A Tunnel into the Kingdom of God

By Keith Miller | March 23, 2009

Keith, I know I drink too much. I am a Christian and I attend church.  I’m even asked to teach classes on the Bible and the history of the church. I always assumed I could quit (drinking) but after two DUI’s, I’m frightened and have backed away from God and my family vacillates between pleading with me to change and isolating from me in disgust.  I hear you had a drinking problem at one time, then I didn’t hear about you until recently.  What happened to you?

Dear J.,

In 1976 my wife and I were divorced. I was sick at heart, and what made it worse was that it was my fault. I walked the beaches of Mustang Island, wept, and cried out to God, confessing my sin and my powerlessness.

I was a professional speaker and writer, but suddenly not many Christians wanted me to come and speak or read my books. And so my financial world crashed too.

I finally went for help, and told my mentor in tears that no one wanted me. It helped to share my failure and misery. Then I recalled a visit years before with an outstanding minister from England named Ernest Southcott.[1][1]After hearing my story, he said thoughtfully, “Keith, you are very disciplined. And it sounds like your spiritual journey is to climb the spiritual mountain, calling back down to other more timid spiritual pilgrims,‘Look out here, there’s slippery shale!’, or‘Watch out for the spiritual cougars in this are.’But Keith, you’re so disciplined that it would take a very committed spiritual athlete to follow you over the mountain.”

“But I still believe that’s my vocation: to help people cross the mountains that stand between them and God.”

“Yes, but there is another way to get them to the other side of the mountain.”

“What’s that?”

“Dig a tunnel through the mountain. Then even a spiritual cripple in a wheelchair can reach the other side.”

I was stunned. “That’s amazing. It’s obviously true but why don’t more spiritual guides ‘dig a tunnel’?”

“Because,” he answered, “to dig a tunnel, one has to disappear from public view for a long time—and not many Christian leader types are willing to ‘disappear’ that long. People might forget them.”

So years after that night with Father Southcott, I realized that I had to quit worrying about what I had lost in the public arena, and begin quietly to face the issues in my own life and get that in order. In the process I learned about my compulsive workaholic life and the ways I used people, places, and substances to overcome the pain I was in because of my own sin. Consequently as I quit trying to get church leaders to like me, and went to a treatment center, I began to recover. I disappeared into the world of other people who were in serious pain. For more than twenty years I prayed, studied, wrote books, counseled and lectured to people in pain because of their addictions (including addiction to food, work, alcohol, sex, and religion). I learned to listen for God’s guidance, read the Bible in a different way, and I met several times a week with people who also wanted recovery and to learn how to surrender to God.

And I tried to learn what God has given us on this journey to deal with our fear, pain, and our bruised and broken relationships with him, other people, and ourselves. And although I didn’t‘disappear’voluntarily, I realized that I was tunneling into the mountain of pain and fear and might someday be able to help other people to get beyond these mountains of the fear, shame and pain in their lives, which had been generated by their sin and compulsive living.In this tunnel of recovery, I was invisible to the Christian world, but I’d found a new world of people on a deeply spiritual journey who were also longing to learn the truth about how God can free us and teach us to love and receive love.

The one day not too long ago, after many years, I got an invitation to speak to a conference of hundreds of Christian ministers about God’s love and healing for addicts and alcoholics. And I wrote several books about problems I’d discovered in my life that I hadn’tbeen able to see—even as a Christian.

Coming out of the tunnel after all these years, I am not the same somehow—quieter inside—and I see God in the world in a different way. I don’t feel driven to “be on the program,” and I’m not very interested in being something “big.” Most of the time I’d rather just love the people in our families and in our town, and tell some people who are tired of their fear and loneliness and discouraged about their relationships, that God really can bring a transforming life with peace in the midst of it all. And I want to tell them about the love I’m discovering for the little child inside of me, for God, for my family, and for the other people that God has put in my life—maybe even including some of you who read these words.

Lord, thank you for those Christians who forgave me when I felt so shameful and undeserving. And help me never to forget how painful it was when other Christian people could not forgive my sin, so that I can represent you better when others who have sinned repent and come back toward your church. In Jesus’ name. Amen.

“David said to Nathan,‘I have sinned against the Lord,’And Nathan said to David,‘The Lord also has put away your sin; you shall not die.” 11 Samuel 12:13

“Miners hammer away at the rock, they uproot the mountains. Theytunnelthrough the rock and find all kinds of beautiful gems. They discover the origins of rivers, and bring earth’s secrets to light.” Job 28:9-11 The Message

Topics: Christian Living, Weekly Devotional | Comments Off on A Tunnel into the Kingdom of God
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