Any parent knows this: love is chosen. You cannot, in the end, force anyone to love you.
So, if you are writing a story where love is the meaning, where love is the highest and best of all, where love is the point, then you have to allow each person a choice. You have to allow freedom. You cannot force love. God gives us the dignity of freedom, to choose for or against Him (and friends, to ignore Him is to choose against Him).
This is the reason for what (C.S.) Lewis called the Problem of Pain. Why would a kind and loving God create a world where evil is possible? Doesn’t He care about our happiness? Isn’t He God? Indeed, He does and is. He cares so much for our happiness that He endows us with the capacity to love and to be loved, which is the greatest happiness of all.
He endows us with a dignity that is almost unimaginable.
For this creator God is no puppeteer.
“Trust me in this one thing, God says to us. “I have given the entire earth to you, for your joy. Explore it; awaken it; take care of it for me. And I have given you one another, for love and romance and friendship. You shall be my intimate allies. But on this one matter you must trust me. Trust that my heart for you is good, that I am withholding this for a reason. Do not eat of the fruit of the Tree of the Knowledge of Good and Evil…or you will die?” (The Epic pp 52 – 54 by John Edlredge)
So as I read this I was struck by the question – “Do I believe that God has good will towards me?” That His desire for me, for us to not eat of the fruit is because of His love for us and not for His own “control” issues? Of course the Sunday School answer is “Yes, surely, God has good will towards me.” But does my life and how I relate to Him match what I say? Does my practical, everyday lived out theology match up with my spoken or professed theology. Does my prayer life and even how I read His word match up with that thought? For all the years prior to recovery, no it did not I must dare to say.
What about today? Right now? In this moment of time? “Do I believe God has good will towards me?” Or am I still buying into the lie that Satan deceived Adam and Eve with back in the Garden? Do I still believe that God is holding out on me? And with all my heart I want to answer, “No, by no means! I know God’s heart is for me! I know that He has good will towards me! I know that I no longer buy into that original lie! And I know that if He is holding out on me, that it is out of love!” This morning though, I don’t think I am there yet, not completely anyway.
Does this mean my recovery has failed – no not at all. It just means that there is so much more that I have to learn and unlearn. I am finding that recovery is as much about “unlearning” or deprogramming the lies out of my life as it is learning how God sees me and applying His truth to my life.
Three years ago God gave me a picture of what I had done to my life and my marriage with the sin and bad choices I had made. It is like standing amidst a home or a building that had been just torn down. There is rubble everywhere; dust is still in the air, swirling so much that you cannot see very well and everything is a mess. The only thing that seems of any value is the foundation, but the rest is a disaster. So for the last three years it has been a process of clearing of the rubble and to get down to that foundation which was still good. In the process of clearing away the rubble, each piece is to be examined, to see if it is of any use or if the material was to warped by the damage or the choices I have made.
What mornings like this are for me are like a sign-post from God saying, “Move in this direction” or “Keep your current course” or “Adjust this way or that.” As those sign-posts guide me they almost never lead me into a lush green valley where the going is easy. Most of the time it is a pretty rough path and it takes its toll on me emotionally. The good news is that I often find fellow travelers walking a similar route, struggling as I am, but we pat each other on the back and encourage each other to press on with worship, prayer and stories of what the sign-post maker has been saying to us.
On mornings like this when I see that I have such a long way to go, when tears fall because I see a lacking in the development of my character or I see a new level of work the God desires to do and once again realize I have not measured up. When I see my powerlessness to effect the change in my life that I know needs to come. When the Serenity Prayer keeps echoing through my head. When I realize that it is time to surrender once again. When I once again turn to God’s Word in Mark 1:11 and hear Him say to me, “You are my beloved son, in you I am well pleased.” When I see the need for the truth of God’s Word to etch itself on my heart. It is on mornings like this I am learning what it means when we say “it works if you work it” and I am learning what it means to celebrate my recovery, because for all the work that needs to be done in my life, I have found what I didn’t have three plus years ago - hope.
Reflection thoughts from Tim- Encourager Coach CR and Top portion from the book “The Epic” by John Eldredge. The second part is my response to what I read.