Ever been lost? I mean down right didn’t know where you where at, couldn’t find north, east, west, or south lost? I mean deep in the woods lost? Or you turned down a street and realized that you aren’t where you are supposed to be and didn’t know where you were at lost? The type of lost where you are looking for something familiar, some marker, some tree, some rock, some vista, something that will let you know where you are at but nothing looks familiar. I have been out of the country a few times and there were times when I was separated from our guides and interpreters and I felt lost. I didn’t know the land, couldn’t read the signs, couldn’t speak the language, I was lost.
How about you? Ever been lost like any these situations? No? Well, okay let’s imagine that you have been talked into an adventure; you are on a safari in the one of the deepest, densest, darkest jungles of the world. Not to worry, you are with a group of experts and have a great guide, along with a good friend of yours. You have your back-pack that is well stocked with supplies and all your needs for your trek through this jungle. As you are traveling your boot becomes untied, your friend offers to hold your back-pack while you re-tie your boot, when you rise up from lacing your boot you notice you are alone now. Your friend, the group, the guide are all gone. Apparently they didn’t stop to wait for you. It is as if the jungle has swallowed them up. The jungle growth is so thick that you can’t see what direction they went, you can’t hear them walking for all of the noise of the jungle itself. You keep spinning around looking in each direction. You are alone. You are not even sure what direction they were heading, was it over there to the right, no maybe there to the left, no back that way, maybe up over there? You go to pull out your compass but you realize that your compass is in you back-pack that your friend is carrying for you. Thirsty, you want a drink, but your canteen is in the back-pack too, along with your knife and any food you had. You are alone in the deep, dark, dense jungle. You have no way of knowing which way your party went; you have no water, no supplies. You are now lost. The canopy above you is so dense that you cannot even see the sun to which way is east or west and by now you have spun around so many times that you have lost track of the originally direction you were facing.
Sitting down on the nearest log, what emotions are you going through?
Fear? Certainly, that makes sense
Anxiety? Yeah, sure
Anger? Absolutely, anyone would understand that.
But there is one that is growing inside you the longer you are sitting there. As the reality of the situation you are in begins to take root, hopelessness begins to sit in just as deep. You have no idea what to do, no idea which way to go, no path to follow, no one to lead you out, no equipment. No hope.
Okay, now freeze that emotion for the moment. Can you feel for just a second how it feels to be out of your element? Out of solutions? Out of ideas and energy? Can you imagine, for just a moment, how it feels to be out of hope?
If so then, I dare say that you can relate to about 90% of all Newcomers that walk through the doors of Celebrate Recovery. Not only that, but I would bet dollars to doughnuts that if you are reading this, then you have found yourself sitting on your own log, in your own jungle at some point and that feeling of hopelessness was all too familiar.
The truth is; it is a jungle out there. Perhaps not like what was described above, but nonetheless it is just as dangerous and ruthless. Max Lucado puts it this way:
“For many people, life is - well, life is a jungle. Not a jungle of trees and beasts. Would that it were so simple. Would that our jungles could be cut with a machete or adversaries trapped in a cage. But our jungles are comprised of the thicker thickets of failing health, broken hearts, and empty wallets. Our forests are framed with hospital walls and divorce courts. We don’t hear the screeching of birds or the roaring of lions, but the complaints of neighbors and the demands of bosses. Our predators are our creditors, and the brush that surrounds us is the rush that exhausts us.” (Max Lucado, Traveling Light, p56)
Far be it from me to try and improve upon a great writer like Max Lucado, but I think would add to Max’s lists of predators one or two, like addictions, hurts, habits and hang ups. Regardless of what our jungles look like we all end up in the same place, sitting and the same ole dang log, our head in our hands out of hope.
I was there. I realized I was in a hole that I could not get myself out of. Oh I had tried for about 20 plus years to fight that battle and for 20 plus years I lost every time. Finally, I was at the place where I knew I was never going to win. Where I was never going to beat my compulsive behavior, my sin, I had prayed so many times for God to take it away, He didn’t. I kept trying to fight it, but in the end I knew it was hopeless, I couldn’t beat it. The only way out I could see, the only way to stop was to in taking my own life, but the pain I knew I would leave behind is the only thing that kept me taking that option.
Looking back at that last paragraph did you see my problem? One letter – “I”, I was fighting, I was trying, I kept, I, I, I, I!!!! Is it any wonder God didn’t answer my prayer; I was too busy getting in the way!!! I never gave Him opportunity to do anything!
The truth is that all my efforts to beat my compulsive behaviors, my sin, my addiction on my own left me devastated, drained and hopeless. The truth is I was at the point where I had no strength left to fight with and I had conceded that I would be in bondage to this sin for the rest of my life. I had sat down on my log, looked around my jungle, and was overwhelmed by the hopelessness of my situation. I remember thinking about asking God to do whatever it takes, but I didn’t actually pray that, I just thought about praying it. At that moment I believe all of Heaven, God the Father, God the Son and God the Holy Spirit collectively sighed because now I was out of the way. Within a week God set my feet on a path that would one day eventually lead me out of the jungle.
So what is needed when a person is sitting a log in jungle without hope? What would restore hope? Again returning to one of my favorite writers Max Lucado:
“What would it take to restore your hope? What would you need to reenergize your journey?
Though the answers are abundant, three come quickly to mind.
The first would be a person. Not just any person. You don’t need someone equally confused. You need someone who knows the way out.
And from him you need some vision. You need someone to lift your spirits. You need someone to look you in the face and say, ‘This isn’t the end, don’t give up! There is a better place and I’ll lead you there.’
And perhaps the most important you need direction. If you have only a person but no renewed vision, all you have is company. If he has a vision but no direction, you have a dreamer for company. But if you have a person with direction – who can take you from this place to the right place – ah then you have one who can restore your hope…
…Your loneliness disappears because you have fellowship.
Your despair decreases, because you have vision.
Your confusion begins to lift because you have direction.” (Max Lucado, Traveling Light, p57)
The interesting thing is that as I surrender to Jesus I find that He is leading me out of the jungle; He hasn’t removed me from the jungle. The trees still cover the sky at times. There are still predators, there are still thorns. I am still getting bumps scraps and cuts along the way. The place I am in hasn’t changed, but I have. I see that I am not made for this place, I am not equipped for it, I don’t belong here and I need to keep moving towards the day when I will be free from the jungle completely. I now have a hope, because I have allowed the Guide to lead me, this Guide now gives me the fellowship, vision and direction that have needed all along. When I look at the jungle and the direction we are going I see no path as Guide leads, the reason is the Guide is the path, “I am the Way” He says, therefore I have to keep my eyes upon the Guide. Lucado says that “Jesus doesn’t give hope by changing the jungle; He restores our hope by giving us Himself. And He promises to stay until the very end.” (Max Lucado, Traveling Light, p59)
So as you read this there are three possible places you are in. First, you may have been lead out of your jungle by the Guide! Praise Him! Share with others the hope of getting out of the jungle, it is important that they know it can be done, that the Guide provides a way out. But remember tomorrow you may find yourself in another jungle you have never been in, so tomorrow if you find yourself on log with your head in your hands, you know what to do, its time to surrender call out to the Guide and follow.
Second, you find yourself in the jungle, but you have found the Guide and you are working your way out following Him. Keep you your focus on Him, He is your path. Along the way, you may get discourage, the going gets tough, listen to the stories of those that have made it out, take heart. And if by chance you see someone sitting on a log, take the time to let them know about the Guide that can help them out of their jungle. Keep surrendering to the Guide and follow.
Third, you find yourself sitting on a log, lost in a jungle, head in your hands, exhausted, and drained, with no hope. Your heart is broken or you are in bondage to some addiction or there is some kind of hurt, habit or hang up that has left you hopeless. You have a choice, you can continue to sit there and continue in your pain and/or dysfunction and lost in a deep dark jungle that you will never be able to find your way out of and that you are not equipped to, or you can make the choice to surrender to the Guide and follow. Allow Him to provide you with the fellowship, vision and direction you need to lead you out of the jungle you are in and the healing you need. Surrender to the Guide and follow.
Tim Kelley, Encourager Coach- CR Fellowship Bible Chruch NW Arkansas
For information about Celebrate Recovery call Rodney at 479-659-3679 or firstname.lastname@example.org