Hope Is Born:
Celebrating His Birthday — and Mine
By Jim Robinson
CBN.com -- Thanksgiving.
Christmas. New Year’s. The holiday season is here! And soon,
for me, there will be one more reason to celebrate and give thanks.
My “birthday” is approaching.
On January 2nd, 2005, I will celebrate the day I got sober. This
was in many ways the most important day of my life, at least as
far as my new life is concerned. I remember little about it, actually.
I had been a fifth-and-a-half a day alcoholic and drug addict
for a number of years, and during that time had managed to destroy
nearly everything around me. I had no job, no car, and no place
of my own to live. My existence had become one of darkness and
fear and shame, and I was so toxic in body and spirit that I can
now recall few details about that cold day I discovered a place
of hope and healing.
In my memoir entitled Prodigal Song, I did my best to describe
the bondage of addiction:
I had tried to stop. The only thing more terrifying than intentionally
trying to kill yourself with drink and drugs is that hopeless,
helpless moment when you come face to face with the true demon
of addiction, that fear-frozen instant of realization when after
an endless stream of days and nights you cry out to the useless
gods surrounding you and beg them to help you quit, but still
you can’t. This is a road not on any map of the non-addicted
mind, a land of fear and panic and the utter hopelessness of life
without faith. This is where we live, lifelessly—embracing
the unique misery that comes from the overpowering compulsion
to continue the torture, even as the sound of our own screams
for mercy bounce off the walls and ring down the hall.
And so, having been so lost in this emptiness, I am for the
most part at a loss as to this miracle of my recovery. I know
that one night I encountered an Old Friend, one from whom I had
been running most of my adult life. He found me, and killed the
death within me, and planted in my destitute heart a new beginning…a
new hope. Again, from Prodigal Song:
And on this night, in the unfurnished back bedroom of someone’s
house, lying on an old mattress on the floor surrounded by unpacked
boxes, something changed…I felt myself being crushed. The
truth of death slammed into me like a train, and I burst into
wrenching, agonizing sobs, as if my soul were being torn from
my chest, as if there was blood in my tears. On my knees, curled
over the mattress like a broken bird, my face pressed into the
sheets by a weight threatening to smother me, the futility and
longing and utter despair of my life weighing down on me until
the breath was forced from my body…and the tears began pouring
out of me like rain…until whatever had been haunting me
came rushing out with a shudder and a gasp and helpless hollow
howling, and then died…and though it seemed to me that many
lifetimes had passed since I last called out His name, I suddenly
realized…He had not changed…lying there in the afterglow
of resurrection, I knew that in His eyes I was again a little
boy, once more a child. His child.
I was crazy, and I was still very sick in body and spirit. But
something had happened that night, and I would never be the same.
God only knows how it came to be. And I don’t know how many
blurred days passed before that cold and rainy afternoon when
I somehow found my way to the downtown mission, to a meeting in
the basement of an old stone church. I don’t remember much
about that first visit, or even exactly how I got there. But one
moment will remain in my mind as long as I live—my hands
shaking badly as I tried to pour a cup of coffee, the stuff spilling
all over the table, and a withered hand reaching in to gently
steady the cup and pour it full. And I remember those eyes, the
eyes of this seventy-three year old woman, and I saw peace in
“Looks like you could use some help,” she said.
And so, the healing began. There was much hard work ahead for
me, of course. But should God grant me the gift, I will have been
clean and sober for sixteen years on January 2, 2005. Pausing
here at this time of Christmas, New Year’s, and my “sobriety
birthday,” I can’t help wondering how all this came
to be—a new career, a family, a sense of belonging and wholeness.
Why me? Why not so many others, those hurting souls I work with
in my counseling office, or sing to in churches, or visit and
teach in treatment facilities and prisons? There is much mystery
in it all. But within the mystery hovers a hope that is stronger
than our fear, a Love that runs deeper than our wounds.
As we approach the day when Christians everywhere rejoice at the
Savior’s birth, I can look back at my own life and rejoice
for my rebirth…the old life made new in Christ. And so,
ultimately, I simply pause to give thanks to the loving Christ
who chose, for His reasons, to reach out to this prodigal and
draw him back Home.
This is a special time of year. Despite the commercialization
of the holiday season, we as Christians can know the true meaning,
and overcome the world by embracing the living Savior. This is,
for us, a time of unspeakable joy.
For others, though, this season can amplify the loneliness…even
as we stand in a room full of people. Addiction is a disease of
shame, loss, fear…but most of all loneliness. But we are
not alone. Christ is born. Hope is alive.
I am thankful indeed. Because I know healing can come, not only
for me, but also for others. We call His name, and He comes. Certainly
there is hard work ahead for every recovering person (and recovery
is about a lot more than just substance abuse). But ours is a
God who gladly joins us on our knees each morning, and walks with
us through each day.
Thank you, Lord Jesus. For saving me from myself. For breathing
new life into my weary spirit. For never leaving me. Because this
I now know: No matter how far from You I ran, You were ever near.
And every time I turned my back, You were always facing me.
Would you like to know this same peace that Jim received? Pray
Dear Lord Jesus,
I know that I am a sinner and need your forgiveness. I believe
that You died on the cross for my sins and rose from the grave
to give me life. I know You are the only way to God so now I want
to quit disobeying You and start living for You. Please forgive
me, change my life and show me how to know You. In Jesus' name.
If you prayed that prayer, please send
us an e-mail to let us know. Or you can call our CBN Prayer
Counseling Center at (800) 759-0700. We would love to talk with
you and send you some literature to help you begin your walk with
a local church in your area.
Send us your prayer
request and find links to a
professional Christian counselor.
the Bible Says About Alcohol and Alcoholism
Alcohol A Sin?
Jim Robinson is a successful songwriter, musician, speaker, author,
and recovery counselor. A graduate of Christ Center School of Counseling
and Addiction Studies, Robinson is founder of ProdigalSong, a Christian
ministry utilizing music, speaking, counseling and teaching to convey
healing for the broken spirit. For information about his ministry
or his book, also called Prodigal Song, visit www.ProdigalSong.com
or contact Jim via e-mail: email@example.com.
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