Originally posted July 2016
When people reach out for help or are mandated by the court to receive help, the first thought is “they need to sober up.” We will not deny that sobriety is important. Scripture commands us to be sober. However, we see many people who get “sober” but are still finding life frustrating and overwhelming. They gain lawful employment, begin raising their children and live as responsible members of society, but life is lacking.
Dr. Phil has a quote that I really like. After listening to a troubled person explain their situation and what they have done to mend it he asks, “and how is that working out for you?” It’s here where the person admits that life is not going according to plan. Their attempts have left them wanting. God, as a loving Father, asks us many times in scripture to “consider your ways.” One of these is found in Haggai. God’s people were sent into exile for their sin, but in His faithfulness, He brings them back. Upon their return, they work diligently “setting up shop.”.
They build houses, plant vegetation, get their stock up to par and try to get back all that was lost. They are aware of God’s faithfulness to them and that He is their God. However, they focused more on their life in the land than on their God. Haggai 1:7-11 Thus says the LORD of hosts: “Consider your ways. Go up to the hills and bring wood and build the house, that I may take pleasure in it and that I may be glorified,” says the LORD. “You looked for much, and behold, it came to little. And when you brought it home, I blew it away. Why? “declares the LORD of hosts. “Because of my house that lies in ruins, while each of you busies himself with his own house. Therefore the heavens above you have withheld the dew, and the earth has withheld its produce. And I have called for a drought on the land and the hills, on the grain, the new wine, the oil, on what the ground brings forth, on man and beast, and on all their labors.”
One of the heartbreaks we have as leaders and disciplers, is when a recovering addict attends only to get their “life” back. They are tired of exile but have no zeal for God. They find that sobriety does bring some perks (ie, custody of child(ren), job, housing, food), but they believe that is all that is needed. We have watched many people come in excited about this new gospel and life only to watch them meander away when the ”perks” are obtained. We then see them back complaining of feeling bored and empty. Struggles begin to raise their ugly heads and all of a sudden they are disillusioned with their new-found sobriety. At this time we must gently encourage them to see that “life” is their god and “meeting” was their gospel. They have exchanged their idol, drugs or other substances, for the American dream.
We work tirelessly to remind, encourage, exhort and admonish all who walk into our groups, that sobriety is of secondary importance, that the perks and goals of establishing a “normal” life are secondary goals. Their first and most vital need is salvation. Jesus did not come to make people sober. He came to take the Father’s wrath from us and offer us forgiveness and a restored relationship with the Father. If and when they realize they need Jesus and salvation, we then teach them that Jesus is now their focus and knowing Him is the goal.
God may see fit to grant them their desires, but He may not. Just as God called out to His people through Haggai to reorder their priorities, we do the same. May we remember, as we are prone to forget, that God and His kingdom are our focus.
Nothing else will do!
Trinity Bible Church