Running from Recovery



Here is a story that shines a light on one of the reasons many of us wind up in recovery.  Instead of dealing with our problems and facing our demons, we tend to DENY that we have a problem, and turn and RUN AWAY instead of dealing with issues we have.  Running away from our problems always has consequences.  We see an example here in the story of Moses as told by Stephen right before he was stoned to death. 

Moses was instructed in all the wisdom of the Egyptians, and he was mighty in his words and deeds. “When he was forty years old, it came into his heart to visit his brothers, the children of Israel. And seeing one of them being wronged, he defended the oppressed man and avenged him by striking down the Egyptian. He supposed that his brothers would understand that God was giving them salvation by his hand, but they did not understand. And on the following day he appeared to them as they were quarreling and tried to reconcile them, saying, ‘Men, you are brothers. Why do you wrong each other?’ But the man who was wronging his neighbor thrust him aside, saying, ‘Who made you a ruler and a judge over us? Do you want to kill me as you killed the Egyptian yesterday?’ At this retort Moses fled and became an exile in the land of Midian, where he became the father of two sons.  How many things can we relate to here!!  One thing – how many times do we as leaders think we will be understood by people we are trying to help??  Moses thought his people would understand, but instead they lashed out at him  – Who made you a ruler and a judge over us?  Sound familiar?  How often do we offer the hope of salvation, of overcoming addictions, only to be rejected and called “judgmental?”   But just like Jesus with the woman of the well, we know we are to tell the truth in love anyway.  We will not always be accepted. Not everyone who comes through our doors actually wants to do the necessary work to win in recovery.   Everybody wants a resurrection, Very few are willing to go through a crucifixion.  Which brings us to the real point I want to make here – At this retort Moses fled and became an exile in the land of Midian, where he became the father of two sons.  Moses ran away and wound up in Midian.  And where is Midian?   Midian was the wilderness area.  Every time someone runs away in the bible, they wind up in the wilderness.  One example would be Hagar, Sarah’s mistress who bore Abraham a son in her place.  “And Sarai said to Abram, “May the wrong done to me be on you! I gave my servant to your embrace, and when she saw that she had conceived, she looked on me with contempt. May the Lord judge between you and me!” But Abram said to Sarai, “Behold, your servant is in your power; do to her as you please.” Then Sarai dealt harshly with her, and she fled from her. The angel of the Lord found her by a spring of water in the wilderness, the spring on the way to Shur. And he said, “Hagar, servant of Sarai, where have you come from and where are you going?” She said, “I am fleeing from my mistress Sarai.” The angel of the Lord said to her, “Return to your mistress and submit to her.””
Genesis 16:5-9.  So, Hagar runs and lives in the wilderness.   And what does God do??  Sends her back and orders her to submit!!  Or think about Elijah, the great prophet of the Jewish faith – “Then he was afraid, and he arose and ran for his life and came to Beersheba, which belongs to Judah, and left his servant there. But he himself went a day’s journey into the wilderness and came and sat down under a broom tree. And he asked that he might die, saying, “It is enough; now, O Lord, take away my life, for I am no better than my fathers.””1 Kings‬ ‭19:3-4‬ ‭ESV‬‬.  So Jezebel threatens him a day after he called down fire from heaven and wiped out 450 of her prophets, and away he goes…into the wilderness!!  Does God just let him stay there?  “And the Lord said to him, “Go, return on your way to the wilderness of Damascus. And when you arrive, you shall anoint Hazael to be king over Syria. And Jehu the son of Nimshi you shall anoint to be king over Israel, and Elisha the son of Shaphat of Abel-meholah you shall anoint to be prophet in your place.”‭‭1 Kings‬ ‭19:15-16‬ ‭ESV‬‬. And so, directly from God – return yourself back through that wilderness.  And He even told Elijah to anoint his own replacement when he got back!!  That’ll get your attention won’t it??!!  So back to Moses…

“Now when forty years had passed, an angel appeared to him in the wilderness of Mount Sinai, in a flame of fire in a bush. When Moses saw it, he was amazed at the sight, and as he drew near to look, there came the voice of the Lord: ‘I am the God of your fathers, the God of Abraham and of Isaac and of Jacob.’ And Moses trembled and did not dare to look. Then the Lord said to him, ‘Take off the sandals from your feet, for the place where you are standing is holy ground. I have surely seen the affliction of my people who are in Egypt, and have heard their groaning, and I have come down to deliver them. And now come, I will send you to Egypt.’.  So, even after forty long years, God sends Moses back to where he came from, Egypt.  Like I said, God always sends his runners back to where they came from (except for Jonah – and I’m sure he would have preferred a few years in the wilderness!!). This point applies to all of us in recovery,  but especially to those newcomers who come through our doors.  We know they are sent to us by God.  We know God wants them in recovery.  But we also know that sometimes they are not ready to follow through with Gods plan, and will choose their own will instead of Gods.  Just like Moses when he killed the Egyptian and fled, or Elijah fleeing from Jezebel, they don’t want to go through Friday to get to Sunday.   They run from that cross, not knowing they are missing their own resurrection.   This is why the CR Manuals remind us to celebrate our victories.  Many of those who come through our doors will run from God.  They sure aren’t sitting still for us.  But some will.  And we will celebrate their victories as our own personal victories.  Sometimes we can’t change the world, and that is not what we are called to do.  We are proof that our program works.  If you notice how Jesus handled those who weren’t ready to handle his message – he didn’t spend time explaining himself.  He actually began teaching in parables, making it harder for unbelievers to understand. We are not called to convince every soul that comes through our doors of the truth of the power of Jesus Christ.  We are called to be that part of the world changed by Christ, and model His grace and mercy to every soul coming through our doors.
 

 “At this time Moses was born; and he was beautiful in God’s sight. And he was brought up for three months in his father’s house, and when he was exposed, Pharaoh’s daughter adopted him and brought him up as her own son. And Moses was instructed in all the wisdom of the Egyptians, and he was mighty in his words and deeds. “When he was forty years old, it came into his heart to visit his brothers, the children of Israel. And seeing one of them being wronged, he defended the oppressed man and avenged him by striking down the Egyptian. He supposed that his brothers would understand that God was giving them salvation by his hand, but they did not understand. And on the following day he appeared to them as they were quarreling and tried to reconcile them, saying, ‘Men, you are brothers. Why do you wrong each other?’ But the man who was wronging his neighbor thrust him aside, saying, ‘Who made you a ruler and a judge over us? Do you want to kill me as you killed the Egyptian yesterday?’ At this retort Moses fled and became an exile in the land of Midian, where he became the father of two sons. “Now when forty years had passed, an angel appeared to him in the wilderness of Mount Sinai, in a flame of fire in a bush. When Moses saw it, he was amazed at the sight, and as he drew near to look, there came the voice of the Lord: ‘I am the God of your fathers, the God of Abraham and of Isaac and of Jacob.’ And Moses trembled and did not dare to look. Then the Lord said to him, ‘Take off the sandals from your feet, for the place where you are standing is holy ground. I have surely seen the affliction of my people who are in Egypt, and have heard their groaning, and I have come down to deliver them. And now come, I will send you to Egypt.’
Acts 7:20-34 ESV

 

John Lewis
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