WHO AM I
I continually find it interesting that anyone would ever want to read any of these devotionals in the first place, but it has been one of the most rewarding things that I have ever done. A little background seems to be in order about where I come from and why I walk around with a smile on my face most days, even when life's storms are blowing strong.
My background is a bit more checkered than some and less so than others, but I can tell you with utter certainty that God can utilize anyone to touch the lives of others as He chooses. I was born and reared in California. There was good and bad in my upbringing, as there is with most of us. I experienced every kind of abuse there was-including physical, verbal, and sexual-over the course of those years, and I experienced happiness, joy, and contentment at times as well. I was introverted in those years and struggled to find a way to just be okay.Drugs and alcohol, once I tried them, seemed like a solution, and I embraced and consumed them with a gusto that is phenomenal. I had found "the answer," and it worked for a time.
Then everything fell apart. To avoid too much drama I'll spare you the details, but suffice it to say that my struggles included time in jail, a suicide attempt and other serious addiction and relationship troubles...too much to go into here...it wasn't pretty.
Whew! Rough life for a Christian-yes, that's right, a Christian. I began building my relationship with Christ at age 16 when a friend prayed the sinner's prayer with me in the bleachers at a high school basketball game. I bounced in and out of churches over the years, struggling with all of that addiction stuff, but I somehow knew that my soul longed for a real relationship with God. So there I was-a Catholic, Baptist, Four-Square, Non-Denominational, Presbyterian, Charismatic, Methodist who checked out Jehovah Witness and Mormon churches (just in case there was an answer there). I was living the kind of life Paul wrote about in Romans 7, "That which I would do, I don't do; the things that I don't want to do, these things I do." I would amaze people at parties when I'd do a line of speed then grab a Bible to point out my sinful ways! But, sarcasm aside, I just couldn't figure it out. Then I got sober on March 27, 1990.
I did NOT go back to church at that time because it was connected in my mind with relapse. I liken it to the Bible story about Jesus healing the ten lepers. One of them follows Jesus, shouting and praising God for the healing, while the other nine just sort of disappear. Like one of the nine-I failed to connect my healing with the church. It took some years for God to call me back there. I believe today that God needed me to learn how to be clean and sober through personal discipline and work. These were things that had not existed in my life to any great degree up to that point, and it was through this discipline that He was able to bring me back around.
Sometimes God gives us the instantaneous miracle cure. Sometimes He chooses not to do so. There are those who would have you believe that this is all a matter of how much faith you have. And I believe if you were to look at their lives, you would find the same death and despair in them-despite their prayers- that you find in your own. I believe that for me an instant miracle cure was not the answer. I needed to go through every single moment of my slow recovery so that I could be better prepared for today-for This Day.
Oh, yeah, today. I work with alcoholics and addicts almost every day of my life. God has used my experiences to make a positive impact on others. It is humbling what He has done and continues to do. There is much that I could write about, but I figure you're about done reading about me (or maybe you were done a little bit ago and didn't get this far).
My personal mission is one that I hope continues to grow and expand because I have a firm belief that our Church has lost sight of the reality of life's struggles. We have become a "name it and claim it" society that works very hard to avoid difficulty and trials. The irony is that it is in these trials that we are made "perfect". I believe that my role in the Church is to be open with my life, and to reach out to others in authenticity. I want to utilize every experience that I have had to connect with others and let them know that it really, really does not matter what you have done or where you have been - GOD LOVES YOU RIGHT WHERE YOU ARE, WHETHER YOU CHANGE OR NOT. Of course, His is the love that leads to change, so you really don't stand much of a chance of staying the same, but His grace is not dependent on your change... That's where my smile comes from-to be here, living clean & sober since 1990 and in His grace despite not deserving any of it. Amazing! If it were to end tomorrow, I will have been the single most blessed man that has walked on this planet. You see, I really couldn't get here from where I was...not on my own...there was no path...there was no road... So God made one... Michael L. Devine
The devotional "This Day" actually stemmed from my inability to follow direction. I was involved in a program at Church called First Place, a lifestyle change program to help with weight control. The gist is that you need to put God in "First Place" in your life...seems reasonable to me. One of the things that you do is support each other in the group by picking a name and contacting them during the week. Being the "one is good, two is better" type of person that I am, I decided to send an encouragement out to all 10-12 of us in the group and "This Day" was born, though it had no name yet. It then began to spread by word-of-mouth to other church members and God blessed it and has not stopped blessing it at this point. At this point in time, there hundreds of names on the list and it keeps growing. That was not my intent. My intent was to encourage a few folks and God has expanded it beyond anything I could have imagined. The web site was not my intent or my idea. Others thought of it and it was another person that has actually built it. What I have learned is that God can do pretty much anything with anybody at anytime. The irony of this is that, while I truly enjoy the feedback that I get from others (and some have brought me to tears as they tell me that something that God used me to write helped them in a tangible way to get through loss of loved ones, cancer, accidents, sickness and many other of life's troubles), I was unable to be disciplined in my study and time with God. God knows that if I don't have a big accountability group, then I'll drop the ball so He uses everyone on the email list to help me stay faithful. As the list keeps growing, it just means that God sees that there aren't enough people involved yet in my accountability group so He keeps adding to them to keep me on track. Some of us need more help than others...I just seem to need more help than most!