It was 2002 that I picked up Rick Warren’s nationwide best seller, “The Purpose Driven Life.” At that point in my life, my husband and two daughters had just moved to Appleton, Wisconsin and I found myself with no friends, a business that felt like pushing a snowball uphill and overwhelming grief over the life we left behind in Milwaukee. Simply put, I was depressed. One day I found myself aimlessly wandering through the isles of the neighborhood bookstore when the subtitle of Mr. Warren’s book literally jumped off the shelf, “What on earth am I here for?” Which was the exact question I was asking myself, “Why on earth am I in Appleton, Wisconsin?”
I later found that the book was about why God put me on this earth and what his purpose was for my life – which did ultimately lead me to a surrendered life in Jesus Christ – but, I believe it was no coincidence that I found this book and because of it, I gained friends, found a church and re-prioritized my life.
As you read the first few pages, the book explains that it was written to be a 40-day journey and parallels that with the statement, “Whenever God wanted to prepare someone for his purposes, he took 40 days.” Noah had 40 days of rain, Moses transformed by 40 days on Mt. Sinai, the spies had 40 days in the promise land. David and Goliath’s 40-day challenge, Elijah, Jonah in Nineveh, Jesus in the wilderness and 40 days on earth in his resurrected body. 40 days (biblically) is a really big deal!
Well, I have been sober 45 days and there is no doubt that God is doing some wonderful things in my life. As I shared in a previous blog, I have been an avid YouTube watcher, looking for any and all topics that educate, inspire and explain why I don’t need alcohol or shouldn’t touch the stuff. I have benefited from having more energy, better sleep and a crisp clear mind. I’m down 12lbs, gained an amazing circle of support, am cherishing the quality of time that I am getting with my husband and daughters and have a renewed vigor about life, goals and my future. [If you are following me, I recorded at my 30 day milestone that I applied for a master’s in counseling program and I found out (on my 40th day of living sober) that I have been accepted. Wahoo!!!!]
All this to say, 40 days truly can change your life. However, I do not want to give someone false hope though. What makes 40 days truly magical, is how closely you cling to God.
“I am the vine; you are the branches. Whoever abides in me and I in him, he it is that bears much fruit, for apart from me you can do nothing.” John 15:4
I want to share one particular story that will forever be imprinted on my heart because God showed up when I needed him most. My life long girlfriend was coming to town and a few weeks prior she asked if I wanted to go golfing. I was within my first two weeks of not drinking and this particular friend is my most fun drinking buddy. When we are together, we are fun! I wanted to decline, but I mustered up the strength to say yes; believing that a true friend would accept and respect my decision. Well, that’s only one side of it. The other side is that it’s golf, and I golf better after I have had a few drinks and to be totally honest, it’s one of those activities that drinking is just part of why I like to golf. This temptation is beyond what I imagined I would be able to bear.
For weeks I was anxious over this and I almost cancelled numerous times, but I really missed my friend and wanted to spend time with her. When the day finally came, I threw myself into my bible and lamented in prayer, “God help me, I do not have the strength to do this on my own.” Just as God is God, he met me right where I was at and brought me to Deuteronomy 30:11, “The command I am giving you today is not too difficult for you, and it is not beyond your reach.”
I cried like a baby, those were the EXACT words I needed (in addition the verses 12-20) and I persevered. It was hard, I’m not going to kid you, but I was empowered, by God, to golf without drinking. It remains my proudest milestone accomplishment to date.
So, I post this today to update my followers on my status, encourage those who are on a journey of their own and celebrate what God has done in just 45 days. My friend, Maggie, says, “I know God has performed miracles in my life, my entire life, but when you visibly see God move a mountain right in front of you, Whoa!” I can personally say that I have witnessed mountains move.
When God puts his finger on your sin or wants you to obey him in an area where your life doesn’t necessarily align with what his purpose is for you, buckle your seat belt because it’s going to be quiet a ride. Here’s to the next 40 days!