Saturday, September 19, 2009

Halting Between Two Opinions

Here is a bit I wrote a little over a year ago. I just returned from an LDS Addiction Recovery Program Conference and what I wrote back then seemed pertinent to what we discussed today. I decided I'd post it again here. It all still applies.

As you know, my life has had it's ups and downs this Summer. While I have not fallen off the wagon, I have wandered some distance down the wrong road. My blood pressure has been up and my anxiety levels high.

You need to understand that addiction is not what it seems. The outward manifestation, be it drugs, alcohol, gambling, porn, Twinkies, is just that, the symptom, but not the problem. The problem is something deeper and painful and quite possibly unidentified. I’ve been writing and pondering madly for days trying to identify the fork in the road that took me in the wrong direction.

Today, I was given my answer. I was writing, something I always do, to sort things out. I was expressing the dismay I’ve felt of late about my new job and my uncertain future. I’ve taken a job as a salesman. I have a lot of uncertainly as to the frequency and size of my paychecks. The economy troubles me. The price of fuel dismays me. My own inadequacy frightens me. I don’t know what the future brings and it gives me a great deal of anxiety. Then, a phrase of scripture came into my mind, “How long halt ye between two opinions..?” I had no idea where to find it, so I looked it up in the concordance. I found it in 1 Kings 18:21.

It was the story of Elijah’s famous contest with the priests of Baal during which God consumed Elijah’s offering with fire, while that of the false God did nothing. Elijah was calling upon Israel to make up their minds. Unlike Joshua who had earlier declared, “Choose you this day whom ye will serve…but as for me and my house, we will serve the Lord.” (Joshua 24:15) The verse was inspirational and encouraging but I couldn’t see the answer that was before me. I was still stuck on the decision regarding my choice of employment. I couldn’t see how that could be a choice between God and Baal. Surely, I was choosing the Lord, wasn’t I?

Then another phrase of scripture passed through my mind, “Oh thou of little faith, wherefore didst thou doubt?” I found that in Matthew 14:31. Here is the story of Peter walking on the water. I'm not being facetious. I've never understood why we typically call it the story of Jesus walking on the water. That was no big deal. The big deal was that Peter walked on the water. The phrase was the Saviour’s mild rebuke of Peter who, fearing the waves began to sink beneath them. I wasn’t too sure what this story meant for me, but I determined to find out.

At my new job I have made a new friend. He is Pastor of a local Landmark Baptist congregation. His specialty at Divinty School was Coyne Greek. My good friend has taught me, that much can be gained from understanding the original Greek meanings of the words found in the New Testament. I just recently acquired Bullinger’s Lexicon of New Testament Greek.

I decided to look up the original meaning of the words in Matthew 14:31. Two words were most informative. I looked up faith and found that in this case the Greek word chosen had only been used four times in the New Testament and all by the Master himself. It has been translated into English as

'of little faith’ and means: to rebuke four states of mind, viz., anxiety, fear, doubt and forgetfulness. I felt my searching was on the right track. I was full of fear, doubt and great anxiety. I didn’t yet comprehend forgetfulness. Then I looked up the word doubt. The definition of the original Greek word translated as doubt was this: to stand in two ways, being uncertain as to which to take. I was shocked, for it lead me right back to my first prompting, “How long halt ye between to opinions….?”

It was then that I realized what Heavenly Father has been trying to tell me. I am like Peter. I am figuratively walking on water. My struggles of late have come because I have taken my eye off my Master and have allowed myself to look at the boisterous waves of economic and political commotion that surround me. No wonder I have been sinking in despair!

This is not a new concept for me. I have long considered my ability to proceed through life entirely free of my addiction to be no less a miracle than walking on water. To the flesh, they are equally impossible. Yet day after day, I go forth, temptation free, to live a life of joy as though I had never been an addict. I was foundering and in need of rebuke for my forgetfulness. I had forgotten to whom I must look for my safety and salvation.

My struggles came because I had taken my eyes off of the Redeemer, who sustains me in recovery and had looked in fear at the turbulent chaos around me. They were prolonged because I supposed the fork in the road that was troubling me was whether or not to change employment. Instead, however, I discovered that the real decision was, is and always will be, whether or not to trust God and keep my attention focussed on Him.

My heart is led to these words given of Jehovah to Joshua, and all of Israel, including us: “Be strong and of a good courage; be not afraid, neither be thou dismayed; for the Lord thy God is with thee whithersoever thou goest.” (Joshua 1:9) Whithersoever – no matter where I go or what paths in life I choose, if I can but ignore the turmoil around me and trust in God, I will be sustained above the stream.

Like Peter, I called out to my Lord saying, “Lord, save me. And immediately Jesus stretched forth his hand, and caught” me. I felt the anxiety, fear and doubt drain out of me. I had been so stressed that I felt ill, but now I was renewed and refreshed.

No comments:

Related Posts Plugin for WordPress, Blogger...