For God so loves the world that He gave His one and only Son, that whoever believes in Him shall not perish but have everlasting life. John 3:16 …
Christ is faithful as the Son over God’s house. And we are in His house, if indeed we hold firmly to our confidence and the hope in which we glory. Hebrews 3:6
Carry each other’s burdens, and in this way you will fulfill the law of Christ. Galatians 6:2
One of the biggest lessons we learn in life, about life, is that once we have faith the biggest challenge – in many ways – is simply seeing that faith through to the end.
To the end. To the “end” of eternity. To the end of our earthly lives. To the end of the current trial that we’re experiencing. To the end, without giving up hope, or without quitting in the middle and giving ourselves over to fleshly remedies, or without allowing ourselves the seemingly understandable but nonetheless faithless luxury of feeling sorry for ourselves. To the end without losing our confidence…….our confidence in Him.
Oh, and while we’re doing that for ourselves, we’ll have opportunity to help others in really crucial, vital, maybe even life altering ways, to not lose their confidence in God, either. Maybe three men like those whom I’ll call “Eddie” and “Andy” and Ben (me), and all of whom at one time struggled with addiction to drugs and alcohol.
BEN: Several decades ago, God in His great mercy and grace toward me set me free from drugs and alcohol. I couldn’t stop. It was going to kill me, but when He revealed Himself to me as He really was/is and I actually came to faith in Him, Jesus also healed me of my addiction to drugs and alcohol. Instantly. I’ve never had another drink, and I’ve never again used drugs. Again, I couldn’t stop by myself, so all the glory goes to God.
Now there were other things in my life, as well, things of which He healed me but which I also needed to “walk out of” in faith. They weren’t “instant” or easy. They were hard, and through these combined experiences, I learned that (a) God can do instant, permanent miracles, and that (b) faith is only faith when it is tested and exercised, and so there are many times in life when we need to “walk out of the valley of the shadow of death” of addiction with Jesus.
I don’t long to drink or use drugs, just so you know. I’m not a “dry drunk.” He has truly made me free. And in that I am daily aware that I had nothing to do with that, it has become one of the most valuable things to me in my entire life. That liberty that God gave me through Christ, wholly undeserved and completely given, is something that is with me daily, dear ones. The possession of that liberty and of never going back and taking another drink or using drugs ever again is the only thing that I have ever done perfectly in my entire life. So far. So please pray for me.
Fast forward a number of decades, and I’m on staff at a Christ-centered recovery house for men in Sidney, Ohio, seeking to reach out to other men who are “still there.” Men who were other “Bens,” just like I was back then. I would purposely come in on Monday mornings to share with the men because I remember how Mondays usually bore the greatest failures and regrets when I was addicted. I want to be there with my brothers in bondage on that morning, to love them, and encourage them, and to help them to not lose their confidence in God.
It was there, at that recovery house that I met Eddie and Andy. I came to know their hearts. I loved them simply because they were lovable. Yeah, it was covered up by bondage to their drugs and alcohols of choice and bad decisions and lives that no longer had jobs or cars or relationships with their families…….but they were wonderful men “under there” and I loved them.
I came to realize that this is the way that Jesus had looked at me so many years before. He looked beneath all my drugs and alcohols of choice and my bad decisions and my damaged relationships and my absolute lack of confidence, and God allowed Him to see the “me” that God had created me to be; someone that could be wonderful and lovable if only Jesus would help.
Turns out that Jesus wanted to help. And He did. And now I knew that I needed to tell other men, men like Eddie and Andy, about how much confidence could be placed in Him to help if we could just believe.
ANDY: I firmly believe that Andy’s going to make it, too. He was skeptical of the idea of faith and Christ at first, but he was willing to listen and try give it one genuine try. As a result, God – not me or any program or any church – personally convinced Andy that He was real, that He loved him, and that He had sent His Son Christ Jesus to die for his sins and then to, upon Eddie’s repentance from sin and his profession of faith in Christ, walk all the way Home with him. Andy asks for Jesus’ help all the time, and when he is in trouble, he also calls me for help. Andy’s making it. So far. So please pray for him.
EDDIE: But Eddie is gone. Eddie didn’t make it. He believed for a time, passionately so. But then things got hard. Not too hard, but more hard than Eddie was willing to bear in faith. And so he went back. He went back to the old ways by which he used to navigate through life. Eddie’s mind took him back, but his body couldn’t handle it. He stopped asking Jesus for help, and in his most desperate hour, he purposely didn’t call me or anyone else, either. Eddie died out there, alone. So in spite of the fact that God is full of grace, ready to pardon as long as we have breath, and invested in our succeeding at this thing called faith in God through Christ, Eddie won’t be there. And it breaks God’s and my heart.
While we come to Christ alone and no one else can do it for us, we will never make it home alone. We need to continue to actively depend upon Him to the very end, and to actively and humbly call upon a small group of trusted ones that God will bring into our lives to help us Home. We need to hurt with other Bens, we need to laugh with other Bens, and we need to be willing to pay the price required to inconveniently love other Bens.
When we help the Bens in our lives to make it Home, we’re helping ourselves to make it home.
So go find a Ben. They need God, and they need God in you.
The writer is a bishop in The International Church Network, a network of 400-500 churches in North America, Africa, Asia, and the Pacific.