Young man, I say to you, arise. Luke 7:14
Every morning as I stumble through the darkness, on my way to the coffee maker, I begin my prayer this way: God, thank you for another day of a new life. Thank you for dragging me out of the living death of my addiction. Thank you for loving me enough to allow the painful consequences that brought me to recovery. Thank you for my rebirth.
This, after all, is what Jesus does. As he died and returned to life, so we too may be reborn into a new life. Today’s passage tells the story of one such literal resurrection that reveals Jesus’ pattern of redemption. In the story, Christ encountered a widow on her way to bury her son. Having compassion, Jesus approached the funeral bier and spoke. Young man, I say to you, arise.
The man, reborn from death, began the first day of his new life. The passage doesn’t say it, but I imagine that he and his mother expressed immense gratitude. The only proper response at that point, would have been to commit to following Christ, doing whatever he asked. Every breath that young man took from that point on, belonged to Jesus. I also imagine though, that as the days of his new life turned to weeks and months, the natural thing would have been to revert to the old existence as if nothing had every happened. As time passed, I expect life may have simply returned to normal.
This is why I start my daily prayer the way I do. Five years of recovery means that it’s tempting to forget the living death of my addiction. As the new life begins to feel normal, the misery of the old life fades into memory. It’s my nature to grow complacent. So, daily, I remember what God has done for me and I remind myself of the only proper response: God, as you have saved me from myself, may I daily do whatever it takes to continue to abandon the old life and follow you. As I follow, fill me with you, transforming me, making me into what you want me to be.
It’s easy to think of the rebirth as something that happened once, long ago. With addiction though, going back is always an option. As God gave me this new life, my only proper response is to daily choose to live in it.