Here is an interesting verse familiar to many of you. “What do you benefit if you gain the whole world but lose your own soul? Is there anything worth more than your soul?” (Matthew 16:26). Not trying to take away from God’s Word, but to understand it in a different way, could we consider: “What do you benefit if you lose the whole world but gain your own soul? Is there anything worth more than your own soul?”
In a juxtapose to that familiar scripture, His Way and men who are recovering from addiction have lost everything and now are undertaking a spiritual journey to restore their own soul. I always liked that word “juxtapose” and wanted to use it sometime. This seems appropriate.
At His Way men have not only lost families, jobs, respect, and livelihoods, but they’ve also lost all their stuff. This scripture causes me to pause and think that maybe we could love stuff more than our eternal salvation and a life which is immeasurably more precious. Wouldn’t you agree?
Many of us would never dream of just giving up our stuff or scaling back on stuff so that we could have a greater spiritual life that we know or once knew was a better choice because we trusted in Jesus more than anything, even ourselves.
Thinking that now in reverse, by losing everything including stuff, men come to Jesus with open hands and not holding on with one hand to life’s somewhat deceitful meaningless riches or stuff.
An Old Testament scripture may present some more insight: “after all that happened, Job fell to the ground and worshiped.” This was the Job of Job 1:20. He had lost everything, including children, farm and stuff. Then he remembered his God, then worshiped.
Consider that there will be a time when a drug addicted man or woman is at their weakest whether influenced by peers, by curiosity, by experimentation, by emotion or codependency desires, or, by long-term dependency of medications. This brings everyone affected by the drug addiction to an unfortunate dilemma of devastating family dynamics: distrust, blame, guilt, hidden secrets, judgmental attitudes. (Even broadening the span of relationships of the extended family – mother, father, siblings, aunts and uncles, grandparents, to close friends, and church members.)
You might say that person is “addicted to hell.” In other words, their body has been given over to the cravings and desires of something that can take their life…an earthly life! In this precarious, although devastating sickness, many people have encountered a life-path altering “burning bush” pause of accountability. And, either by a cry for help out of despair, ordered to mandated state-sponsored services, or seeking a reputable private organization, rescue is demanded. Many people eventually realize a need for treating and restoring physical, emotional, and mental health through a long process of medical therapies and even essential family interventions.
If you are sympathetic to their needs, you would agree all this is good and are quick to advocate strongly to make this support free to everyone with this disease. And the reason is that addiction is a public problem and a serious issue in our society today. How much of a problem? It may not be obvious. Alcoholism became recognized as “treatable as a disease” in 1956 and substance abuse in 1966. Statistically, every addict’s life affects 10 people. Simply defined, an addict is one who depends on some stimulant, chemical, or brain altering “help” to make them feel better. You probably know people who fit that description. Total addicts at this writing in 2020 are numbered 23.5 million. When you multiply those factors, a significant population of the United States is touched in some way. Sadly, a striking number of 115 lives die each day with opioid addiction or 41,975 in a year.
How are we affected? Have you ever been asked for help or a handout? Have you known someone with PTSD? This is not just a wartime disorder; it affects many, many others. Have you known someone that’s had so much pain the doctor has given them opioids and now they’re hooked? Have you known someone who said their father, mother, or other family member was an alcoholic? Have you known someone who was traumatized by rape, a significant and terrifying event like robbery at gun point, been in a serious bodily accident, or a weather catastrophe that left a lifelong emotional impact on them?
The recent years have become the pill era. When we go to the doctor for help, we demand, “give me something for my pain, my stress, my lack of sleep!” Appeased, we leave, happy to have a prescription that relieves our pains, aches, and sometime our worries.
When more help is needed, people turn to their own self-medications such as alcohol and drugs.
If you’re beginning to understand my line of thought, we’ll get back to the main theme of soul-saving or keeping our soul from being lost. There is a heavenly welcome to all this! “If you return to me, I will restore you so you can continue to serve me.” (Jeremiah 15:19 NLT)
There are other types of treatment programs than those I’ve discussed.
In the company of those in the shared soul-saving practice and drug addiction recovery, there are peer services including programs that are peer-operated, peer-partnerships and peer employees. These service centers have peer staff who have struggled with becoming clean with sobriety themselves or who are passionate to assist in recovery efforts. Today they’re becoming to be known as recovery coaches.
Support groups such as Alcoholics Anonymous, Al-Anon for families, and other non-residential programs such as Celebrate Recovery and MRT-Moral Reconation Therapy – are self-help groups with faith-based counseling for interventions and maintenance for the addicted. MRT is a cognitive-behavioral treatment system that leads to enhanced moral reasoning, better decision making, and more appropriate behavior.
Alcoholism and drug addictions have become “A Family Disease” as previously described. It’s become more personal and heart-engaging, rather than going on a distant mission, where we lovingly spend some charitable time once a year, sweat-labor building and constructing, feeding the needy, treating the sick with medical care, and sharing the Gospel.
I hope I have opened your eyes to now clearly see that addictions have come to our front door. Drug and alcohol abuse and their addictions can no longer be our little family secret because it has come out in living color on the big screen of life among us. No, addictions cannot be ignored, covered for, excused, and hoped for the best. We all have seen it as part of our family dynamics of culture, religion, economics, age and birth order, disease and physical health.
Long-term treatment and spiritual growth development can be obtained for loved ones at His Way where volunteers are welcomed who have a passion to help and interact with the residents’ recovery. Whole-person treatment and soul-based therapies are made for the long-term, even eternal.
With such an extensive impact of spiritual and physical sickness on our society, drug and alcohol addiction have now become not only a church responsibility and mission, but more closely a personal and family mission. Being aware and knowledgeable of warning signs and resources are the first responders’ best tools. Someone with Recovery Coach experience is nearly always close by and restoration to the Lord of Comfort and Peace is the perfect answer.
The Lord says, “Now, let’s settle the matter. You are stained red with sin, but I will wash you as clean as snow. Although your stains are deep red, you will be as white as wool. If you will only obey me, you will eat the good things the land produces. But if you defy me, you are doomed to die. I, the Lord, have spoken.” (Isaiah 1:18-20 – Good News Translation)
Alan is a volunteer counselor and teacher at His Way Recovery Center.