Restoration or Resolution? (Part 2)

After having been gone for such a length of time, I might need to update you, my dear reader, as to what this post is all about because you may be lost if you are just now dropping by.  Just step back a day, and get caught up on my trip to ancient Thessalonica.

For those that follow faithfully:  I so love you!!!!!  Thank you! Thank you!  You give me affirmation and bring my life such joy to know that someone cares enough to hang in there with me.

a wild hair?

a wild hair?

Also, you may never know what wild hair will grab hold of me, and what I will then put on this little blog.

But in the meantime…

Have you been to Thessalonica yet?   Or in other words, did you read the books of Thessalonians?  Does it mean restoration or resolution to you?

“Brothers and sisters, we do not want you to be uninformed about those who sleep in death, so that you do not grieve like the rest of mankind, who have no hope.”  1 Thessalonians 4:13

My hope was and is in Christ Jesus, God the Son.  The fact that I had lost someone I dearly loved in death and, quite literally, lost my children to trauma or illness or addiction, was overwhelming.  I have intimate knowledge of the word despair.  Even though we as Christians always have hope in Christ, our physical and mental well-being does not always recognize that.  The brain is such an awesome organ, and when it gets sick, the devastation is tremendous.  The fact that we are Christians has nothing to do with the physiology of brain chemistry.  And I am appalled at those Christians who seem to think a person has control over that physiology;  then, through their own ignorance, will condemn the actions of the very people who need help the most.  In my embarrassment, however, I have to admit that I have been one of those Christians, making judgments, condemning, seeing the sin or act instead of the person.  Restoration or ResolutionGod and I have had many, many talks about that; He has heard my cries of repentance and sorrow and self-loathing over those things; He has in His graciousness made me whole again.

“So when we could stand it no longer, we thought it best to be left by ourselves in Athens.  We sent Timothy, who is our brother and co-worker in God’s service in spreading the gospel of Christ, to strengthen and encourage you in your faith, so that no one would be unsettled by these trials.  For you know quite well that we are destined for them.”  1 Thessalonians 3:1-3

the pureness of fresh snow

the pureness of fresh snow

So back in 2002, in the dead of winter, in a place called the Eagle’s Nest, on a farm heavily covered in fresh snow, I clung to the hope God promised me: to strengthen and encourage me.  Paul and Gretel Haglin owned that farm; two beautiful people full of mercy and grace and service.  Their ministry with this farm, this place of refuge and renewal, was only one of the many ways they have served God throughout their lives.  They allowed me to stay here, alone with God, occasionally with them in order that they might  strengthen and encourage me, letting me walk the trails they had made and sit at the benches they had placed throughout the 200-acre farm.

“And give relief to you who are troubled.”  1 Thessalonians 5:24

“May our Lord Jesus Christ himself and God our Father, who loved us and by His grace gave us eternal encouragement and good hope, encourage your hearts and strengthen you in every good deed and word.”  2 Thessalonians 2: 16-17

And God my Father, the Lord Jesus Christ, himself, gave me promises and told me how to live and breathe again, how to put one foot in front of the other to continue the life that was still before me.  He  showed me how it was He who first had cried in a loud voice of sorrow “WHY?”  He showed me how the world had changed from the beauty of His making to the ugliness of sin.  He filled me with the knowledge of His great sorrow when the children He loved turned from Him to choose their own way, the opposite of His instruction.  As I sat on the bench crying to God, “Why?” for I had prayed, my friends had prayed, churches had prayed for the healing for my son, a healing that did not come, God opened my eyes to the very beginning of time.

tracks of God's tears

tracks of God’s tears

He let me hear his cry of anguish and pain over the deception of His children, a cry so loud and sorrowful that all earth mourned with Him.   The earth trembled and pushed outward in its effort to bellow; it sagged inward with its great sadness.  God’s tears fell, filling those low spots, rushing across the earth, imparting His sorrow.

Those two whom God loved, the two who walked daily with Him and enjoyed His fellowship, his friendship, had opened Pandora’s Box and let sin in.  And in it came.  Rushing with its white hot wind, scorching the earth, burning the two as well.  I could see the plants turn from their beauty as sin rushed by, now reaching out with thorned fingers to catch hold and entangle the unsuspecting, just as sin had taught it to do. Sin hurried on, creating suspicion in the once docile animals, causing them to turn on the two, putting fear between them and the two they once called friend.   Death began.  The change was too great, the sin ever-present.  Beauty destroyed by decay.

God’s sorrow was more than I could bear for it overshadowed the grief that had overcome me.  No, I was not the first to ask the question Why.  God, Himself, was.

But as is His way, He comforted me, filled me with His presence, His greater-than-sorrow love.  The kind of love that makes the eagle soar, that causes it to rise above the storm.  The kind of love that sustains and carries and says, “You can do this.”

He then sent me back down the hill to make the call I had been dreading to make.

(to be continued)

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Thoughts of an addict

Don’t tell me what I’ve done.

You don’t know how I feel.

What am I even capable of?

I will steal, but will I kill?

That test has not presented itself

And for this I do not know

But I warn you, anyone this concerns,

Don’t try me; through me anger flows.

I do what I say;

I say what I mean.

I inherited crazy;

It’s all in my genes.

So smile and laugh with me!

I’m broken inside

Twisted and tied.

I see your face

Torturing myself.

I get lost in the pain

Forgetting what is real.

My thoughts turn to hate

My memory fades

Yet I still feel you.

All the hurt I endure

I am cold and insecure.

I feel warm when I’m with you.

Please save me.

Just take it all away.

I don’t wanna stay

Here anymore.

A Whole New Look at Drug Rehab

If your family has ever dealt with a loved one who is addicted to alcohol or drugs, then my heart goes out to you; my compassion and empathy is profound.  An addict will sell themselves, give up their children, cut off ties with family, and wander from place to place or live in the streets and alleyways.  Their thoughts have been in drug mode for so long they don’t know how to think normal thoughts anymore.  They don’t know how to “pull themselves up by the bootstraps” and get clean.

It’s not because they don’t want to.  Their self-loathing is immense; their pain from the disappointment of losing themselves and sometimes their families is deep.  The uphill climb to “clean” is a monstrous mountain to them that seems so gigantic that they fail before they even begin the first ascent.

Does the drug abuse come from undiagnosed mental illness?  Did it begin with casual use as a young person and then became the demon-clawed monkey on their backs?  Was it some horrible experience that first drew them to the escape from real life into the fantasy life of drugs or alcohol?

The reason isn’t important.  The overcoming is.  The ability to live the rest of their lives without the use of drugs or alcohol is what matters, not the whys.

Teen Challenge

Teen Challenge is a place for these lost souls, these hopeless people, to be saved.  Quite literally.  Here is their mission statement:

“To provide youth, adults and families with an effective and comprehensive Christian faith-based solution to life-controlling drug and alcohol problems in order to become productive members of society. By applying biblical principles, Teen Challenge endeavors to help people become mentally-sound, emotionally-balanced, socially-adjusted, physically-well, and spiritually-alive.”

It is not for those who aren’t ready to climb up out of the pit, nor is it for those looking for an easy road to sobriety.  This program is the hardest thing any person will probably ever do in their lifetime for themselves.  From day one there is no smoking, no foul talk, no talk of the street, no disrespecting the counselors… the list goes on and on.  From day one there is a work ethic in place, a hygiene standard, an accountability practiced… just a few of the things used to build self-worth.

The program is about one year and can be all the way to two years.  The men (the median age is 35) sleep in bunk beds with their clothes and shoes and personal items neatly in place, and those beds made up military style of the mornings which begins around 5:30 or so.  They have work details, jobs in the community, for which they are not paid.  They are immersed in Bible study and surrounded by encouraging people.  They are required to dress in accordance with the dress code and go to church regularly.

This program is not for sissies.  This program works.

Prison costs about $23,000 a year to house an inmate; Teen Challenge is less than half that.  My question to judges, both state and federal, is why are you not utilizing this program?  The fact that it is based on voluntary entry and the person is able to leave at any time is always the excuse used when sentencing an addict to prison instead of Teen Challenge.  But that is no issue in reality.  If  the person leaves,  then it’s off to prison.

The rigorous routine at Teen Challenge serves only to enhance the lives of those who stay, creating persons with skills and abilities to stay sober.  The atmosphere in a prison serves only to degrade even further an already beaten man/woman, offering nothing more than a housing unit until they are released.  Being ordered to Teen Challenge is a win-win situation.  The offender makes it through the program and lives a productive life:  society wins.  The offender leaves the program and is then sent to prison: society still wins.

Why not give that person a chance?  Why not see if this person can be in the statistical group of graduates, as they are called, who never go back to drugs?  Why not?

Here is the web site to learn more of Teen Challenge: http://teenchallengeusa.com/