by Harry Maner, ISP Houston 

In this world, many consider the word “resurrection” to mean something that’s brought back to life after being revived after a time of inactivity. As a Christian, “resurrection” is the main belief of our faith. It is by the grace of God that we have been saved through faith in Jesus Christ and secured by the Holy Spirit. This means we can live in victory today because of the sacrificial finished works of Christ.

When I was younger and I had a life that hurt myself and others, I wasn’t ready to hear those words and the promise of resurrection. I look back and realize that I had often experienced those small tragedies and deaths. We all in some way die daily. It took me a while to realize how I need to experience those deaths to see a new life that Jesus promises by slowly working in me and others.

As Jesus prepared His disciples for what was to come, that is “The Resurrection,” He spoke these words as a comfort of knowing that they would see Him again, as He was to complete this life on earth. “And if I go and prepare a place for you, I will come again and receive you unto myself; that where I am, there ye may be also.” (John 14:3) When I heard words like this from Jesus, I felt changed and as though I was a man filled with the breath of the Spirit. I sensed that a kind of resurrection, a new life was possible after my life before.

Without “The Resurrection” there would not have been a mold for how to live sacrificially. Jesus personified and demonstrated the mystery and secrets of a crucified life. A self-centered life is full of misery and an abundant life occurs only when one dies to his self-interests. That is a realization that I have had several times in life, and one of those times was my first ISP retreat. I met men who, like me, wanted to give away the hope God had given to them. And I made fast friends with them, men I hold as brothers still today. One other man on that retreat still often reminds me, “Be doing God’s work, not Harry’s work.” As the saying goes, “Iron sharpens iron, man sharpens man.” I count on those others to make that true for me, and I for them. That is the ongoing experience of resurrection and hope for me. That’s what Step Twelve in my recovery means to me: I must help others who struggle to know that commitment to better life, foster a good community, and show how to grow spiritually in hope and the new options God reveals.

In the Gospel of Matthew, Jesus demonstrated this to his disciples and to us: “Then said Jesus unto His disciples, ‘If any man will come after me, let him deny himself, and take up his cross, and follow me. For whosoever will save his life shall lose it; and whosoever will lose his life for my sake shall find it.’” (Matthew 16:24-25)

My experience in ISP has been a part of a new life. I feel like Mary Magdalene after Jesus asked her to tell the other disciples about the resurrection. My job is to get in line with the task He sets for me. God has asked me to give up something and let go of what is broken, as if I am a broken vessel of clay and He wants to create something new instead of throwing me away, making me into a vase for beautiful flowers, a jug to water the plants, a cup to quench the thirsty – a way to pour new life into others. If I surrender to that plan, God can fix the rest. I ask God to let me see that every next day. Thank You, Lord. I am very content with what You have given and a new life of abundance.

“Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, which according to his abundant mercy hath begotten us again into a lively hope by the resurrection of Jesus Christ from the dead, to an inheritance incorruptible, and undefiled, and that fadeth not away, reserved in heaven for you.” –  Peter 1:3-4

Reflection Questions: What small deaths and resurrections do you know daily in your own life? How have you been surprised by God’s promise and purpose for you in resurrection? How are you invited by God to use the experience of your struggles to walk with others in theirs toward new hope?

Harry today celebrates over eight years of sobriety and feels like a new man, growing more every day to know God’s purpose for him on earth. He grew up in Savannah, Georgia and now lives with his wife in Houston, where he went on his first ISP retreat. He has now been an ISP witness and is very involved as a volunteer and facilitator on the team. Last year he was invited to participate in ISP’s Network Facilitator Retreat in Cleveland, and he is now excited to grow deeper in the ISP network. He enjoys his new and growing brotherhood within the ISP Houston team and network. He wants everyone to know that he is a diehard Pittsburgh Steelers fan.