.