I Can Change The World?

And I can change the world 

 I will be the sunlight in your universe 

 You would think my love was really something good 

 Baby if I could change the world”  -Eric Clapton Change The World 

As humans, we cannot, on our own, change the world. Late summer, after God took someone close to me home as a result of past drug abuse, I decided to join a cause to fight the drug abuse epidemic. Since then, I’ve tried to help people who are trapped by the voluntary slavery of drug addiction. I talked with them, but they didn’t follow through with the help I offered.   

People have told me “Jeff, you can’t change the world.”  That’s true. I get bummed out when I can’t help people change their destructive behavior.  I wish I could stop the insanity, which is reflected in the words of beat poet Allen Ginsberg in the beginning of Howl: “I saw the best minds of my generation destroyed by madness, starving hysterical naked, dragging themselves through the negro streets at dawn looking for an angry fix, angelheaded hipsters burning for the ancient heavenly connection to the starry dynamo in the machinery of night,…”    

With the addicts I’ve interacted with, I was successful in that I did what I could to rightly minister to them. Anything else is God’s role, not mine.  One thing I learned in a 12 Steps program is that one cannot fix people. Life doesn’t work that way. 

Today as I continued to go through The Life Recovery Devotional, I was reminded, admonished that I cannot change the world. Ultimately, that’s God’s job. Christians are just an instrument of God, his ambassadors. The devotional is on Step One: “We admitted that we were powerless over our dependencies and that our lives had become unmanageable.”    

Although we are not responsible for results, we must reach out and serve others, including drug addicts. I agree with Os Guiness, who said that Christian faith should not be “privately engaging but socially irrelevant.” This is why faith-based groups, such as Conquering Life Prison and Recovery Ministries (CLPRM) do what they do.  http://www.clprm.org/ 

The Life Recovery Bible, devotional and workbook doesn’t just address drug and alcohol problems. It also helps people overcome compulsive behaviors, other hurts, bad habits and hang ups, the root of which is sin. The Bible has a solution for any human problem that is not physiological.  

The much publicized opioid crisis is ultimately a spiritual epidemic, and the answer is found with God and His ambassadors. 

“15 Whatever is has already been, 

    and what will be has been before; 

    and God will call the past to account.

16 And I saw something else under the sun: 

In the place of judgment—wickedness was there,
    in the place of justice—wickedness was there. 

17 I said to myself, 

“God will bring into judgment
    both the righteous and the wicked,
for there will be a time for every activity,
    a time to judge every deed.” 

18 I also said to myself, “As for humans, God tests them so that they may see that they are like the animals. 19 Surely the fate of human beings is like that of the animals; the same fate awaits them both: As one dies, so dies the other. All have the same breath[b]; humans have no advantage over animals. Everything is meaningless. 20 All go to the same place; all come from dust, and to dust all return. 21 Who knows if the human spirit rises upward and if the spirit of the animal goes down into the earth?” 

22 So I saw that there is nothing better for a person than to enjoy their work, because that is their lot. For who can bring them to see what will happen after them? 

Oppression, Toil, Friendlessness 

4 Again I looked and saw all the oppression that was taking place under the sun: 

I saw the tears of the oppressed—
    and they have no comforter;
power was on the side of their oppressors—
    and they have no comforter.
2 And I declared that the dead,
    who had already died,
are happier than the living,
    who are still alive.
3 But better than both
    is the one who has never been born,
who has not seen the evil
    that is done under the sun.” Ecclesiastes 3:15 – 4:3 

Too Soon Old Too Late Smart

” Vee grow too soon oldt, und too late shmart.” (we grow too soon old and too late smart)   -old German saying

Like beat poet Allen Ginsberg, I see the best minds of my generation destroyed by madness. People’s lives are being destroyed by drugs, alcohol, and other destructive behavior. In Bucks County, PA, Steps to Recovery in Levittown, PA will host a ceremony in remembrance of those who lost their lives to overdoses. It will be held on August 30th, International Overdose Awareness Day. http://levittownnow.com/2017/08/03/recovery-center-tony-luke-jr-hosting-night-honoring-overdose-victims/

Seeing all this destructive, deadly behavior, I have to quote Astro, the dog on the old Jetson’s cartoon: “Rumtins rong rear Reorge!” (Something’s wrong here, George). I also quote Bob Dylan: “Something is happening here, and you don’t know what it is. Do you? Mr. Jones.” https://youtu.be/hC4r3QFnmQ8

Back in the 50’s, as depicted in Allen Ginsberg’s poem Howl, there was the beat generation, people who ruined their lives with drugs and other destructive behavior but they were on the fringe of society. Today, this behavior has become more mainstream. In fact, drug use and other erratic behavior is an epidemic!

People I know personally in Bucks County have and are still engaging in destructive behavior. Some have a chronic problem with booze and some with drugs. One guy, who almost died four times after abusing alcohol, landed back in the hospital again. Soon after got to a nursing home, he escaped! Somehow, he ended up in another hospital. He just wants to keep abusing alcohol and smoking. As a friend said, they are his god.  “As a dog returns to its vomit, so fools repeat their folly.” -Proverbs 26:11

Chronic drug and alcohol abuse are examples of besetting sin, a sin that has a strong hold on you and you just can’t seem to shake. “Do not get drunk on wine, which leads to debauchery. Instead, be filled with the Spirit” -Ephesians 5:18

One friend licked his substance abuse problems. He went through a 12 Step Program and went to and stuck with God. He now has a good job and acts responsibly and gets along well with others.

Although I don’t know anything about Steps to Recovery in Levittown, I was glad when I looked on their website and saw that they include the 12 Step Program in their treatment program. https://www.stepstorecovery.com/

Even with good rehab programs, people with big problems have to do their part. Resolving these problems is not just a matter of following steps. If you make a paper maché volcano and shake baking soda into the center then pour vinegar and red food coloring, then it will become effervescent and simulate a real volcano. Human behavior is not so predictable; doesn’t work that way. Sometimes you just have to walk away from people you are trying to help and let God take care of them.

Sometimes people just have to learn the hard way. I did. Although I can have a glass of wine and walk away and don’t do dope, I’ve engaged in destructive behavior in other ways. After I lost my job, my house, my wife, was alienated from relatives and suffered other problems, I finally started coming around.

Likewise, a guy I knew from the community meals for the homeless and those in need in Bucks County finally came around. His cousin told me his Aunt (the guy’s mom) asked him to help his cousin straighten out. It was to no avail. At one of the meals, a host ministered to the guy. Sometime after that, when I was visiting a friend with an alcohol problem in a local short-term inpatient treatment center, I ran into him. He realized the seriousness of his problem and said he was determined to get with the program. He transferred to another place and the last I heard his recovery was going well and that he had a little job.

Back in the 50’s, if you were a drunk or a doper you were an oddball. In the 50s people went to church and took their faith seriously. They read Christian authors such as CS Lewis as well as the Bible. Families prayed together and stayed together. Hearts and minds are the root of one’s character. You are what you think and where your heart is!

We demolish arguments and every pretension that sets itself up against the knowledge of God, and we take captive every thought to make it obedient to Christ.” -2nd Corinthians 10:5