Wednesday, December 9, 2009

Paradoxes of Crippling Loss and Bliss-filled Joy

“We beg of you to be fearless and thorough from the very start. Some of us have tried to hold on to our old ideas, and the result was nil—until we let go absolutely.”

—Alcoholics Anonymous, p. 58.

Some exist in a polar world—I know, for I’m one like this. All or nothing seems to be the way; middle-ground is a hard achievement. But this, for me, is the greatest thing for there is power in powerlessness; a hope beyond reason—strength where there should otherwise be embarrassment. It’s the topic of godly paradox; a holy conundrum only God could solve.

I think I must have learned the most I ever have in my eleven months in the rooms of AA. Recovering more from a marriage breakdown than from horrendous alcoholism I’ll still not touch a drink. I’ve never ever missed it and don’t think I ever will. And a promise I made my mother on the 8th of October, 2003, I’ll never break.

But, what I learned in those rooms was not so much information for the alcohol-infirmed; it was the advice and group-help for living—real living I mean; a legacy for life—honest-to-the-core living that I’d never really known—that made the real difference, and the tolerance that could only truly come from, what I now know, Jesus. (And some people say Christians are “judgmental.”)

The nudge in life over that chasm of despair into the gaping abyss below, the crippling loss, is the greatest paradox known to humankind—from death to life; finally—yet so unexpected! Rhetorically, why does it take such dire straits to engender the desperate reach for God, allowing him finally to love us? It’s a mystery to me, one I’m utterly thankful for.

There is a kind of heaven in the knowledge that you can’t have something—that one thing in this world is untouchably off-limits. When most would claw at the vestiges of their past, never truly wanting to accept the giving up of that thing that held them, it is Jesus that stands between—Jesus, the Answer. Jesus, alone, sets the person free. His miracles are as fresh tomorrow as they were nearly 2,000 years ago when he, God who became flesh, graced the earth. Amazingly, he creates a bliss-filled joy out of an otherwise void.

It is to his glory alone that we could be so convicted—beyond our own sympathetically, pitiful, pathetic selves. For when he’d revealed himself to us, and we believed and sought his forgiveness and then promised our allegiance... he released from us the burdens of the most powerful sins... and suddenly we were free. Yes, for real!

“Very truly I tell you, everyone who sins is a slave to sin. Now a slave has no permanent place in the family, but a son belongs to it forever. So if the Son sets you free, you will be free indeed.”

—John 8:34b-36 (TNIV).

And this is what we see in those who truly know Jesus. They are free indeed. Now, does this Jesus:

è Work on a situational basis?

è Work with criminals?

è Forgive everyone who earnestly seeks him?

è Cleanse us of all unrighteousness according to the moment and for eternity?

è Help us live tolerantly?

è Want us to surrender all our hopeless troubles to him?

è Sanctify us one-day-at-a-time for the rest of our lives?

è Wish for us to live in harmony with all others?

è Give us true freedom from that which enslaves us?


We should relate; all of these above apply to each one of us. He’s the only One.

© 2009 S. J. Wickham.

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