Going to Treatment
And now, behold, I am going to Jerusalem, constrained by the Spirit, not knowing what will happen to me there . . . Acts 20:22
When I had to leave my job in the ER due to my drug addiction, I had to go to inpatient treatment if I wanted my career back. With my entire life crumbling around me, I spent a lot of time praying. In the beginning, I mostly prayed that God would get me out of that mess and put my life back together. Up to that point in life, I’d lived as though faith meant that I asked God for the things I wanted and then believed really hard that he would do them.
At the time, those closest to me suggested that I go to Minnesota Adult and Teen Challenge, which was a Christian program in an urban center, not known for its comfort. I honestly wasn’t that interested in treatment though. I just wanted the easiest route back to my normal life. So, I searched and found the shortest program I could find, planning to go there instead. I continued praying that God would just get me out of my mess.
As it turned out, faith wasn’t asking God to do my will and then believing really hard that he’d do it. Faith was turning from my plan and following his, no matter how scary or unknown that may be. In the end, I went to that uncomfortable, inner-city treatment center and found recovery.
This is the lesson of today’s passage. In the story, Paul felt called by God to return to Jerusalem, where he knew that he would face hostility and opposition. Paul didn’t seek ease or comfort. He sought God’s will. He didn’t know that everything was going to work out for his own interest. In fact, he knew that he’d likely face significant discomfort. He went anyway. To Paul, faith meant doing God’s will, not knowing the outcome.
It’s not wrong to take our requests to God. It wasn’t evil of me to want my life back. Faith though, isn’t believing really hard that God will do what we want. Faith is asking God what he wants us to do, and then doing it, no matter what the outcome may be. Our way leads to misery. It’s only in truly living by faith that we find the joy, life, and peace that comes from following God instead of ourselves.