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Celebrate Recovery

Looking Beyond the Horizon of Sorrow

Looking Beyond the Horizon of Sorrow

By Gordon

I’m a believer in Jesus Christ who struggles with independence and pride. My name is Gordon.

In the state of consciousness that comes just after waking from a fitful slumber, that’s when I reach out in hopes to physically connect with my wife in some way. Just to touch her arm as I had done for 44 years.

But as all lives eventually end, hers has come to a close, at least here in this realm. Until all things are made new by the One who restores all things broken, I will never see her, touch her, or hear her voice.

Early-onset Alzheimer’s disease began its filthy work by robbing her of memories and words—nouns and names. This malevolent thief did not relent until there was nothing left of who she was. And then it took her last breath away.

I’ve often wondered, “Was I angry with God about this profound loss? Am I still angry?”

What I will tell you is this—in the quiet times, in the darkness of the night when all I could see was a faint glimmer of light from the street lamp, when all I could hear was an occasional soulful voice from a lonely train, I questioned the goodness of her God, of the Higher Power that she had loved with everything in her.

“Why? Of all people, God, why would you allow this to happen to someone who adores you with such passion?”

And do you want to know his answer?

I heard nothing! Silence! Not a single word for months and years.

Temptation? Oh, yeah—it was ever present. “Give up, Gordon! Relent! Throw in the towel!” That wicked and criminal voice compelled me to abandon the unreasonable faith I had in my Creator.

Yet I could not cast off the thought that my faith was far from unreasonable. And even though the voice of evil was a consistent and thunderous roar in my ears, it was the quiet and still voice that obligated me to look beyond the horizon of my sorrow.

It was the voice from Genesis that spoke and immediately two trillion galaxies sprang into being. It was the voice that commanded millions of living species to appear from nothing.  But it was also the voice of my Lord pleading with Abba to find a way for him to avoid the suffering of the cross. And it was the voice that finally gave in and said, “Nevertheless, not my will, but yours, be done” (Luke 22:42 ESV).

In the midst of all of this emotional and spiritual warfare, my son suggested I write a blog about the journey Jan and I were on. “Who knows, Dad, how many people you may help?” And toward the end of her life, when the time for meaningful relationship with her had long passed, when those old thoughts of the futility of it all had begun to reappear, that’s when it became clear to me.

“Why won’t God take her home? I wouldn’t allow a dog to suffer like this,” I said to my other son as she lay dying.

His answer stunned me! No, more than that, it pierced my heart and brought shame over me in an unfamiliar way.

“Dad, do you know how many people have praised God because of the testimony of your blog? Do you know how many people witness our family still praising God in the midst of this storm and are encouraged to raise their own hands up in praise? God didn’t put you here in this place and at this time for your comfort. He allowed you and our family to travel this road so that others would have the courage to also glorify the name of God.”

In an instant, Scripture began to flash before me. Bible verses like “Your attitude should be the same as that of Christ Jesus” (Philippians 2:5 NIV) and passages in which Paul tells about how Jesus, the Creator of the universe, emptied himself and became a servant of his creation. God came in human flesh and became my servant . . . MY servant—the Son of God serving me? And the Holy Spirit commands me to be like Christ in this one specific area more than any other.

I began to understand that recovery isn’t about recovery. No, recovery is about the abandonment of what put me in danger in the first place. The reason I need recovery—the reason you need it, too—is because my focus was on me, on my suffering, on my deep desire to avoid the very pain that would ultimately oblige me to bow before God, admit that I was and am a complete moral failure, and to plead fervently with God for him to pour out his mercy and grace on me in abundance.

In other words, recovery isn’t the prize—Jesus is the prize!

So my wife’s suffering, even though it was intense, wound up being the very thing that opened my eyes to the cold, hard fact that I had been out of options for most of my life. It taught me that only by bowing before God and begging him to change my focus from me to him and to the people he came to save would I ever find true fulfillment. My strategies were failing me and God.

I don’t pray for recovery anymore—at least not in the sense that I simply want sobriety. I pray that God will work in my heart to bring about my recovery from selfishness and self-focus to becoming like Christ by living a Spirit-led life of service to the brokenhearted. That I would be led to HIM!

“I have a disease, Father, and that disease is me. I cannot recover unless you work in me to bring it about. Teach me to serve.”

“Just as the Son of Man did not come to be served, but to serve, and to give his life as a ransom for many” (Matthew 20:28 NIV).

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