When I awaken it is dark and when I return home from work it is dark. The brisk cold and gloomy days of winter and early spring can quietly push me indoors where I can hide beneath a blanket and pets, with a hot drink and too much television or screen time.
I can isolate and learn to savor it. I can let phone calls roll into voicemail and texts or emails go unanswered. I can withdraw or distance myself from family, friends, activities and even news about the world at large. As the moments turn into weekends, I can run away from my true self and my ties and responsibilities with life and the living, and escape into a self-imposed prison of dark, empty silence and wasted time.
As an addict in recovery, this is a dangerous direction for me to travel in; it is the “slippery slope” that I can “harmlessly” saunter down. It is the quiet letting-go of the Father’s hand, along with a cold-shoulder to His Spirit’s loving and dependable 24-hour presence within me. Good company for the devil’s handiwork can then become the addictive substances and behaviors I once used to ease my fears and shame or numb my anxiety and low self-esteem.
Three years ago, one late winter night when I could not sleep, when I had already surrendered my addictive behaviors and substance abuse to the Lord and I was experiencing daily abstinence and sobriety, I was still often hiding in my self-imposed dark, silent prison. This time, instead of ignoring the Lord or becoming angry and defiant at Him, I knelt and talked with Him through my anguish and tears. “I thought you loved me!” I said, shaking my fist. “I thought this road of recovery would bring me love, strength and security!” I felt none of those things within myself. In fact, I felt lonely, unloved, less than, and fearful.
I can still hear the clear male voice in my head that shared these four statements:
* YOU ARE LOVED.
* YOU ARE PROTECTED.
* YOU ARE NEVER ALONE.
* YOU HAVE PURPOSE.
I immediately felt comfort and relief and soon fell asleep. These statements were not things I would have said to myself. I believe that this was “conscious contact” with God’s Spirit within and this was His voice, not mine.
Today, when I feel “less than” or unloved, I hear the statement, YOU ARE LOVED. If I am hesitant or fearful I dwell on the statement, YOU ARE PROTECTED. When I feel lonely, I repeat the statement, YOU ARE NEVER ALONE. If I am lazy or lack direction I hear His voice saying, YOU HAVE PURPOSE.
These statements have become my affirmations and beliefs and they shape me inside like the hands of the potter shaping clay. They announced my intimate relationship with Jesus Christ by convincing me of His truths for me: I AM loved! I AM protected! I am NEVER alone! I HAVE purpose!
I share these along with Scripture that supports them; perhaps these statements can turn into beliefs in your own life too, if you are prone to escaping into a self-imposed prison of dark, empty silence and wasted time. I believe there is no such place within me unless I choose to deny His presence. For even when I travel to this place now, I fully believe He greets me there with open arms; this is indeed the place where His Spirit resides.
“I have been crucified with Christ. It is no longer I who live, but Christ who lives in me. And the life I now live in the flesh I live by faith in the Son of God, who loved me and gave himself for me.” Galatians 2:20
“But the Lord is faithful. He will establish you and guard you against the evil one.”2 Thessalonians 3:3
“Be strong and courageous. Do not fear or be in dread of them, for it is the Lord your God who goes with you. He will not leave you or forsake you.” Deuteronomy 31:6
“And we know that for those who love God all things work together for good, for those who are called according to his purpose.”Romans 8:28