It's a Process
Praise God I just celebrated 14 years of sobriety, 5115 days one day at a time.
March 1st 2007 I woke up in the Davidson County Jail in Nashville Tennessee. I was arrested on a probation violation and could not bond out. I waited to see a judge and spent a little over a month in jail. When I did get out I realized that if something didn't change I would soon be in prison for the rest of my life. The truth is, I didn't get sober because I wanted to be sober, I got sober because I wanted to quit going to jail (that's a whole nother message.)
As I tried to figure out how to sustain a sober lifestyle I realized I really didn't know anyone that didn't get high. If I was going to maintain my sobriety I was going to have to meet other people that didn't use drugs. I accepted an invitation to church. Still not sure that church was the answer for me. Two weeks after being released from jail I found out church was not the answer but that Jesus was! On April 22nd 2007 I asked Jesus to become the Lord of my life. Right at that moment something changed, but not everything. That's right, when i got saved something changed but everything did not change. I was still angry, a liar, foul mouthed, prone to pornography, etc.
A couple weeks later I was invited to attend a Celebrate Recovery meeting. My first thought was that I didn't need recovery because I had Jesus. Truth be known I finally agreed to attend because I was hoping to meet a woman I could date that was sober. Not the right reason but God used my reasoning to get me to show up. Once I showed up I was truly amazed. I realized I was not unique! There were many others who had the same inner struggles I had even though they were Christians. I learned that I didn't have to hide these inner sinful struggles. That Celebrate Recovery was a place where I could be honest about myself. Where I could learn to be a real Christian and not just act like a Christian when I was in public.
As I dug in to the process of recovery I realized that drugs never were my problem, they were how I was dealing with a much deeper issue of low self worth. Many others were also dealing with a self worth issue and medicating in many ways. The truth is that we all have issues. Even those Christians that appeared to me to be perfect. Paul says it like this in Romans 7:18, "For I know that good itself does not dwell in me, that is, in my sinful nature. For I have the desire to do what is good, but I cannot carry it out." If Paul, who wrote most of the New Testament struggled with a sinful nature then we all do. God doesn't want us to live in guilt and shame. Now this doesn't mean that it's ok to do the wrong thing. It just means that we need to work at being better. It's a daily decision.....it's a process!
The "process" of Celebrate Recovery is simply the best discipleship program I've ever seen. When I got saved something changed but when I plugged in to the recovery process everything changed. As a young Christian I wanted to change many things that I wanted to change. These were many times superficial changes that mattered more to me than God. As I plugged in to the process God began to work in me to change the things He wanted to change. Character defects that were wrapped around my ankles, keeping me from running my race effectively.
God continues to use the 12 Steps of Celebrate Recovery to clean me up from the inside out. This will be a process that continues until the day I meet Jesus face to face. The 8 Principles of Celebrate Recovery show me the way Jesus told us to have a happy life. I've come to realize that without this "process" I would have relapsed into my old behavior long ago. Sunday morning church is very important but it's not enough. It takes the process to cultivate a close, intimate relationship with Jesus Christ.
Salvation is free, it costs nothing. You can't earn it, you can't do enough, you can't be good enough, you can't get straight enough. It's the gift of eternity that you just have to accept. But freedom here on earth, it will cost you everything.....but if you give Him everything He will give it all back!
You see recovery is a decision followed by a process but more importantly Christianity is a decision followed by a process. If you stop with the decision you will have eternity but Jesus came to give us more than eternity. He came to also give us life and life to the full (John 10:10) Today, 14 years later I give Him everything daily and I continue to stay plugged in to the process which has given me a full life.
In Matthew 28:19 Jesus didn't say, "go out and make decisions", He said, "go out and make disciples"!