recovery in Christ when life is broken

How Can You Know God’s Will in the Midst of Recovery

I remember the feeling of desperation during the first couple of months of alcoholism recovery. I felt like everything, literally everything, was changing. I was going through a divorce, living on a friend’s couch, owned only two boxes of clothes, and my sales job became unappealing because I was only there to try to get rich. But the LORD had suddenly changed my heart and identity. I was even questioning if the city in which I was living was best for me given my unhealthy relationships and addiction patterns.

When I told my sponsor, “I feel like I need to quit my job and move, once the house sells,” he said, “We don’t recommend any big life changes during your recovery.” I responded with something like, “I don’t understand how I can not make big changes in my recovery. I have been living as ‘lord of my own life’ for the past 12 years. I am self-destructing. I feel desperate for big changes—especially to follow God and His will for me.” I searched for articles on how to know the will of God. I had lived by my own selfish, sinful wisdom and was afraid of making more decisions apart from knowing God’s direction.

God says that if you lack wisdom, He will give it to you if you ask (James 1:5). He wants to lead you. God knows what is best. The following Seven Cs will help you know God’s will according to His word. Try to place your situation through all seven of these principles. If you focus solely on one principle, you may misinterpret God’s will. God’s answer becomes clearer as you filter your situation through all seven. For instance, if you just go off conviction—knowing that the heart is deceitful (Jeremiah 17:9)—your personal desires might cloud your decision. But, if your conviction lines up with God’s Word, the counsel of other Christians, capabilities, etc., you can begin to have a confidence that you’re following His will.

Seven Cs of discerning God’s Will: 

  1. Communication with God (prayer to know His will; Psalm 139:23-24)
  2. Conviction (a sense of right and wrong from God that aligns with His word; 1 Corinthians 2:12-16)
  3. Church (leaders of your local church; Hebrews 13:17)
  4. Community (counsel through those committed to helping you grow spiritually; Proverbs 15:22)
  5. Canon (God’s word, the Bible; 2 Timothy 3:16-17)
  6. Circumstances (Is this decision even a possibility? Paul felt called to return to Thessalonica but circumstances—as organized by Satan—prevented him 1 Thessalonians 2:8)
  7. Capabilities (Are you able according to your gifts? For example, you may feel passionate about being a worship leader but you are unable to sing; 1 Corinthians 12, Ephesians 4, 1 Peter 4)

When I was considering quitting my job and going into a one-year discipleship program, I unknowingly used the steps listed above. I pleaded with God to direct me (1). I felt in my spirit that I was done chasing money to get rich (2). My pastor and his wife thought the discipleship program sounded like a great option (3). Christians close to me thought it was a good idea (though some coworkers and drinking friends thought it was extreme) (4). Proverbs 16:16 says “How much better to get wisdom than gold.” (5). I tried some business interviews and they didn’t progress; I applied and interviewed with the discipleship program and they gave me a full scholarship and a work-study job (6). I eagerly desired to know God’s word and to be discipled…I sensed I was going to be in ministry the rest of my life (7).

All of that combined, I made the decision to enter the discipleship program and it was one of the best decisions of my life. I had peace, joy and confirmation as I followed that road. It was so freeing to trust God and not lean on my own understanding like I did in the past. Though the process of discerning God’s may take some time and wrestling, the result is so good and freeing.

God loves you. He wants to help you make big decisions and small decisions. He has a divine plan for you and has gifted you for a purpose in this plan. If your desire is to honor God in all you do, he will show you the path to take.

Romans 12:1-2, I appeal to you therefore, brothers, by the mercies of God, to present your bodies as a living sacrifice, holy and acceptable to God, which is your spiritual worship. Do not be conformed to this world, but be transformed by the renewal of your mind, that by testing you may discern what is the will of God, what is good and acceptable and perfect.

-John E.

in Fear

Finding God through Facing our Fears

InsideoutFear

I recently watched the Disney film Inside Out, where Riley, an 11-year-old girl, faces unknowns when her family moves across the country. In the “control room” of Riley’s mind, five emotions are personified and guide her life. One of these emotions is Fear, whose job is to protect Riley from danger. He is constantly on the lookout and evaluating potential risks. But unregulated, Fear is very unsure, panicky and, at times, completely ruling Riley’s life.

Similar to Riley, apart from Christ, unhealthy fear can rule my life. There is a healthy God given-fear to help and protect us. It warns us of danger and draws us close to God for his courage, strength and direction.

There are unhealthy fears, too. Fears of our sinful human nature distort what is true about our circumstances, identity, and most importantly, God Himself. Unhealthy fears push us away from God and protect sin. These fears tell us that God is not good, he does not love us, he cannot be trusted and he will not provide. They urge us to take matters into our own hands and to not trust God.

Fear has had various “flavors” throughout my own life. I’ve had fear of: rejection, failure, not belonging, hardship, aging, loss of beauty/health, and being unsupported without direction. When I don’t admit and bring my fears to Jesus, I choose to be a slave to fear. And as a result, I live with unhealthy patterns. I self-protect. I over-work or withdraw to avoid failure or rejection. I worry. I avoid the risks of truly loving someone because it may be hard. The root of my fear is that I don’t trust God for my significance and fail to rely upon Him to meet my needs. I am afraid that God is not enough for me or that His plans for me won’t be best.

But there is great hope! When I admit my lack of faith to God and I am honest about my fears, He leads me step-by-step on the healing path. He reveals unhealed wounds, false beliefs or idols affecting my life. These things get in the way of my relationship with God and my relationships with others. When I let God address my heart’s distractions, God begins to heal me and recapture my heart. He leads me through my fears into real truth, intimacy, freedom and love.

Being courageous doesn’t mean you will never have fears. Courage is coming to God when you are afraid, trusting Him with your fear and allowing Him to lead you through the unknown. Here are a few questions to help you turn to God when you are afraid:

  • What is your specific fear?
  • What is the root of your fear? Are you trying to protect, avoid or gain something?
  • What do you believe about your circumstances, or yourself?
  • What do you believe about God?
  • What does God say in His Word about your answers above?

Below are a few wonderful truths about God and how we can trust Him with our fears. These scriptures would be great to memorize if you struggle with fear:

  • “I sought the LORD, and he answered me and delivered me from all my fears.” (Psalm 34:4)
  • “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)
  • “For I am sure that neither death nor life, nor angels nor rulers, nor things present nor things to come, nor powers, nor height nor depth, nor anything else in all creation, will be able to separate us from the love of God in Christ Jesus our Lord.” (Romans 8:38-39)

If nothing can separate us from a good, loving and powerful God, then we can trust God’s control rather than submit to our fears. Through Christ, we can trust God to lead us in love through any adventure.

-Liz B.

If you want more information on this topic, check out these stories about trusting God when you are afraid or anxious

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recovery in Christ when life is broken.