Guiding LIght yellow 95th anniversary logo

“We Must Go and Wake Him Up”

“Tonight is a culmination of a full year of work, a year of investment, of surrender, of transformation of the men sitting up here in front of you. I want to acknowledge each of you for your accomplishment of living life in a new way. This milestone of reaching your first year of abstinence-based sobriety is a monumental accomplishment. You have made hard choices. You have made different choices than you have in the past. You’re sober, you have a home. You have a job. You have friends and a community. You have put in the work AND the time. You have followed the process. You have done the next right thing over and over and over – most of the time. And you recognize that this is just the beginning of your journey. Tonight is a chance to honor what you’ve done, to celebrate the men you are becoming, and to offer this possibility of new life to those who are just starting their journey.

I want to share a section from the book of John in the Bible. Don’t worry I’m not here to preach at you, and this is something I need to share. Because this is something happening right here, right now. You probably know the story of Lazarus in the book of John. Jesus had some friends, Mary and Martha and their brother Lazarus. Lazarus gets sick and dies, despite Mary and Martha sending messages for Jesus to come heal him. Knowing Lazarus is dead, what does Jesus say to those he’s with? He says, ‘my friend Lazarus has fallen asleep and I must go and wake him up.’ This might be a familiar phrase for you around Guiding Light: WAKE UP is one of our core values.

So Jesus gets to Lazarus’ tomb and wakes him up. He says, ‘Lazarus come out!’ And here’s the thing– Lazarus has been dead for several days, his body would have been wrapped tightly with grave linens and he would STINK from decay. This next part of the story is where it gets interesting: when Jesus raises him from the dead, when Lazarus was woken up, the grave clothes did not magically fall off. Lazarus was still bound, he was still in bondage when he comes out of the tomb. Jesus did not remove the linens, Lazarus did not remove his linens. The community is commanded to free him. Jesus tells those surrounding, ‘Unwrap him. Let him go from the trappings of death.’ The community releases him from the bondage of his old life. And this is what is happening tonight. This is what has been happening over the past year. This is what we want to happen for everyone involved with Guiding Light.

These type of events are a result of individuals like the men sitting up here being willing to be part of a community like this, a community willing to step in, get messy, and do the hard work of letting go of an old way of life. We can best experience the love and discipline of God in community. For those who of you are currently in programming or looking to get into the program, for all of us here, looking to live life in a new way where we have woken up to the gift of life that God has given us, I want you to listen to this very carefully: follow the process. The men sitting up here did not get lucky. They did not take the easier softer way. They did not do it on their own. They followed the process. I want to challenge each of us to not let our minds play tricks on us, to take the softer way that leads to death. I want to challenge you to step in to the mystery of life that God has given to us”

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