Tuesday, August 24, 2010
Drug Addiction Could Save Your Life
Last Sunday, I was attending my monthly Triple L (Ladies Loving Life) meeting when I recalled a sermon I'd heard a couple of years ago at church. The minister, dynamic and spellbinding, had us hanging on to his every word. Interesting enough, though, I can't remember the man's name. How's that for the signs of aging?
With fervor the minister told the congregation the harrowing details of his life in the pulpit. He explained the events that led him to a life of divine service. He told of the difficulties he had had trying to convince his mother to give her life to God and how she had always refused. She didn't say she'd think about it or she'd do it some other time; she said no. There was nothing he could do or say to make her dedicate her life to God or to even walk through the church doors. She wasn't even sure there was a God.
Then he told us how he had taken up the habit of cocaine use. He would snort blow at 8:00 AM, deliver his sermon at 9:00 AM, and perform a baptism at 3:00 PM. Of course, I'm paraphrasing, but you get the point. He was "getting high" in the pulpit. Minister X, as I've affectionately come to know him, tried unsuccessfully to kick his drug addiction on several occasions. He prayed fervently about it and begged God to deliver him from his transgression. He asked God, "What do you want from me?"
Several years into his addiction, alone in the Pastor's Study at his church, he got his answer. That day he did what many drug addicts do, what my aunt (God rest her soul) did: he overdosed. He was rushed to the ER by ambulance. The doctors worked on him for hours until they had done all they could do. The rest was up to him and God. As he lay there, clinging to life, his mother stood over his limp body. Tears fell steadily on the body of the child she'd raised from a boy to man. Bittersweet memories flashed through her mind. Then the heart monitor went dead. There was activity coming from neither his brain nor his heart. His mother, who had never stepped foot into a church a day in her long life, used every ounce of strength she had to raise her tired head toward heaven. She pleaded, "God, if you save my son, I will serve You for the rest of my life." Well, wouldn't you know it? Moments later the monitors jumped back to life and her one and only son took a powerful inhale. He was alive. His mother kept her promise to God and dedicated her life to His service. And her son, the dynamic preacher, never abused drugs again.
Gives you chills, doesn't it? As I retold this story to my fellow Triple L's on Sunday, I became very emotional and close to tears. I'm somewhat of a crybaby these days, so the tears are no big surprise, but I was surprised by how much emotion I felt just telling that story. And it's not even my story.
I guess it just made me realize that you never know for what purpose God will use you. All the time that you're struggling to pay your bills or having a hard time in a relationship, God could be using you to save someone's life. Wow. I just caught another chill. My trials, my heartaches could be a vessel through which God saves another.
Doesn't that make you feel silly about complaining? Everything happens for a reason. Now, personally I think that statement is overused. I sometimes get sick of hearing it, but that doesn't make it any less true. So when you reach an obstacle that is particularly difficult to overcome, try to remember that there is reason for it. True, you may not care at the time and your highest priority may not be looking at the big picture, but try to accept the obstacle for what it is. It may be a learning opportunity. It may be an instrument of change. It may be a chance to let go.
There is always a big picture. God doesn't revel in your suffering. He loves you and He wants you to grow to be the very best possible you. Think of how you are sometimes forced to let your child learn a new skill all by him/herself. My youngest daughter, for example, is extremely shy. She doesn't like speaking to people she doesn't know very well. She doesn't like to read aloud. She doesn't like to order her own food in restaurants. I could explain to people that she's shy, write her teacher a letter asking that she be excused from reading in class, and order her food for her, but that would be doing her a disservice. It's painful for me to stand my ground and tell her that if she wants a grilled chicken sandwich on a kaiser roll without honey mustard or cheese, she has to tell the waitress herself. But I do it anyway because it's the only way she'll learn to do things without expecting others to always be there to help her. It teaches her that she is capable of bravery. It teaches her that she is capable. It's not only painful for me, but for my husband and my other children as well. We all want to help her, but we know it's better that we don't.
There are just some lessons that are better learned on one's own. There are many agonizing times in my life when I've felt abandoned by God only to recall those times later in life and discover the lesson or reason for them. I am so grateful that I've learned those lessons.
When my daughter overcomes some scary obstacle all by herself, I like to playfully point out that the world is still spinning and has not, in fact, come to an end. If your world hasn't ended, that means you have much more living, learning, and possibly life saving to do.
Until next time,
Feed on love; subsist on peace.