The ARM of St. Michael
Have we been through it all? And the object of our hope does not yet appear? Addiction or compulsion are not yet eradicated? What can we do today? How long O Lord?! Keep praying! Keep hoping. Keep forgiving.
Recovery is a triumph of confidence in God over despair. We need each other in fellowship, every sculler in the skiff of perseverance. In the Church, we move as a family, as a team. We lift each other up, keep each other going, reach out with prayer and encouragement.
Always we can ask for final patience: to never tire of trusting in God’s mercy, His divine plan. If something has happened, it was His will, if it hasn’t yet happened, it was not or is not yet His will. Simple. To obtain final patience is the eternal prayer of the addict and compulsive. Its fruit means, I will let life go on, even unto perplexing passages of apparent irresolution.
A modern, imperfect synonym to the ancient name faith is the word positivity. Asking for positivity, is to ask to be able to trust that purpose unfolds in every trial and tribulation and temptation; that God is in control of all. God is not careless, but works with high craftsmanship, nor more acutely than in trial and darkness.
The opposite, is to be glued to the rearview mirror, obsessed with the persistence of the ‘same old thing’, whining as bad thief, rather than see how God is subtly, constantly shaving away more of our defect with every orbit. In positivity, is the will to see the good, the coming of freedom, the incremental gaining - even sometimes in the midst of a lost battle. Positivity is faith saying, yes things might seem briefly regressive even immovable, but hope in God will not disappoint.
Why so long? Perhaps, being mere creatures, it is all for an end that is beyond our powers to estimate and appreciate, for a greater glory, impossible to gather at one glance. Mustard seed faith lovingly supposes that what may seem remote and small at beginning, will manifest plainly and prodigiously, in good time. Wait on the Lord then!~~
Can a recovering compulsive grow pumpkins? In May, as the planted seeds began to sprout from the humus in an egg carton, a sense of wonder came and.. instant parenthood! Care of pumpkin plants! Give them all they need?
Four of the seedlings, grown to about six inches, went to a brother who had plenty of room in a rural spot. By June, six of the eight remaining were planted about the narrow suburban yard. By grace, I remembered to water them! They grew as tiny vines, now a foot high. They asked for trellises, somewhere to go. New thoughts came about the farmer’s ancient planning.
In another week the plants were rapidly climbing the cedar scaffolds as roots took hold and leaves multiplied, and soon reached beyond, stretching left and right, later helped with a network of garden stakes, woven with twine stringers reaching many feet. They followed the cords and their little “fingers” let unfurl tendrils grabbing hold. Up they grew with bigger and more numerous spade-shaped leaves. Then days when the leaves would wilt under the solstice sun, as though dying. Do water the thirsty vines enough!
At the beginning of summer came a few beautiful showy flowers, then bees, but no sign of pumpkins. Near to July, many blossoms appeared, before a new kind came. It was a stem with a tiny green berry with a pointed ‘hat' of a flower bud sitting on top: a minute pumpkin! Ah.
More mystery; an abundance of male flowers attracts pollinators, preceding a shy minority of female buds who receive the fecundation dust. The yellow blossoms opened for less than a day and then withered forever. There were so many. As earlier ones waned others were already filling in, pollen ever on line. But the female fruits were turning yellow and then brown, the fruit flowers only dying. Nothing.
More reading and patience: a female flower would eventually open for just a few hours, to receive the male pollen the same day. But there were only a scant number of females. Would there be more? It was now mid July.. Fertilizer could give the plant nutrition that would encourage growth. And so it was. By August there were suddenly as many as three female fruit flowers per vine. Hmm, fertilizer!
The vines meanwhile were tens of feet long, ever twisting to receive the sun, with bevies of flowers. Then, though never seen, one day the accident of a bumble bee visiting first a male flower and then an open, ready female, in that order, finally happened. The hard green pea under the blossom swelled rapidly in less than a day turning to a new color. In the wake of the mysterious collusion of flowers and bees, fertilizer and water, sun and time, the small pumpkin grew with astonishing speed and power. How does He do it?!
Yet the variety of false starts and failed fruits were so numerous that by the end of September there was only one lone pumpkin growing to maturity on each of four fruiting vines. Two vines showed only male flowers. With all that was seen and all that had failed to reach the miracle of fruition, it is humbling to acknowledge the seeming futility of the vines to produce much at all. Yet, after many attempts, many failures, many near misses, they indeed produced a pumpkin. Holding a rich bank of new seed, out of many, one is enough.
Despite the noblest intentions to rush or shortcut, in nature the only way forth is patient toil. Being addicts and compulsives, long suffering in recovery, what other human struggle can teach this deepest kind of patience and humility? God grant us patience in the suffering of recovery.
Magnificence, splendor, grandeur, majesty, nobility, royalty: this is Glory, beyond pale, beyond calculation, beyond estimation. Addicts and compulsives are little; the glory of recovery is big, big as the Kingdom is big. The finish line of our healing is so big, we can’t seem to know when we will have actually crossed it. But we stay in the quest. Grace will have it no other way.
Faith: ‘positivity’, trust.
Hope: terminal patience.
Love: toil without sight of the prize.
If all were only a large black-dark room, we wouldn’t need a bay window to be converted to the greater world beyond. A pinhole would be enough.
God in Heaven, Maker and Remaker of all, give us to endure to the new wineskin, and a new heart. Let Your mercy be upon us O God, for You are all we have, and nothing is impossible for You. We beg in Jesus’ name with faith. Amen.