I’ve shared my testimony in an earlier post so I won’t belabor that point. But what I do want to share is the power in the story that each of us in addiction (and the ones who love us) has the power to save lives. We all possess the ability to help rescue others from the bondage of addiction. Yes, it is Jesus Christ who does the work, but our stories can reach out and grab their attention, opening their eyes to the power of the savior who loves us.
The Power of a story
There is a reason why the Bible is, without a doubt, the best selling book of all time. The Guinness Book of World Records (which correctly categorizes the Bible as NON-fiction) shows there is no equal to the bible.
Although it is impossible to obtain exact figures, there is little doubt that the Bible is the world’s best-selling and most widely distributed book. A survey puts the number of bibles printed at more than 5 billion. It has been reported that 800 million copies of the red-covered booklet Quotations from the Works of Mao Zedong (The Bible’s closest competitor) have been printed.
The Bible is so powerful not only because it contains the truth, but because of the stories it shares. I have often said that the Bible goes out of its way to show the flaws and failures of the heroes of our faith. It doesn’t hold those men and women up as holy, perfect examples, whose walk we can never attain. It shows us that The Giants of The Judeo-Christian faith are flawed, broken people just like me. And it shows that with God’s help, I too can be a better man than I am. I can be the man God intended me to be, joyful and complete, satisfied and fulfilled.
There is a reason Jesus taught with stories
Going through the Gospels, we do not usually see Jesus breaking off into deep theological discussion per se. What we see is Jesus telling stories. There are several reasons why Jesus did this, but the reason I’m focused on is that people can relate to stories. They can understand the concepts shared in them. They remember them and can refer back to them as needed. Stories are also easy to recall and share with others. The power to break addiction resides within our stories.
My story is unique, but it is similar to so many others as well
All of the intimate details in my story are unique to my story. Nobody else’s story will be exactly like mine. But the story of addiction, in general, can be very similar from addict to addict. We become addicted. We hurt and abuse those we love. We use more to cover the hurt and pain. We break relationships further. We struggle with legal issues. We get clean. We relapse. Finally, we make it to The Home of Grace and find the freeing power of Jesus Christ. We then have the opportunity to go and live a clean, sober, happy, free life. Every addict can relate, at least in spirit, to another’s story of addiction. However, the details of our specific stories are what form bonds of trust and unity between specific addicts, and ultimately help draw others out of bondage.
Our specific stories have the power to draw others out of addiction—to give hope
Former professional baseball superstar, Darryl Strawberry has a story of being at the very top and losing it all in a battle with drugs. That story reaches athletes and very successful people.
Another guy has a story of being a functional alcoholic who was very good at his job. He received promotion after promotion. He was always advancing. But he received DUI after DUI. He’d lose one job and instantly be offered another one with a different company because his skill set was so sought after. He was functional, and in his mind didn’t have a problem. After 11 DUI’s he ended up at the Home of Grace and has over a year of sobriety. That story relates to the functional addict.
I spent my entire life, as a young man, not drinking or doing drugs. I was a very “good kid.” I got hooked under a doctor’s care. I spiraled out of control and devastated a great many people who care about me. Next week will make 11 months clean and sober for me.
A friend of mine had 20 years of sobriety when he relapsed, for almost two years. He now has four years of sobriety under his belt.
Another guy was in and out of jail using and selling before He got right.
Another guy was sexually abused and used everything he could to cover that pain. He relapsed time and time again, making his way through 9 rehabs before he made it to the Home of Grace and got the help he needed.
If I tried to talk to a guy who uses because of sexual abuse in his past, I wouldn’t have much success. I haven’t been through what he’s been through. I don’t understand his hurt and pain. But another former addict does. His story is powerful, and in a God-ordained encounter, he has the ability to offer hope, healing, and restoration because of his story that others cannot offer. All of our stories have the ability to reach SOMEBODY.
While at the Home of Grace, we had a 17-year-old girl come and give her testimony. She shared about her father, who was a drug addict. She told us when she was six months old he left her at a crack house as collateral when he picked up his drugs so he could go get money to pay for the drugs he just took. Who knows what happened to that six-month-old baby girl? When she was 12, he took her to another crack house, got high, and forgot she was there and left her. While she was there, she was raped repeatedly by three drugs addicts/dealers multiple times. Around age 15 she found her father died from an overdose in their house. Her story was powerful. It not only reached a room full of addicts from a child’s perspective, but it also offered hope that even somebody as broken as she was could find healing and wholeness in Jesus Christ. And that story offers hope to all.
If we can reach even one person, why on earth would we NOT share our story?
Yes, I know it can be extremely uncomfortable to relay the intimate details of our story. I know it puts us in a very vulnerable place. I liken it to the movie Hacksaw Ridge. If you haven’t seen it, it is, in my opinion, a great metaphor for reaching those still in addiction. A medic, with no weapon, went back onto a battlefield for over 24 hours, alone, under naval bombardment and surrounded by Japanese soldiers and extricates 75 other soldiers who were presumed dead. He was vulnerable, putting himself back in the fight praying “Help me get one more, Lord.” each time before he went back into the hell of war after saving a soldier, to try and save “just one more.”
We as people set free from the bondage of addiction understand better than anybody the hell that those still struggling with addiction are living in. If I won’t share my story to help save them who will?
Matthew 5:14-16 – “You are the light of the world. A city set on a hill cannot be hidden. Nor do people light a lamp and put it under a basket, but on a stand, and it gives light to all in the house. In the same way, let your light shine before others, so that they may see your good works and give glory to your Father who is in heaven.
Let us hold our stories up as beacons to those stranded in the darkness that they might see that there IS a way out, and be drawn to Jesus Christ through the details of our story.
My prayer is that our attitude will be that of Isaiah:
Isaiah 6: 8-9 – And I heard the voice of the Lord saying, “Whom shall I send, and who will go for us?” Then I said, “Here I am! Send me.” And he said, “Go, and say to this people.
If you’re willing, go and tell the people the good things The Lord has done for you. And see all He will do through you. Thank You, Lord.