Motivation for Recovery

It is said that we are motivated by the desire to avoid pain (losing our job, marriage, reputation; etc.) and the desire to acquire gain (having peace of mind; hearing our father or wife say, ‘I’m proud of you,’ etc.). So what motivates you to work your battle plan each day?

A daily motivational review is a tool we discuss at Every Man’s Battle. It may include desiring intimacy with God, being tired of lying and covering up, wanting peace of mind, refusing to support something that is ruining human life, etc.

At the risk of pontificating spirituality, I’d like to look at an area of motivation that helps many of us in our recovery process, namely, wanting to know and experience the love of God.

Imagine you are hiking in the mountains and you slip off the edge of a cliff. You grab hold of a bush with your hands, but you’re now dangling over hundreds of feet below. You’re safe for the moment, but you can’t hold on for long. You must have help that is immediate, good, and adequate.

Now suppose help appears. Someone reaches down and says, ‘take my hand and I’ll pull you up. ‘Will you do it? The answer depends on the helper. Suppose it’s someone you deeply offended at one time? He may be strong enough to help, but will he? Or suppose it’s a ten year old Boy Scout with 20 merit badges? You know he will do everything in his power to help, but does he have enough strength? What will persuade you to trust the help offered? You must be convinced of the good will, reliability, and strength of the helper.

All of us are holding on to something or things we think gives meaning and substance to our lives. It may be your sexual behaviors. But sooner or later our hold on those things weakens because they don’t solve our crisis.

So what is offered to us in this life that is good enough, strong enough, and durable enough to hold our lives together for the whole journey? What is it that can motivate us to live the life we really want? What is it that can motivate us in our recovery process?

The Apostle Paul says it is the love of Jesus Christ. In Ephesians 3:16-19 he prays that we be rooted and grounded in that love ‘ like a deeply planted tree or well-founded building that cannot be shaken. And he prays that we will be able to comprehend how wide, long, high and deep this love is ‘ i.e., that we will come to know the love of Christ in such personal ways that it will motivate us to live the life He meant for us to live.

What is this love? Is it some great ideal to which we should aspire? Is it an abstract concept: so high or lofty we can’t possibly ever experience it? Or is it a mood or sentiment?

No, God’s love is concrete and personal. It delivers us, lifts us up, and sustains us. We don’t earn it or stir it up by some goodness or loveableness in us. It comes to us even though we’re  imperfect and sinful. Think of how Jesus treated moral failures. He appointed the Samaritan woman as his first missionary. She went back to her town and told the people about Jesus, and many believed because of her testimony. He defended the sinful woman who anointed him with expensive perfume by saying, ‘wherever the Gospel is preached throughout the world, what she has done will be told in memory of her.’ He restored Peter to leadership after denying him three times. Mary Magdalene, of whom seven demons had been cast out, he honored as the first witness of His resurrection. And the prodigal son was given a welcome home party.

It’s difficult to believe you’re worth anyone’s love, least of all the almighty God’s. Yet, with all the wrongs in your past, the mistakes, the detours, the moments of sin and selfishness, God loves you. No mistake we make in life disqualifies us from God’s love because nothings can separate us from His love.

So lay hold of this staggering, mind-blowing truth that God loves you just as you are, and not as you should be, because none of us is that. And let that motivate you to become the whole, integrated, connected man He created you to be.

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Brad Stenberg

Spelling Love T-I-M-E

Steve Arterburn

If you’re to use your time wisely, you must be considerate of your wife. Not in the sense that she has the final say, but rather, in the sense that you as a husband lead by serving. Return her love, and express yours, by surrendering personal autonomy for marital oneness. That’s your first commitment in marriage. As the old saying goes, wives spell love T-I-M-E.

 

As husbands, we usually don’t spell love this way, so impasses will likely occur. They can be overcome, but as a husband, you can’t make unilateral decisions regarding your time, or you’ll pay a dear price. And although men don’t naturally spell love T-I-M-E, you need to learn to do so if you expect to love your wife and kids properly. It requires a servant’s heart because it requires sacrifice.

 

My friend Fred is a morning person, so by 10:00 p.m. he’s practically ready for life support. Yet with four kids, this is precisely the time he and his wife Brenda are finally alone to talk. Fred knows that Brenda draws interpersonal intimacy from sharing conversation, so he’s made a rule that when he goes into the bedroom at night, he sits in a chair rather than lying on the bed. That way, he can stay awake and talk with Brenda if that’s what she desires.

 

In this small but important way, Fred’s learned to spell love T-I-M-E. It’s an act that honors Brenda’s vital need with the same care as he’d honor his own.

One Attitude Required

Humility doesn’t save a man eternally, but is sure saves him a ton of grief. Humility doesn’t change a man’s circumstances, but it helps him submit to God’s purposes amidst his circumstances. Humility doesn’t speed up answers to prayer, but it accelerates the acceptance of God’s will. Humility doesn’t make decisions for a man, but it inclines his heart toward decisions consistent with God’s plan. Humility doesn’t earn a man more of God’s love, but it helps him experience God’s love at a deeper level.

 

For these reasons Scripture has a great deal to say on the topic of humility:

 

Psalm 25:9 says ‘God guides and teaches the humble.’

Psalm 147:6 says ‘The Lord sustains the humble.’

Proverbs 11:2 says ‘Wisdom belongs to the humble.’

Proverbs 22:4 says ‘True humility and fear of the Lord lead to riches, honor, and long life.’

Isaiah 57:15 says that the Lord personally dwells with and refreshes the humble.

Matthew 23:12 says that the humble with be exalted, and the exalted will be humbled.

And James 4:6 says that God is gracious to the humble.

 

Rewards, sustenance, wisdom, guidance, intimacy, grace, renewal, and revelation’all hinge on an attitude that accompanies our faith. The early-twentieth-century preacher and theologian Oswald Chambers called humility ‘the great characteristic of a saint.’ For all its benefits and blessings, humility is the best way to go for God’s man. In fact, it’s the only way to go.