We’ve been hearing stories on Thursday nights. A couple of weeks ago we heard from people whose lives have been dramatically impacted by substance abuse. A sergeant from the LMPD shared the sobering news that 84 people have died from heroin overdoses since the beginning of the year. He shared the pain he feels meeting with families who have lost children and how deeply he feels that pain himself. This sorrow has no exclusive zip code and is being lived out in every neighborhood.
Then others, who are now in recovery, shared their stories of loss and hope. A husband and wife shared how they found their way back from a very dark period. A young man in his early 30’s, who was addicted to methamphetamines, was manufacturing it and selling it, and who went to prison, told his story too. He’s been sober for a decade and has built a wonderful new life. He has a great job, children, is coaching little league, and helps others trapped by this terrible disease.
All these stories of recovery had one common thread. Their lives began to turn around when they were at their darkest moment and surrendered every part of their life to God. Instead of continually trying to save themselves from their addictions they handed their recovery over to God. But that new life did not come in an instant. The consequences of their actions were not removed. They began working the steps in a 12 step program. There were lots of ups and downs. It was one step of the time by the grace of God. Slowly they emerged from the darkness. Then helped others who are lost.
One of the participants said, “my new life depends on me giving away what I have found.” Another said, “there’s nothing more joyful than being a channel for God’s grace.” He now facilitates a Bible study in a state penitentiary.
These stories reminded us that no matter how bleak life may be, there is always hope. My eyes were wet with sadness, joy and inspiration, and with thankfulness to God. It’s also wonderful to be a church that opens its arms to its neighbors. To be a church that’s desperate to share the love of God with people where they are.
I’ll see you this weekend,