The Extraordinary Life
Time would fail me to tell of Gideon, Barak, Samson, Jephthah, of David and Samuel and the prophets— who through faith conquered kingdoms, enforced justice, obtained promises, stopped the mouths of lions, quenched the power of fire, escaped the edge of the sword, were made strong out of weakness, became mighty in war, put foreign armies to flight. Hebrews 11:32-34
As addicts and alcoholics our world contracts into a small, sad existence. We don’t set out to be self-centered, but in our addiction, we become hopelessly focused only on our own needs. As the drug consumes more of our lives, we simply can’t see past our next use. When we wake up in the morning, our first thoughts are not about our families. Rather, we obsessively think about how to obtain and consume our chemicals. We don’t spend time thinking of others because we can’t not think of our own needs. In our addiction, our lives shrink to revolve only around our hunger for the drugs or alcohol. It’s a small sad existence, which, if not arrested, produces only grief, misery, and death.
Recovery then, is the opposite. Recovery means doing whatever it takes to abandon the drug to pursue authentic life. Where we were once enslaved to the pill or the bottle, in recovery, we become free to live beyond our appetite. Recovery means turning, not to our impulsive nature to guide our behavior, but rather, to that which is good and right. In recovery, we expand beyond ourselves, looking to God’s will and to the needs of those around us. We begin to ask things like, How will this decision affect my family? What does God want? As we do this, our existence expands far beyond the sad, small, self-absorbed life of addiction.
This, of course, isn’t just about drugs and alcohol. Most of us are prone to self-absorption. Most of us are tempted to live by seeking the satisfaction our natural appetite. It’s just far more obvious when the alcoholic or addict does it. In today’s passage, the author of Hebrews described the extraordinary life of those who’ve lived by faith. These heroes of old lived far beyond themselves, doing great things, not because it was natural to them, but rather, because they followed God’s will instead of their own.
That’s the life we should all pursue. We should all seek an existence that reaches far beyond ourselves. Do we desire an extraordinary life? Do we hunger for joy, purpose, and meaning? This is about living, not for our impulsive needs, but for the good of others so that we may one day look back on our years with authentic satisfaction, knowing that we’ve lived a full life.