A Slow-Learned Lesson

We are all broken. To one degree or another, the best among us are broken. We’re all in need of some sort of healing, or growing. We all need to be restored, to be put back together.

Over the years I’ve learned a few things about brokenness and restoration. Now I’d like to share something with you, something that I’ve only learned through the long, slow, arduous process of repeated breaking and healing.

It is this.

The magnitude of my suffering has never been in proportion to the magnitude of my misfortune. Instead, the magnitude of my suffering has always been proportional to my brokenness.

Hatred, discouragement, bitterness, selfishness, greed, lack of faith, an unwillingness to forgive – these are some of the attributes of brokenness.

These things magnify, ten-fold and a hundred-fold, the effects of misfortune. Misfortune may be an illness, an automobile accident, a house-rending tornado. All of these things are more devastating if you’re broken.

Sometimes our brokenness is a direct contributor to our misfortune. Sometimes we are our own worst enemy, and our brokenness leads to crippling debt, a loveless marriage, a painful betrayal, a messy divorce, or cirrhosis of the liver.

In every case – whether we contribute to our misfortune, or whether it’s caused by circumstances we can’t control – in every case, our degree of brokenness affects both our level of pain and our ability to recover.

Enter God.

I’m going to ask you to do something very hard. I hope you’ll try it.

Instead of appealing to God about your suffering, appeal to him about your brokenness. It is here, in the healing of your brokenness, that your suffering will begin to diminish.

You can approach him again, later, about the suffering. You’ll know when it’s time.

Meanwhile, God can do things in you that you cannot do. He wants to. Why not let him?

–Bob Young

Books by Bob Young

In Self Destruct Mode

20141211 In Self Destruct ModeA man bought a bottle of elixir from a snake oil salesman. He was told it would make him feel great. The snake oil salesman said, “Take one teaspoonful every morning.”

The first day, the man took a teaspoonful. It was delicious! And he felt great! The second day he took another teaspoonful, and the third day, and the fourth. By the fifth day, he started to feel bad in the evening. He said, “I’m looking forward to tomorrow morning – when I take the elixir, I’ll feel great again!

This continued for weeks. Then, one night an angel from God appeared to him in a dream. The angel said, “The elixir is causing you to feel bad. There was no problem until you trusted the elixir. You must put it far from you.”

But the man didn’t believe the angel. He didn’t trust the angel. He trusted the elixir. Every morning, when he took the elixir, he felt good. So, he couldn’t believe the elixir was the problem.

And every evening, he felt worse than the evening before.

The angel appeared to him again. This time the angel said, “The elixir is killing you. It works by taking a part of your life. It sacrifices your future to produce the feeling of well-being now.”

But the man still wouldn’t listen to the angel. He continued to trust the elixir. He felt worse and worse. Finally, he died.

Okay. Now, it’s time for me to ask you some questions.
What is your elixir? In my parable, it’s a liquid. But in real life, it may be something else.
Where are you in this story? You haven’t died yet, but where are you?
Has God’s messenger told you that you’re on a path of self-destruction?

It’s time for the good news. Yes. I have good news!

Your story can have a different ending. How? By listening to God’s messenger.

“You must put it far from you.”

Yes, I know you can’t put it far away. It holds you. You do not hold it.

But I have good news!

Jesus was born for such a time as this. For what you’re facing right now. You say, “God, I want to put it far away, but I can’t! Help me!”

Jesus – Emmanuel – God With Us – God With YOU – steps in. He separates right from wrong, light from dark, east from west, sin from righteousness. He separates you from the elixir of self-destruction.

And there is even more good news!

Jesus will not leave you empty. The truth is, it’s the elixir that leaves you empty. Jesus will put the elixir far away from you, and fill you – with all good things.

It’s time to stop your self-destruction. Now.

Send me a message if you want to. I’ll pray for you.

–Bob Young

Books by Bob Young


Sunday Assignment #14: Overcoming Addiction

Any cure for addiction is partially successful. Programs that keep records advertise their success rate as a percentage. There are no guarantees. To be honest, religion is the same way. There are a lot of Christian addicts, and there are a lot of Christians who have recovered from addiction only to experience one or more relapses later.

There is a principle behind addiction: we will do what we value.

Overcoming addiction comes down to one thing: we need to find something that we value more than whatever it is we’re addicted to. And what we’re addicted to is really not the alcohol, or the drugs, or the sex. It’s a way of life.

If you’re addicted, you need a way of life that you value more than your current way of life.

The Assignment –
Learn how your addiction is embedded into your way of life.

Spend some time looking at your addiction as an impartial observer. Step outside yourself for a minute. What would your best friend say?

Wait – is God your best friend? Ask God to open your eyes and let you see your addiction as an integral part of your way of life. How does it influence your free time? Your meals? Your sleep? Your friendships? Your money? Your job?

We will do what we value.

Ask God to change your values. Ask God to help you find new ways of living out your days. Begin bringing joy to God again. Rejoice in his smiles and approval.

Jesus said that he came to bring us new life. This new life is not just something in heaven; it’s a new way of life right here, and right now.

God is very patient with you. He is very forgiving. He’ll still be with you, and on your side, through any number of relapses. Ask his forgiveness, and start again. This will make God smile. He is for you. He is here, right now. And he’ll be here tomorrow.

It’s not strength that you need, so much as a new way of life. As you long for this new way of life – as you value what God shows you about time, food, sleep, relationships, money, and work – the addiction’s chains will melt away.

What’s your story? Is there anything you can share about your addiction and recovery? What happened? How are you doing with it?

(The Sunday Assignment was originally intended for people who love God, but avoid the church. Now, it turns out that many “church-going” Christians are also reading it. May our Lord bless you with insight and courage as you read this.)

Recovering Hope

Friend, here is the reason for your despair.

Satan is working diligently to convince you that your current path is leading you to an inevitable outcome. The result is that you continue to set one foot in front of another, walking this same path, knowing its consequences, yet unable to alter your course.

But God, who made you, is with you. You can walk a new way – change your course – one step at a time. It won’t be long before your steps result in a cumulative change in direction. You will have turned everything around. The threat that loomed so large will recede and grow smaller.

God made you. He doesn’t resent your years of rejection. He delights in your desire to change that future which appeared so unavoidable. You will see light again. You’re getting a glimpse of light and hope from the Spirit of God even now, as you read these words in defiance of the voice that told you to stop.

Your new direction has begun.

–Bob Young
May 23, 2012

Note: this message was written about the despair that comes from self-destructive behavior, and doesn’t apply to everyone. I understand that you, in your despair, may not relate to these words. I’m praying for you, too, and I’ll write another article that may be more relevant to your situation. –Bob

Freedom From Addiction

A man was carrying a bucket full of sand. He had been carrying it for a long time. He used to have a lot of fun at the beach, and every time he went to the beach, he picked up some sand and put it in his bucket. The bucket of sand used to make him smile. It represented happy memories of happy times in happy places. But lately, he was tired. The beach wasn’t so much fun. And the bucket of sand had become a burden.

His pockets were full of sand, too. This was because he ran out of room in the bucket. When the bucket was full of sand, he picked up some more sand, and – put it in his pocket. He couldn’t stop picking up sand… so many happy memories of the beach, you know. So he got into the habit of going to the beach, picking up some sand, looking at the full bucket, and stuffing some more sand in his pocket. Then, the next pocket, and the next, and the next, until every pocket was as full of sand as the bucket.

When he went home, he would accidentally spill some sand on the carpet. His wife complained about it, but he didn’t think it was any big deal. She would just vacuum it up. Sometimes, he even vacuumed up the spilled sand himself. In fact, it was better if he could clean up the sand before his wife even noticed it. That saved some trouble. No point getting in trouble over sand.

Sometimes, though, the sand spilled on the hardwood floor. That was kind of a big deal. If he didn’t clean it up in time, someone would walk on the sand, and it would permanently scratch the floor. It always left a mark. Even when he cleaned it up and polished the floor, if you looked real close you could always see the scar left by the sand.

He would spill some sand at work sometimes, too. It would fall off the top of the bucket, or slide out through a hole in his pocket. Sand got in the gears and fouled up a few things. Sand got on his co-workers’ desks, too, and they complained about having to clean up his mess.

After a while it got really bad at home and at work. Finally, his boss said, “If I see any more of your sand, you’re fired.” His wife said, “If I see any more of your sand, I’m leaving you.”

The man admitted that it would make sense to dump the sand. It was creating a lot of problems. He reminded himself that he was tired, the beach wasn’t so much fun, and the sand had become a burden. But still – he had carried the sand for so long that he couldn’t imagine himself without it. In fact, when he tried to think of life without the sand, it kind of made him shiver. It was – well – frightening, actually. Life without sand…

One day, as he was walking on the beach, he found a pearl. He had never seen one before. He had heard about them, but he had never actually found one. It was beautiful! And he knew it was worth a lot of money, too. There was just one problem – he couldn’t pick it up. He had both hands full of sand.

Right then he made a decision. He dropped the sand and picked up the pearl. He was really happy. A pearl. He had a pearl!

Can you imagine his delight and surprise when he saw a second pearl? There was no hesitation this time. He knew exactly what to do, and he did it. He dumped some sand out of his pocket to make room for the second pearl. In fact, he dumped a lot of sand out of his pocket, so he could stick the pearl in deep. He didn’t want it to fall out on the way to the jewelry store before he ever had a chance to sell it. He got rid of a lot of sand to make room for that one pearl in his pocket. He kept holding the first pearl tightly in his hand. Then he went to the jewelry store and sold them both.

The next day he couldn’t wait to walk back to the beach. He hoped maybe he’d be able to find another pearl or two. Well, something had changed. Something wonderful had happened. The man had learned how to see pearls, where before he only saw the sand. He didn’t just find one or two pearls; he found lots of pearls. Some of the pearls were buried beneath the sand, and only a glimmer was showing. The man swept the sand away to expose those pearls, and then he picked them up. He picked up the pearls – not the sand.

He dumped sand out of his pockets, and put pearls in. Then, his pockets were full of pearls! Do you know what he did? He dumped the sand out of his bucket. All of it. Then he kept looking for the next pearl, and when he found it, he dropped that one, beautiful pearl in the empty bucket. He liked the sound it made when it bounced on the bottom. And the bucket was so light!

He kept finding pearls, and he put them in the bucket. At the end of the day, he took the pearls to the jewelry store and sold them. Day after day he did this. He made a lot of money selling pearls. He had money left over after he paid all his bills.

Then he saw a family that needed help, and so he used some of the extra money to buy them some groceries. On another occasion, he saw a man walking barefoot, so he bought him a pair of shoes.

Then one day he sat on the beach, looking at the sunrise, and thought about the way his life had changed. “I hoarded the sand, and it became a burden. I sell the pearls, and that’s how they become a blessing. I held onto something of no value, and it kept me from managing the things of real value.”

The story of the man with the burden of sand is over.

But what about you? What about your burden?

Here is the explanation of the parable. We think that life without our addiction would be frightening. We think it would be life with an empty bucket and empty pockets. But – I’m telling you the truth – it is just the opposite. Without your addiction, your bucket is immediately filled with other things – things of far greater value to you – pearls! Your addiction isn’t filling your life. It is preventing your life from being filled.

This is the word of God to you: “Don’t be afraid. Empty your hand, and I the Lord will fill it. Take hold of me, and I will take hold of you.”

–Bob Young