Have you ever owned something custom made just for you? I’ve been thinking about this today as I reflect on the process of going through Regen. If you haven’t been following the blog, I am working through a Christ centered 12 step program called Regeneration.
The 12 steps aren’t about getting rid of something which plagues me. They’re about gaining something priceless. Going through the steps is helping transform my faith into a more personal and unique relationship with the God of the Universe.
This relationship is the most valuable thing I have experienced in this world. It beats out epic adventures, grand feasts, and all the luxuries money can buy. It even beats out relationships with other people.
I struggle with treating all of those things as idols; the last one in particular. I assume they’re a more reliable source comfort, strength, and peace than God. My head has known this isn’t true for awhile, but my heart continues to seek out those treasures instead of God.
Things didn’t start to change until I started working through the twelve steps. The tide began to turn in this battle when I came face to face with the ugly parts of my past. This was not easy.
It’s my tendency to push every bad thing in my past, either done by me or to me, into the deepest closet of my mind.
My hope is to bury it all down deep and smother it with enough good things. This is where the idols come into play. I want to be overwhelmed by experiences, stuff, and people which make me feel good.
My hope is the bad stuff in my past will be overwhelmed as well. Whenever anything bad comes to haunt me, I try to beat it back with the ‘good life’. I justified this approach by including my faith in what I thought of as the ‘good life’.
I recognized in word and deed that knowing Jesus and telling others about him was the greatest joy in life. I also wanted to to use this joy to defeat the demons of my past. It was a little like marrying someone for the sake of financial safety.
You can still show that person plenty of love and grow to care for them more than you expected. The foundation of the relationship will still be built on serving yourself. My relationship with Christ was built on getting enough good feelings to block out all the bad feelings of my past.
God is faithful though and my selfish desires didn’t stop him from loving me. He still showered me with plenty of great blessings. He even stayed faithful in our relationship and led me to start Regen.
It’s in this process where I stared into the eyes of my past. During this process, I recognized God stands right next to me during even the hardest times. It’s in this process where he told me none of my past defines me.
I don’t need a single good experience, relationship, or material thing to counteract or cover up the bad things in my past. God’s incredible love and healing can and will redeem all of it. While I might not see the redemption on this side of Heaven, it will still happen.
I am confident of this because of the powerful works I’ve witnessed up to this point.
Going through Step Four, known as Inventory, was one of these works. I like to think of my past sins and wounds in a general sense. It makes them feel a bit more manageable.
This approach falls apart when you write them all down on a spreadsheet. I felt numb at times when I stared at large sections of my inventory. No amount of the ‘good life’ could make up for everything on those pages.
I read through some provided verses each time I worked on my inventory and they helped me deal. They pointed to the truth of who I am in Christ and how the God of the Universe sees me. Reading those verses every other day showed me how God’s love and healing is more powerful than anything in my life. (I put the verses below)
Christ’s sacrifice covers each and every one of my sins. Christ knows about every wound my heart has suffered over the years. He desires to work through each one and heal me.
He is patient to do this and will not give up on his effort of healing; even if he must wait till I get to Heaven.
I experienced God’s love and healing deal with the specific sins and pains of my past. It made my faith in him more personal and unique like a custom tailored suit. When I think about Christ’s redeeming love, it’s now less of a theological ideal and more of a gift made just for me.
Do you struggle to think of God’s love as something personal or specific? Do you struggle to think about or face the hard times in your past? Have you ever considered working through the difficulties of your past with your church small group or a recovery ministry?
There is therefore now no condemnation for those who are in Christ Jesus. For the law of the Spirit of life has set you free in Christ Jesus from the law of sin and death. – Romans 8:1-2
For all who are led by the Spirit of God are sons of God. For you did not receive the spirit of slavery to fall back into fear, but you have received the Spirit of adoption as sons, by whom we cry, ‘Abba! Father!’ – Romans 8:14-15
Who shall separate us from the love of Christ? Shall tribulation, or distress, or persecution, or famine, or nakedness, or danger or sword?…No, in all of these things we are more than conquerors through him who loved us. – Romans 8:35,37
Image Copyright: Olu Eletuby