The Struggle to Keep Going in Recovery

Pastor Ed Grant

The decision to make a significant life-style change is important, but not as important as the plan for change and the resolve to continue following the plan when it becomes a grind. The experience of Nehemiah is both insightful and encouraging for all who find themselves stuck in the recovery process.

Under the wise direction of Nehemiah the Israelites had organized a Herculean effort to rebuild the walls of their beloved city. The city wall, which was the primary defense against marauding bands of thieves, had lain in ruins for a generation. For our discussion, the city wall represents self discipline.

As Solomon said,28Like a city whose walls are broken down is a man who lacks self-control.’ (Proverbs 25:28).

Our story begins some time after the reconstruction efforts had begun. Nehemiah lists in detail the various sections of the wall with the names of the families who worked on them. The people worked hard and rejoiced as a new wall arose from the rubble: 6So we rebuilt the wall till all of it reached half its height, for the people worked with all their heart.’ (Nehemiah 4:6).

But suddenly a series of events threatened to frustrate their efforts. Local warlords were unhappy with the project and plotted to attack the city. There was also a serious problem that surfaced among the people: 10Meanwhile, the people in Judah said, “The strength of the laborers is giving out, and there is so much rubble that we cannot rebuild the wall.” (Nehemiah 4:10). So much of the rebuilding effort involved moving and removing the rubble and debris that littered the unprotected city. Unfortunately, the efforts to rebuild our lives resemble Jerusalem, a city knee-deep in rubble. Restoring the walls invariably involves the hard work of organizing and sifting through the rubble. Much of it will actually be used in re-building the walls of self control! Let’s see how Nehemiah helped the people address the threats from without and the struggles within.

1. Acknowledge your fears and your feelings. Don’t minimize or ignore the sense of being overwhelmed or the feelings of futility and hopelessness. The enemy will whisper his potent lies in the privacy of your thoughts. How you address these lies will determine if you will continue to build or give up. Listen to the members of your support group, your family and friends who express concerns about your emotional withdrawal, your anger, or about your return to harmful patterns. They speak with loving concern. However, I encourage you to regard your pre-occupation with the addictive behavior as a cry from your heart for help and refuse accept the debilitating messages of shame and guilt.

2. Take steps to address the threats. Nehemiah organized the people to address the danger posed by those who opposed his efforts. 12Then the Jews who lived near them came and told us ten times over, “Wherever you turn, they will attack us.” 13Therefore I stationed some of the people behind the lowest points of the wall at the exposed places, posting them by families, with their swords, spears and bows.’ (Nehemiah 4:12-13). Review your action plan in light of your current threat. What modifications are needed to ensure success? Do you need to speak with a pastor or a counselor? Do whatever it takes to meet the threat!

3. Don’t think success rests on your own strength. 14After I looked things over, I stood up and said to the nobles, the officials and the rest of the people, “Don’t be afraid of them. Remember the Lord, who is great and awesome,’ (Nehemiah 4:14a). Through the prophet Zechariah God addressed the same situation in this manner: ‘Not by might, nor by power but by my Spirit’ says the Lord Almighty.’ (Zechariah 4:6b). God is awesome and almighty! Through our weakness He allows us to experience His faithfulness and His power. Prayer, worship, fellowship and meditation on God’s handbook for living are invaluable and irreplaceable power boosters for all of us in our times of trial! Remember and resolve to stand on His promise that no temptation will come upon us that we can’t meet with His help.

4. Remember your vision for sobriety and everyone who will benefit by your changes. ‘fight for your brothers, your sons and your daughters, your wives and your homes.” One of Satan’s deadliest lies is that our struggles and efforts don’t matter. God’s purpose for godliness (God-likeness) is that we reflect His character to a lost world, especially those who are closest to us and have been most affected by our actions.

Satan’s invitation to partake in old, destructive habits is powerful, but not as powerful as the One who lives within us and calls us His children. To the world your broken walls might appear as worthless rubble, undeserving of the efforts it will take to change. But God has called your heart ‘holy ground’. No one but Him can imagine the glory your life will reflect by the time He returns to bring you to heaven.

Holy and Healthy Sex in Marriage: Part 4

David Wever

My guess is that many of you have heard this familiar phrase from your wives at some point in your relationship: ‘You just want sex!’ As men this is often times the main goal or mission we have on our minds even if it is with good intentions. The problem is that our lack of communication may leave our wives feeling that our sexual intimacy is more about getting to the goal rather than truly connecting.

One of the most essential, yet often times least developed facets of sexual intimacy, is communication. Romance and arousal are truly built on this necessary dynamic. Communication is the lubricant in a well oiled machine. Often times we learn as men by our culture or otherwise that talking may get us to sex. The problem though with our talking is that it may just be a vehicle to get our ‘goals’ met without truly connecting in the relationship. We may converse in order to get information or direction towards the goal we are trying to accomplish especially if we have hyper-stimulated ourselves to achieve certain goals in sexual intimacy.

I want to offer a different way of communicating for us as men. It is not the manliest way but it may help to establish connection rather than just completing a mission in sexual intimacy.

This proposed way of communicating is chatting. That’s right, I said it. You might be thinking, ‘But Dave, chatting is something guys just don’t do.’ You’re right! But when a person chats, there is often times not a goal or mission to get somewhere in mind. Instead when most people chat they are usually pretty relaxed and talking about their days or their hearts and thoughts. The main point I want you to catch here is that in your romance or arousal towards healthy, Godly sexual intimacy, sex is not the goal. It is truly connecting that needs to be at the forefront.

Sometimes a paradigm shift in the way we approach communication can help us move towards actually letting ourselves be there in heart and mind and then body. The Songs of Solomon are a beautiful picture of a couple moving toward God’s gift of sexual intimacy and then celebrating their oneness. The small but deeply explicit book on romance and intimacy is filled with conversations and chatting about how they feel about one another. Simply, it is filled with communication leading up to eventual physical intimacy.

One set of verses in particular can be found in Song of Songs 1:15-16, How beautiful you are, my darling! Oh, how beautiful! Your eyes are doves. How handsome you are, my lover! Oh, how charming! And our bed is verdant.’ Here the Lover (the husband) and the Beloved (the wife) are exchanging not only feelings about one another but are expressing and conversing about the heart of their relationship that leads to a verdant or lush place of intimacy in their marriage bed. Their chatting, if you will, goes on throughout the entire book. An exchange of not only passion but of true hearts is shared in a back and forth dialogue.

Is the vibrancy or lushness of your marriage bed rooted routinely in how good the physical component of intimacy is? Or is it founded upon the communication leading to connectedness in the heart?

Communication leads to connection. Ultimately, connection allows communion with one another in celebrating God’s oneness in your hearts. Rebecca and I both do not commune in sexual intimacy unless we feel connected. And the way we feel connected is to talk, to chat, to dialogue and express our hearts not just to gear up our loins. You may be thinking, ‘Well what about spontaneous, ‘quickie’ sex? Is that ok even if we don’t communicate?’ Yes. But I would guess if you go back a day or two, you may find that even that spontaneity may be founded upon safe, understanding, heart felt communication. If not you may be cheating yourselves of the most important part of sex: true connectedness and intimacy from the heart.

Next time you and your wife are feeling aroused, give chatting a try as it leads to further physical intimacy. Ask yourself before the fires of desire are fanned, have I communicated or talked about my day with her? As you rebuild and restore your heart around sexual intimacy ask yourself: Am I communicating? Is the communication we are having leading to connection? And when we commune in physical sexual intimacy do I feel and stay connected emotionally and spiritually?

Remember, your communication is an essential building block to connection and safeness to allow desire to blossom. It is also a building block to physical foreplay in sexual intimacy. We will look further at Holy and Healthy physical foreplay next time in this series.

For more help, join one of our couples groups at our next New Life Weekend.

Thoughts on Weariness in Recovery

G. Mike Clark

This last week my wife and I, along with our Bible Study class of forty-three, including children and adolescents, went to the Appalachian Mountains in eastern Kentucky on a mission trip to Solomon’s Porch. This little community of Lynch was once a thriving mining town. If you were to ask the people of Lynch about the recovery of this town they would say, ‘Recovery of what?’ If you are talking about the coalmines and the boom related to that growth, the answer would more than likely be, ‘No’there is no chance of recovery like it once was during the boom time.’

US Steel and International Harvester, as I understand, moved out of the area and closed the mines within the last ten to twelve years. On the other hand, maybe the recovery of this community could be done through drawing small businesses there to strengthen the economy. They have drawn some small businesses into the area, but this alone is not going to recover this small community of Kentucky economically.

Many of those living in the Appalachians are weary.

Webster, 2nd edition, defines weary as without further liking, patience, tolerance, and bored, becoming wearing. Interestingly it also includes in its definition the word drunk. If you were to ask most of those living in this part of the country if they were weary, any of those descriptions would be heard. Many of them have lost any sense of hope in the recovery of their community and have become weary.

In Proverbs 23:4-5, the writer tells us, ‘Do not weary yourself to gain wealth, cease from your consideration of it. When you set your eyes on it, it is gone. For wealth certainly makes itself wings, like an eagle that flies toward the heavens‘, (NASV).

The kind of recovery needed in this community is spiritual renewal. We are in a spiritual battle. Without spiritual recovery, no amount of economic recovery will make a difference in this community; or any community, or person.

Up to this point, we have been speaking about a small community recovering economically and a sense of weariness that members of that community may have experienced in the past and still experience today. These same kind of issues are experienced in each of us who are in the recovery of sexual addiction, i.e. without further liking, patience, tolerance, and bored, becoming wearing. In addition, one can experience loneliness in the process of recovery whether in a small community or facing sexual addiction.

Loneliness can be crippling to anyone of us in our daily life even during the process of recovery.

As we face any addiction, each of us will experience weariness and loneliness. Isaiah, in chapter 40 verse 31, gives us hope during our pilgrimage. ‘Yet those who wait for the Lord will gain strength; they will mount up with wings like eagles, they will run and not get tired, they will walk and not become weary.’ Here he gives us hope, strength and endurance to run this race. He goes to say, in chapter 50 verses 4-5, ‘The Lord God has given Me the tongue of disciples. That I may know how to sustain the weary one with a word.’ He goes on to say that, God wakes him in the morning; He awakens his ears ‘to listen as a disciple,’ and he was not disobedient, verses 4-5.

There are many references to the word all throughout the Scripture. In the Gospels, Jesus makes references about the word, Matthew 4:4; 7:24; Mark 4:14, 18; Luke 1:2. In John 8:32, Jesus says that truth will set you free.

Two important principles found in Isaiah: listening and obedience. First, are we listening to the truth found in God’s Word? As we listen, how is God’s Word changing our lives and transforming us from the inside out? Listening to God is not just sitting in our comfortable chair. It includes asking God, ‘What are You doing around me and how can I join you?’ Second, are we obedient as we listen to God’s Word? Do we have a teachable heart with listening ears? In the process of recovery, this requires us to look beyond ourselves. If we look only within ourselves, there is not much hope. Through God’s grace working in and through us touching and ministering to others gives us hope and purpose.

As we look to God, we need to reach out to others for help and to help. In recovery, this is where having an accountability partner gives us hope and strength during the good times and the tough times. As brothers in Christ, our mission is to give each other support and encouragement to the other person needing help when weary. We are not alone in this battle, and it takes time to recover. Lastly, Jesus gives us a promise in Matthew 11:28-30, to hang onto daily. It reads as follows…

Come to me, all who labor and are heavy laden, and I will give you rest. Take my yoke upon you, and learn from me, for I am gentle and lowly in heart, and you will find rest for your souls. For my yoke is easy, and my burden is light‘, ESV.

This is God’s promise to you and me in the process of recovery during our pilgrimage, and strength to the weary. He will not leave us alone to face life.

For more help see Every Man’s Battle.
Also, please see Being Christian: Exploring Where You, God, and Life Connect.