What is better, to depend on God or to depend upon ourselves?
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? 22 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 22 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!