I have just had the strangest few days…
Last Thursday I was asked to preach in church next Sunday, 24th, which is something, if you have been following this blog, you will know I have really been wanting to do.
Then on Friday I spent four hours in the police station giving a video testimony of the abuse that happened to me during my childhood. It was, on the face of it, a really nasty experience. Yet I faced it head-on (it’s not the first time I have had to walk into the lions’ den) and afterwards, once I’d got over the initial sense of having survived a great storm, I felt as if my shackles had been broken.
My chains fell off, my heart was free,
I rose, went forth, and followed Thee.
Charles Wesley, ‘And Can it Be’ 1738
And where did I rise, go forth and follow God?
To Derby! (not exactly the promised land or owt, eh?)
I went to the European Celebrate Recovery conference, led by none other than John Baker and colleagues, all the way from the good ol’ USA, who had flown over specifically to lead it. It was wonderful to hear the testimony of the man who started the recovery programme that has been the method of redemption for many thousands of people.
I first went to Celebrate Recovery in 2009. You can read more about how it has changed my life here https://justzoejustlife.wordpress.com/2012/05/13/losing-hope-finding-what-i-never-looked-for-6/
Celebrate Recovery is a 12-step programme, but for everyone. Yes, you did read that correctly. It’s for everyone. All of us go through difficulties in our lives. Sometimes the difficulties can be so painful that we wonder why we are even here. What is life all about? Am I supposed to exist just to be struggling all the time? Sometimes we grow up in relatively ordinary circumstances, but we struggle with our day-to-day adult lives, be it over-eating, under-eating, anxiety, anger, depression, etc., etc. The list of struggles is endless.
We’re all broken. It’s called sin. And whether we’re broken by our own sin, or broken because of the sin of another, actually in the end it doesn’t make any difference. The grace to change comes from God alone. There are no perfect people. No perfect lives. Christians are often tremendously good at appearing to have perfect lives.
The ones who seem to have it all together may well be hiding some creaky old skeletons in the cupboard. Isn’t that dishonest? Is dishonesty part of being a follower of Christ?
Step One in Celebrate Recovery is called ‘Denial’. We’re all in denial about our ‘hurts, habits and hang-ups’, as CR describes them. The first step is recognising this denial and wanting to at least stop being in denial, wanting things to change, even if we have no clue how.
I can hear it now, ‘Aren’t Christians supposed to be all fixed? Once I’m saved, I’m ok, right?’
Really? In the beatitudes (http://www.biblegateway.com/passage/?search=Matthew+5&version=NIV), who is it that Jesus calls blessed? The core of Celebrate Recovery is the beatitudes.
I followed God’s prompting to attend the conference. Living one day at a time (another CR lesson) meant I did not assume the reason for my attendance. I am now convinced that God wants me to start up a CR local to where we live. I hope when the new pastor comes to our church, he will agree. I am praying for God’s guidance, and for the right people to be available and ready when the time comes.
What an adventure I have had these past few days! I feel like I have slain dragons and conquered mountains.
‘Is not this the kind of fasting I have chosen:
to loose the chains of injustice
and untie the cords of the yoke,
to set the oppressed free
and break every yoke?’
Isaiah 58:6 NIVUK