Making Amends – Steps 8 and 9

Recovery is a lifelong process.  It isn’t a one-trick pony.  It isn’t a one-time-and-you’re-done thing either.  It is a process that you use on a weekly, if not daily basis.  I often forget this fact.  I’m just being honest.  The twelve steps are cyclical, and you’ll go through them at various stages of your recovery process.  I think we’ll do this till the Lord calls us home.  Though I am not the biggest fan of social media, I can appreciate it for how it ignites deeper thought even when I’m not trying to.

I am a rather reflective and introspective person.  I suppose I always have been.  I like to mull around ideas in my mind before I take action.  I like to ponder, contemplate, and pontificate – yes they all mean the same thing, but each of those words conjures up a different image of reflective thought.  But, I digress.  The point here is that as I reflect upon my teaching career, I am seeing it through the lens of recovery.  It’s quite a different view.  I am grateful to a big God who doesn’t give us more than we can handle, because I think this would have been very overwhelming for me last year when I started my recovery process.  It has been in quiet moments or in moments of thoughtless social media interactions that the Holy Spirit has brought up other issues for me to walk through.  I desire complete freedom in Christ, and many times that means looking to see where I have unforgiveness, seeing where it comes from, and dealing with it.  God’s word is replete with teachings on forgiveness.  It is just as much about us as it is about the person we are choosing not to forgive.  Consider Matthew when he wrote, “For if you forgive men when they sin against you, your heavenly Father will also forgive you.  But if you do not forgive men their sins, your Father will not forgive your sins” (Matt. 6:14-15).  I cannot expect to prosper in my spirit and in my life if I cannot forgive, nor can I hear well from God when I do not forgive.  It is like a wall of separation goes up between He and I.  It’s not a good feeling.  I am remind of Mark 11:25, “And when you stand praying, if you hold anything against anyone, forgive him, so that your Father in heaven may forgive you your sins.”  How can God hear my prayer if I hang on to the ugliness of bitterness and unforgiveness?  I can’t.  It doesn’t work to seek freedom but old on to old wounds.

When I confess my part – the wrong doing, God can cleanse me and set me straight.  That His promise in 1 John 1:9, “If we confess our sins, he is faithful and just and will forgive us our sins and purify us from all unrighteousness.” And again in Isaiah 43:25-25, “I, even I, am he who blots out your transgressions, for my own sake, and remembers your sins no more.  Review the past for me, let us argue the matter together; state the case for your innocence.”  You see.  God is all about reconciliation and restoration.  He does in us what we cannot do for ourselves when we “come clean.”  Confession and forgiveness draw us back into right relationship with God and with our fellow human beings.  I like that.

There is freedom just on the other side of confession and forgiveness.  When I own my part and clean my side of the street, I become free.  That bitter root of unforgiveness no longer has a claim on my life, my hope, or my future.  It’s curse is broken.  And this is made so because of Jesus.  Recall this verse from 2 Corinthians 5:17, “Therefore, if anyone is in Christ, he is a new creation; the old has gone, the new has come!”  And more in Acts 3:19, “Repent, then, and turn to God, so that your sins may be wiped out, that times of refreshing may come from the Lord…”  God is more than faithful when His children follow his commands – He doesn’t give us a list of legalistic rules to follow just to make us miserable.  His commands lead to freedom and abundant life.  These are lessons I continue to learn as I grow older.

So today, I take the opportunity to follow the unction of the Holy Spirit.  No amends are ever perfect and do not have to be, but I know that God knows the intent of the heart.  I encourage you today to take the first step toward freedom and recovery.  Believe and Accept Jesus Christ as Lord and Savior.  Get involved in a local church.  Get involved with a small group.  Stay accountable.  Make things right between you and God and between those with whom you have relationships.  You won’t be disappointed, and you’ll find new freedom in Christ.

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