Hope for Freedom

by
Lisa

A few years ago, I sat down with a man named Glen. At that time, Glen felt God calling him to serve—specifically, to serve men somehow. Over a few decades at Willow, Glen had been involved with quite a few serving roles and quite a few small-group experiences. Now, many years into his journey as a Christ follower, Glen felt something stirring inside of him. He didn’t know what, exactly, he was being called to; he wasn’t sure of his next step. So we talked through some possibilities.

Then, everything both stopped and began.

You see, Glen recognized that God was calling him to something brand new and really big—something that didn’t involve serving others (just yet) but that, instead, involved healing for himself so that he could better honor God and better serve others.

Last Sunday, in Cultivate Love, Steve Carter taught out of Galatians 5, saying:

You, my brothers and sisters, we’re called to be free. But do not use your freedom to indulge the flesh; rather, serve one another humbly in love. For the entire law—which is the first five books of the Bible—is fulfilled in keeping this one command: ‘Love your neighbor as yourself.’ If you bite and devour each other, watch out or you will be destroyed by each other. So I say, walk by the Spirit, and you will not gratify the desires of the flesh. For the flesh desires what is contrary to the Spirit, and the Spirit what is contrary to the flesh. They are in conflict with each other, so that you are not to do whatever you want. But if you are led by the Spirit, you are not under the law. The acts of the flesh are obvious: sexual immorality, impurity and debauchery; idolatry and witchcraft; hatred, discord, jealousy, fits of rage, selfish ambition, dissensions, factions and envy; drunkenness, orgies,—that’s in the Bible—and the like. I warn you, as I did before, that those who live like this will not inherit the kingdom of God. But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness and self-control. Against such things there is no law. Those who belong to Christ Jesus have crucified the flesh with its passions and desires. Since we live by the Spirit, let us keep in step with the Spirit. Let us not become conceited, provoking and envying each other.

To make a long story shorter, Glen realized that, though he believed in Christ, he wasn’t living by the Spirit; instead, he was living by his own will and ways and living out deeply ingrained patterns that he’d learned from “the culture” not from Christ. (As Paul, and then Steve Carter, said: “You gotta understand that, every day, you and I are in internal conflict. There is this battle going on within us. You got the flesh, the human nature. There’s all of these choices—selfish ambition, envy, factions, impurity. And it’s at odds with the fruit of the Spirit—with the Spirit having control of our lives so that we can live like Christ did here on this earth. There is this tension and this battle.”) Glen was tired of living in the tension and of avoiding the battle. And so his recovery journey, the battle of his lifetime, began. Two years in, and Glen is a different man—a man living by the Spirit and helping others do the same.

Today, Glen is one of our RECOVER leaders. He serves weekly, walking alongside men, pointing them to hope, to Christ, and to a whole new way of living.

People hear “RECOVER” and they think of drugs or alcohol. RECOVER does offer hope for freedom from those things. It also, however, offers hope for freedom from all of the things—all of the things that we do every day that keep us living at odds with the fruit of the Spirit. The fact is that what is inside of us comes out of us. We all have a lot to UN-learn, a lot that has to happen inside of us to get us from here (our way) to there (God’s way). We all have been cultivated by the world. Our lives are meant to be a process of surrendering more and more to Christ’s cultivation. I love how Steve Carter said, We are people of the Spirit. And the Spirit is at work in us, transforming us more and more and more into Christlikeness.” We are people of the Spirit. And there are things that block the Spirit. RECOVER helps to remove the blocks. RECOVER helps to make room for the Spirit to really move.

Glen’s struggle was not with drugs or alcohol. But his struggle was real. Some people at RECOVER struggle with a substance. Other common issues include: anger, control, people pleasing, relational fractures, codependency, setting healthy boundaries, an inability to forgive, food issues, feelings of anxiety, rejection, or betrayal, finding your voice, gaming, gambling, pornography, social media addictions, and more. What do all of these issues have in common? They block the Holy Spirit; they keep us from loving one another well; they hold us back. If you are open to finding a new way—God’s way—you’ll find growth, healing, and help at RECOVER.   

(Questions about RECOVER? Contact Lisa.)