Tell Me Why, Tell Me Why…
Today I would like to start my blog off with two stories – two true stories that will hopefully share some simple truths: A number of years ago, a teenager became homeless, drug addicted and desperate. He did anything and everything to survive. He ended up with a criminal record; sick and almost dead. This young man accepted Christ; was discipled; went onto college; got married and is being used by God today to help others coming out of his old lifestyle. Another young man, was homeless, drug addicted and desperate as well. While in his addiction, he also did everything he could to survive. He, too, ended up with a criminal record; sick and almost dead. At his lowest point, this man accepted Christ; was discipled; went onto college; was married; and was being used by God to help others who had come out of his old lifestyle. But now, this second young man is back out there, deep into his addiction; is homeless; has lost his family; and is facing multiple criminal charges. WHY? Why did one young man stay on track and the other get derailed? Was the second young man insincere? Was he living a double life? I really don’t think so, I really think he started out very sincere… So WHY?
At Teen Challenge we have the privilege of seeing so many turn their lives around and live productive lives. We also endure the sorrow of seeing some go back into the bondage of addiction and negative lifestyles. We also see the ultimate outcomes of these negative life styles – death. In my tenure as a Teen Challenge director I have done way too many funerals of people who chose to reopen the doors of addiction. They swallowed the lie that they could somehow “handle” just a little bit. That “little bit” leading them to losing everything, even their lives. So, what makes them go back? Why do some keep going and others decide to stop dead in their tracks? Before I venture even the most general of possible answers, I need to state that there are no one-size-fits-all answers. Each person is an individual. Each person comes with his or her own personality; life experiences; etc. But their are some universal red flags that seem to shout out “danger, danger”. I want to share these red flags by asking some pointed questions – never to judge anyone, but to allow each of us to take an honest look at things in our own lives; and also to be aware of danger signs for those we love:
- How balanced are our lives? An unbalanced life leads to incredible stress. This stress unchecked can lead a person to wanting to go to negative things for comfort.
- Are we, still the “good soil” spoken of in Scripture? Are we still that soft, weed-free soil – open to the wooing of our Savior, to His Word, His Service? Or, have we allowed our hearts to become hardened; full of “weeds”; seeded by the cares of this life?
- Are our knees no longer calloused by prayer; and are our bibles only dusted off for show?
- Are our appetites changing toward a worldly palate because we are slowly being jaded by the world’s standards?
- Have we allowed our souls to become poisoned by bitterness; unresolved hurts; and disappointments?
- Are we purposely testing the polluted waters of sin – seeing how close we can get to the edge without falling in?
- Do we have positive support systems, or are we riding with the negative-nannies?
The list could go on… but I think we get the picture. For each of us the reason for going back to our personal folly can be different. We will all have a diversity of excuses; rationalizations; and justifications; but the bottom line, we have allowed choices and circumstances to negatively affect our relationship with the Lord. So what is the solution? As simplistic as it may sound, we need to do our first works over! Get back to basics! Get back on our faces before God! Slow down and examine what we are and aren’t doing! Humble ourselves – do whatever it takes. August 19th I will have forty-three years clean of drugs and alcohol, but I would be a fool to think I couldn’t fall! Also, I may tout my “sobriety”, but have I replaced my drug of choice for other things? Things like a thirst for power, or the praise of man… Do I stay busy so I don’t have to face my own personal pain? Am I now allowing “socially acceptable” sins in my life that I would have never allowed before?
As I said earlier, I have seen people do some amazing things! I have also seen people take some incredibly deadly falls. And I have also seen people who were once on fire for the Lord become lukewarm at best. I want to see people walking in their God given authority and their God given victory – never walking blindly into the traps laid out by the enemy of our souls. Our first line of defense against falling prey to the enemy’s schemes is self-examination – making sure our lives align with the Word of God; making sure our relationship with the Lord is our top priority.