This is my comfort in my affliction,
that your promise gives me life. (Psalm 119:50)
It is so easy when our lives are off balance to lose hope for a better tomorrow. As we look around at present reality, we are tempted to give up and give in to the voices telling us things will always be just as miserable as they are right now.
In college, when I “came clean” and stopped using the illicit drugs that were in essence holding my psychotic symptoms at bay (yet costing me mental stability), I hit what many addicts call a “rock bottom,” I was living alone in a downtown apartment, lying on a used mattress on the floor, working a job stuffing millions of plastic bags into cardboard boxes. I had nothing but time on my hands to look within myself and look around and wonder just what I was going to do with my life. I was lost. I felt miserable. And alone.
Then I started reading the Bible. Again, but like it was the first time. The promise of God’s Word is that the life we often settle for is so much less than the abundant life we are promised in Christ. New life is experienced in the person of Jesus Christ, in his healing touch and saving hand. In a world filled with broken promises, this is a promise we can rely on – now and forever.
New life in the resurrection of Christ is more than just a pie-in-the-sky hope for a future resting place for our disembodied souls called “heaven.” The new life we gain in Christ impacts how we live each day, each moment. Our lives, even as we go through ups and downs, become more abundant, richer, more full of purpose and meaning. Life begins to make delightful sense in the midst of the messy disorder within and around us.
With this hope in hand, I began to make the most of the present and envision a better future. I left the factory and did a summer mission stint in a Christian community in South Georgia called Koinonia (Greek for “fellowship” or “communion”). Time I had spent escaping with drugs I now spent communing with God and others through prayer and worship. Instead of packing plastic, I was planting vegetables. Instead of isolating myself on an assembly line, I built relationships with children in Bible study and older adults over community meals.
The promise for better days ahead in Christ, when properly received, does not cause us to give up and let the world go to pot. Quite the opposite. Knowing that God cares deeply about redemption, restoration, resurrection, and renewal, we can look beyond ourselves and join God at work making the world a better place – for generations to come.
Working at Koinonia did not magically heal me of past hurts or remove present temptations. But while I was there, God set me on a course of away from seeking self-comfort to looking to serve others. I’ve taken many detours along the road, but I’m still moving forward towards that heavenly fellowship, that divine communion, the kingdom of God on earth as it is in heaven.