Spirits Move

 

I don’t know a better way to describe God than the spirit that moves.

I was seeking to be moved long before I allowed God to move me. Drunkenness is a synthetic spiritual experience after all. (that opinion argued here) Drunk, we are moved to do things we normally wouldn’t; we drop the veil of inhibition. Developing either one of these experiences eliminates the crave for the other, I’ve found. Today, I crave for God to move me.

My first experience of this nature was in rehab. Something compelled me to utter words I promised myself I’d never say. “My name is Mark and I’m an alcoholic.” (that story here) I know the words weren’t mine because once I said them all I could think was: you idiot! What the hell was that? What have you done?!

God continued to move me. He moved me like a chess piece to an extended care facility. He moved me to become a teacher, and marry my wife. All major life decisions in sobriety have one clear common denominator: I was moved.

 

I’m an English teacher.

I spend a lot of time with words. Teaching high schoolers to write brings you to some interesting observations. Did you know the difference between being convinced and persuaded?

to convince someone is to change that person’s mind

to persuade someone is to cause that person to do something

I make the distinction because nobody could ever convince me God existed. People sure tried. But, 


arguments concerning the existence of God are futile, whereas experiencing the existence of God is fruitful.


I thought I would have to be convinced, until I became experienced. Being “moved” is not about being convinced, it’s about being persuaded.

Here’s what the progression of God’s persuasion has looked like for me:

 

In the beginning

(sorry—couldn’t help myself)

It was a voice,

The quietest voice I’ve ever heard.

Imagine a mouse squeaking inside a cotton cage.

It told me: “you’re name is Mark and you’re an alcoholic.”

For me this says so much of the nature of God. If it were my son, I would be screaming to him at the top of my lungs. I would chastise him, ask him how can he not possibly see it. But God didn’t scream, didn’t yell, didn’t chastise. God just told me—in the world’s quietest voice—who I really was.

 

In the middle 

(of my faith journey)

Of course I forgot how my creator whispered in my ear.

I lost the immensity of that experience in the drudgery of living in the world, with all its faithless spinning.

So God grew. God persuaded me by demonstrating who controls the outside world too.

I moved to Portland, Oregon with 6 months sober with one goal: to stay sober. The sober community there was incredible. It was also summer time. When the warm breezes cascade down from Mount Hood and 15 hours of sunshine bake your skin.

My counsellors told me to avoid romantic relationships for a year. But, come one, seriously? I thought we weren’t a glum lot. I thought sobriety was about freedom and fun.

My first 3 days in Portland, I went to 3 different meetings and heard 3 males lead.

Let’s say half of Portland’s meetings use a speaker to lead. That means already the chances for me to only hear 3 separate men lead on consecutive days is 1 in 16. Now, add this:

Each man had recently relapsed because he got in a relationship in his first year of recovery.

Day 1: Wow, well that’s a coincidence.

Day 2: Ok, that’s a little weird.

Day 3: For God’s sake! I get it God! Do you really have to cram it down my conscience like that?

(I imagine God chuckles heartily—not like Santa Claus—all holly and jolly and shit—but like some bearded biker who just heard a good story from the road)   

 

In the Now

I don’t see this as God altering the world in some physical magnificence. No. The Miracle of the Mundane is about God being a constant in our everyday world. Our very existence is godly, once we clear away the mess of the contrarian world.

God persists in persuading me. Even when I can’t detect God’s presence in me or around me, I trust that God is there.

10 Responses to “Spirits Move

  • The idea of God is so hard to communicate, let alone put into words. But you did it beautifully. So I assume you stayed out of a relationship that first year? Lol

    • Ryan – I did! Some close calls I can tell you. I met my wife with 2 years sober (roughly) and married her with 3.

  • Mark I love this one. Seriously. I love the persuade vs convince thing because I often confuse the two, and I can see that certainly I have been persuaded by the Creator in so many ways. It reminds me of that distinction of knowing God and understanding God. I will never understand Him, but I know Him because of what He has done in my life.

    This is marvelous…thank you so much for this, my friend. You are a shining light.

    Paul

    • Thanks Paul. I’m glad you can relate! I was teaching a class about the difference between those two words as I was writing the post. ‘Twas fate.

  • Thank you for sharing this.

  • This is one of my favorite pieces that you have written. God is always there, I trust God in everything. I am in this world but I am not of this world. My purpose is to share what I have faith in and how He saved my life. God moves in and around us all, all of the time. My prayer is that it doesn’t take ones we can reach to hit the depths of addiction to get it. Thanks Mark, you do an outstanding job my man.

    • Thanks Kip! We are in this boat together, and God is directing it! It’s really thrilling to be with you on the journey my friend.

  • Thanks for mentioning the relationship/slip stories you heard about in early sobriety. Alcoholics sure are stubborn, it does take 3 times of hearing something we don’t like for us to even consider it doesn’t it? Thanks for also being so open about your spiritual conversations.

    • You are most welcome! It was such a clear (outside of me) sign that I am being directed, not just ambling around in this life without direction. Here to help and happy to help.

  • Thanks Mark. God help us all today.

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