Day 30

“And so from this one man, and he as good as dead, came descendants as numerous as the stars in the sky and as countless as the sand on the seashore.” – Hebrews 11:12

Alcoholics Anonymous uses a term called “pulling a geographic,” which refers to the thinking that changing one’s location can help to solve one’s problems with addiction and other traumas. The idea is that sufferers can “leave their troubles behind.” AA makes it pretty clear that this doesn’t work. Rather than leaving those troubles behind, you almost invariably end up taking them with you to the new place.

I’ve tried a few times to pull geographics in the past. First to New York City, then back home to Baltimore, then to Washington DC. Each spot has provided good things in its own right: wonderful new friends, fun new experiences, new opportunities. But none of them ever provided the thing that, when I really stop to think about it, I was actually searching for. That thing is new birth.

There is a quote by George Macdonald that says, “But for life there could be no death. If God were not, there would not even be nothing. Not even nothingness preceded life. Nothingness owes its very idea to existence.” The opposite can be true as well. Existence owes its very idea to nothingness. Creation owes its very idea to death.

The Bible passage above refers to Abraham and his many offspring, but it could just as easily refer to each one of us and the new birth that can come from within us all. Just like Abraham’s descendants were “as numerous as the stars in the sky and as countless as the sand on the seashore,” so too can what we create from within ourselves be infinite.

But just like Abraham was “as good as dead,” we need to put to death some of the things about ourselves in order that new life might spring forth. Our former pastor, Ed Kelaher, used to pray every morning, “God put me to death today so that your Holy Spirit can come and fill me up to do your will.” Similarly, I have found that to create I need to put certain parts of myself to death. Those parts like shame, regret, and anger. Only then, as I loosen the bonds that those thoughts and emotions have over me, can I begin to create new birth within me.

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