And when Jesus heard it, he said to them, “Those who are well have no need of a physician, but those who are sick. I came not to call the righteous, but sinners.”
I am a bit behind on my writing so I will give you a peek into my last week and I will write from my heart. It isn’t going to be formal and full of scripture, but it will be a piece for you take away and think about.
If I were in a room full of people, and I were talking to you all directly, I would probably ask how many of you have been affected by addiction, whether it is in your own life, or by proxy of someone else. I bet a lot of hands would shoot up, either that or they wouldn’t and you would sit back and quietly wish you had the courage to raise your hand.
This past week has been tough one for me. This time last year I lost my oldest big brother from complications associated with addiction. I know that I am not the first, nor will I be the last person to experience death, or sudden death. The experience itself had me clinging to Jesus in a way I had never had to before in my life. I have experienced the loss of a parent, but it didn’t feel like this. This time it felt different. Why? Because I had placed my earthly hopes and expectations on a situation that I couldn’t control and none of it panned out the way I had envisioned it. I saw my brother getting well, and going off to treatment which he was to going to do a few weeks later, and suddenly from out of the blue those ideas were shattered. He had passed suddenly in the night time, and that was the end of the life he had been given and now here I sit…writing to you about my big brother Rick in hopes that it might speak to your heart.
In my life addiction goes far deeper than just my big brother. It has its clenches on my entire family tree and it has stolen the lives of many of my relatives including both of my biological parents, and more recently two “sisters” (cousins) who both had children and families. I also know that I am not alone in this and that there are still many more people out there who have stories similar to mine. Many of them do not know the love of Christ, but there also many that live inside the church. Because the church is such a large body of people, it feels scary to even imagine speaking out about what you are going through. It might feel like people would judge you, or not want to spend time with you because of what is going on, or perhaps you are afraid about the repercussions of telling somebody else. I want you to know that this is a lie that the enemy is feeding you. It is not true and I will attest to it. I know that because I was once like you. I had these things going on in my life and I dared not tell a soul. It was a painful journey for me to be taken for a ride on a train that was heading for complete destruction. I want you to know that if you are feeling isolated, that there are other people out there who are going through the same thing and that you are not alone. I want you to know that the struggle you are battling right now…is precisely why Jesus Christ ate with the poor and the broken. This is why He came down and saved us all through the washing of His blood and the resurrection of His body. There is freedom in Christ.
I often felt like before my brother passed away, that I would get a chance to pray with him one more time, to bless him as he left for Teen Challenge. It never happened. I plead for you to have that experience, or to offer that experience to your loved one. To be able to just place your hand upon their shoulders and say “Oh Father…take this life and make it Yours…Keep this person safe, and shower Your love and Your mercy upon them God. Show them that they are Yours and through You, there is strength to overcome. Put a hedge of protection around them and guide them as they walk through the darkest of valleys Father. In Jesus Name…I pray…Amen”. The power of prayer is amazing. The book of James says “Confess your sins from one to another and pray for each other so that you may be healed”(James 5:16)
If there were more confessions and more prayer for healing and more support amongst the masses, then there would be a thriving recovery community in every church. The sad part is is that there isn’t because of shame, because of fear and because of feelings of unworthiness. The enemy does not want you to experience the healing and the freedom associated with sharing life on life’s terms with other people. He wants you to feel alone, forgotten and hopeless. This keeps you far from God and stunts your growth. This is what Satan wants and it is the opposite of God’s best for your life.
And just as with anything pro-active for God, there is a deep rooted fear. I am sure that this is merely a human response to change, or perhaps it is again the enemy doing what he does to keep us close. The bible tells us to rebuke our brothers and sisters and to bring them back to the Lord if they stray…and yet we don’t? James 5:19-20 says “19 My brothers and sisters, if one of you should wander from the truth and someone should bring that person back, 20 remember this: Whoever turns a sinner from the error of their way will save them from death and cover over a multitude of sins.”
And all the while the God our Father is correcting us through scripture, His promise is there also: “If we confess our sins, he is faithful and just to forgive us our sins and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness.” 1 John 1:9. This is just the tip of the iceberg. There are many more passages and scriptures I could point you to that would bring about the same conclusion however, I encourage you to look on your own. Read your bible, and know God’s word so that if there is a seed of doubt in your mind, that the truth will send it from you.
And for others who’s sin issue isn’t alcohol or drugs…Psalm 139:23-24 says “Search me, God, and know my heart; test me and know my anxious thoughts.24 See if there is any offensive way in me, and lead me in the way everlasting.”. Friend, there is nothing hidden under the sun. God see’s your heart and knows you. There is nothing hidden from Him Almighty. Not a thought, not a deed and certainly no wickedness. Maybe you watch impure things on the internet, or pop an extra painkiller because you think it’s not a big deal, or you spend your money unwisely too often, or your eyes linger just a little bit too long on another who isn’t your spouse, or you put your husband(or wife), your children, your job, your materialism, your image, or your schedule AHEAD of Him who created you and because of this, you are floundering in your walk with God. It might be completely non-existent, or not a priority. Maybe you fail to offer Him praise because you have forgotten His love for you….if that is you, then test your ways. Come back to the Lord. Your spot was never taken and He has always loved you. You are of value to the Lord, You are His child, and He beckons you near, and waits upon you with an open lap for you to sit. If you are falling and it feels hopeless, or unbearable, or perhaps the sacrifice of giving up the issue feels enormous…then know that there is another way….that there is strength in Jesus. He can help you, but you must let him help you first. He loves you and He can train you for a different mission. When shame creeps in & the enemy whispers “Nay Nay..you need not help”, remember: ALL have sinned and fallen short of the glory of God. (Romans 3:23).
And for you my dear sweet friend…the one who’s loved one is hurting in a way that is hurting you. Love them in the best way, and be strong. Be strong for God our Father is with you. He has a plan for you and for them. God’s word says that you can have steadfastness, boldness, courage, and that you will be upheld in times of trial. Know that nothing in this world, no flesh, no word can come against you and harm you. God will establish you. He loves you and knows your circumstance. Tell someone. Please…do not keep this sorrow in your heart alone to fester. Tell someone and ask for help. The simple act of getting it out is like letting the flood gates open. It is healthy, it is good and it is needed in order to heal. You need healing my friend and Jesus is the way.
As a way to get you to open your bibles, I simply ask you to read 1 Corinthians 10:13…this was my brothers verse…he felt it was for Him, so maybe you will feel it is for you too.
All my love and my encouragement…
*Please share this and pass it along to people who you feel it applies to. I wish someone had shared something like this with me many years ago. If you are someone who needs an encouraging word or prayer-email firstname.lastname@example.org.
RIP @>- RWF-(Oct 20/61-Feb 25/13)
RIP @>- MK & CK
Father, shine your light into the corners of our hearts. Speak to us this week. What have I placed at my core? Show me if it isn’t you. Send me a friend that I can trust. If need to escape my current situation lead me to safety. Thank you for not leaving my side. Help me to remember that even in the darkest night, you are still there beside me. Help me to let go of the things I can’t change, and correct the things that need to be corrected to pull me closer to you. In Jesus name, Amen.