I didn’t really want to write this post, but I kept feeling a nudge to mark this time and remember the goodness of God in my life.
In Joshua 4 God told Joshua to command the priests of Israel to choose 12 stones from the river Jordan and set them up as memorials to remember God’s faithfulness in delivering them across the Jordan River on dry ground.
“In the future when your descendants ask their parents, ‘What do these stones mean?’ 22 tell them, ‘Israel crossed the Jordan on dry ground.’ 23 For the Lord your God dried up the Jordan before you until you had crossed over. The Lord your God did to the Jordan what he had done to the Red Sea when he dried it up before us until we had crossed over. 24 He did this so that all the peoples of the earth might know that the hand of the Lord is powerful and so that you might always fear the Lord your God.”
The hand of the Lord is powerful. He did deliver me from a desperate past so that I might remember Him and boast in Him and Him alone.
“26 Brothers and sisters, think of what you were when you were called. Not many of you were wise by human standards; not many were influential; not many were of noble birth. 27 But God chose the foolish things of the world to shame the wise; God chose the weak things of the world to shame the strong. 28 God chose the lowly things of this world and the despised things—and the things that are not—to nullify the things that are, 29 so that no one may boast before him. 30 It is because of him that you are in Christ Jesus, who has become for us wisdom from God—that is, our righteousness, holiness and redemption. 31 Therefore, as it is written: “Let the one who boasts boast in the Lord.”1 Corinthians
I was the epitome of foolish. Between the ages of 15 and 20 drugs and alcohol were what I lived for. I was constantly after the next high whatever that may be. When I drank I drank till I couldn’t remember. I woke up in places I didn’t remember going to. I drove in this condition. When finally I was arrested for drunk driving I was in a black out driving the wrong way on a one way street. I spent the night in jail. I was an embarrassment to my family and pitied by what few friends I had. God surely was protecting me during those years. I should have been dead.
( Can I just say as an aside that remembering my past gives me so much gratitude for the lives my children are living. They know nothing of the heartache of addiction and while they have and will have their own trials of mistakes and hardship I am so very grateful that they have not followed the path I did early in life.)
Eventually, after a few false starts, I was able to achieve sobriety. I accepted I was an alcoholic who could not control herself after the first drink. I believed in God and I started praying daily the alcoholics prayer of step 3:
God, I offer myself to Thee-
To build with me
and to do with me as Thou wilt.
Relieve me of the bondage of self,
that I may better do Thy will.
Take away my difficulties,
that victory over them may bear witness
to those I would help of Thy Power,
Thy Love, and Thy Way of life.
May I do Thy will always!
It’s a beautiful prayer. I prayed it every morning on my knees and God surely did direct my steps. Difficulties of my own making remained but I was slowly coming to depend on God and He did with me what He willed.
We think we are in control. We think we make decisions and chart the course of our own destiny and whatever happens is our will in action. The mental wrestling of God’s will and ours is exhausting but I am comforted that He holds my life in His hands and that the past was part of His plan. Despite my weaknesses and my mistakes and what I may have meant for selfish gain He has used my life for good and the good of others.
While I often look back with regret I strive to turn that regret into stones of remembrance of how God drew me out of despair and set my feet on solid ground.
I waited patiently for the Lord;
he turned to me and heard my cry.
2 He lifted me out of the slimy pit,
out of the mud and mire;
he set my feet on a rock
and gave me a firm place to stand.
3 He put a new song in my mouth,
a hymn of praise to our God.
Many will see and fear the Lord
and put their trust in him.
Truly the grace God has poured out on my life is astounding. I eventually married a man who supported my sobriety and we started a journey that led us to the Christian faith. Here is where God’s word started to speak into our lives and brought us into a fuller understanding of how Jesus is savior and has dominion over our lives.
I don’t go to AA meetings anymore though I highly recommend them. They can be a source of much encouragement and support. I don’t talk much about being an alcoholic, though I think I have to remember that I am because I could easily slip.
I talk about it today because today is my anniversary. It’s been thirty years since the last drink. Thirty years sober. I believe God had His hand on my life from the very beginning, bringing me through many trials, allowing me to make horrible mistakes so I could eventually appreciate not only the salvation of my soul but also the opportunity to live for Him in this world.
I do have “stones of remembrance” I few pieces from my past that help me remember. A bowl from a pottery shop I worked in one summer in the midst of my drinking years is a remembrance of that time and also a sweet reminder that God is the potter of my life shaping and forming me into what He will.
I lived near the beach when I quit drinking and I also have shells, beach glass and drift wood I’ve collected and a poem I wrote fairly recently that reminds me I was broken.
pieces of a drunken night
shattered glass shattered life
never to be whole again
sharpened by the brokenness
tossed about in sand and sea
a fraction of what could be
sharpness dulls over time
edges soften through the grind
of sand and salt and the constant rub
that wears the edges of a life
till landing on the shore
a piece transformed from before
time has smoothed the brokenness
separated from the rest
now a treasure to caress
lonely fingers find a store of
beach glass on the shore
Do you have stones of remembrance of the times God has delivered you? Maybe you weren’t an alcoholic, but surely God’s worked in your life. Let him have the glory and tell it to your children.