Sunday, June 24, 2012

“Overcoming” Addiction"

Our nation is flooded with slogans concerning “kicking the habit” of drug addiction. Three of the most recognized, and perhaps often repeated words in drug abuse/prevention circles are “Just Say No.” Billboards and bumper stickers display one of the most recognizable acronyms of our generation: D.A.R.E. (Drug Abuse Resistance Education). Our children are exposed to those three words and taught classes by those who represent the acronym at a very early age in our public education arena.

So why then are we looking at the truth of the following statistics:
  • ·         Between 149 million and 271 million people worldwide used an illicit drug at least once in 2009; which equals 1 in 20 people aged 15 to 64 who have used an illegal drug.
  • ·         In North America, nearly 11% of the population aged 15 to 64 used cannabis in 2009.
  • ·         Between 14 million and 56 million people aged 15 to 64 worldwide used amphetamine-type stimulants, such as speed and crystal meth.
  • ·         Cocaine use was highest in North America in 2009, and it had 14 million to 21 million users worldwide. 
  • ·         Opioid use, including heroin, had an estimated 12 million to 21 million users globally. The highest rates of use were in the Near and Middle East, where up to 1.4% of the population aged 15 to 64 had tried the drug at least once in 2009. 
  • ·         There are between 11 million and 21 million people who inject drugs worldwide. 

The answer is simple and lies in two radical opposites of the above slogan and acronym. Escaping the death clutch of addition is not about saying no as the slogan urges, it is about saying a resounding “YES!” to accepting Jesus Christ as Savior. And it isn’t about the “resistance” in the acronym, it is about total SURRENDER of your life to that Savior.

And nothing else works. Nothing.

It is now March, 2014. For the past 4 years I have had the opportunity of personally observing the lives of people who are tackling the grip addiction on their lives, through Christ-centered recovery. Prior to 2010, there were periods in my own life where I watched this same process (up close and personal) through secular methods. Here is what I have learned, and will be so bold as to say I know to be TRUE: If Christ is not put in the forefront and made to be Lord (look up the definition of “Lord” so you will not be thinking of the title in a “religious” way) of a person’s life – then SOMETHING ELSE WILL. And if “something else” is “Lord” of a person’s life….that person will follow the dictates of that “Lord.”

Since April of 2010, I have watched the lives of those who said “YES” to the acceptance of Jesus as Savior. I have seen total deliverance from substance abuse and I have watched many men and women go back to their homes with a new identity and the tools for living a “drug-free” life.

And I have seen some fail.

And I have seen those same men and women who were totally delivered from substance abuse, pick that same substance back up, and use again.

So, you are asking if, “just say YES” to Jesus works, then why does what secular society calls “relapse” occur? Back up four paragraphs: “If Christ is not put in the forefront and made to be Lord of a person’s life – then something ELSE will.” And there you have your answer, and the perfect segue to the second “opposite” – SURRENDER instead of “resistance.”

Many times, a former addict who has accepted Christ, is like the seed mentioned in the Bible in Matthew 13 :5: “Some (seed) fell on rocky places, where it did not have much soil. It sprang up quickly, because the soil was shallow.” They are so extremely hyped about their new identity in Christ and their deliverance from substances that they “blossom,” or “spring up” immediately…..but they fail to dig in to the “soil.” Digging into the soil is the “surrender” part. Unless a person totally surrenders, and by “totally” I mean TOTALLY….then there will be no deeply planted seed, and the plant will not have strong roots to hold it against the temptations of the world.

A totally surrendered person will make some lifestyle changes other than tossing addiction out the window. Addition SEEMS to be the biggie here, but it is not, it is simply the by product of corrupt roots (that have never been redeemed/transformed by the blood of Christ) or shallow roots (saved but not surrendered) that could not hold their ground.

Total surrender requires, or may I go so far as to say DEMANDS, that a person change what they are looking at, what they are listening to, what they are reading, and what they are talking about. Am I getting legalistic? No, I am being REAListic. Christ has got to become the ONE thing in your life that you seek. What you listen to, what you read, what you watch on T.V., what you talk about…all of this (as much as possible) needs to be Christ-centered. As a person seeks an intimate relationship with Christ, the roots of the new life grow deeper into the good soil and strength is gained.

To put it very bluntly….Life must now become about what He wants you to do…where He wants you to go…what HE wants you to learn. Not about material needs or relationship wants. If a person makes materialistic needs “Lord”, then that Lord will dictate their life. If a person makes relationship needs and wants “Lord”, then that Lord will dictate their life. And by “dictate” I mean that every decision made will be based on that materialist desire or relationship need. The Bible tells us very clearly in Matthew 6:33, that we must seek HIM first and in doing so HE will supply all of our needs in EVERY area of our lives.

Most of us were taught the 10 Commandments as children, or have at least learned their Biblical importance as adults. When God told Moses to write “Thou shalt have NO OTHER GODS BEFORE ME,” I believe He was instructing us on how to be “overcomers.”

I began this writing to make a very simple point: If Jesus is not Savior and Lord of your life, then “just saying no” and D.A.R.E. programs will never work, and I have gotten more detailed than I planned. Let me sum it up with this warning:
If we do not say YES to Him, and SURRENDER totally to Him, then our mind and our thoughts will take us to other avenues and we will put other “Lords” in place in our lives. With other Lords, we may not fall back into addition, but the end result of following that “Lord” will be just as devastating. Joy, strength and victory will only come by making a total, 100% commitment to making Christ the Lord of our lives. God/Jesus/Holy Spirit FIRST. Anything less will NOT suffice.

Revelation 12:11 speaks of those who are rejoicing because “They overcame by the blood of the Lamb and by the word of their testimony; they did not love their lives so much as to shrink from death.” In this verse, the writer is talking about those who escaped the great tribulation. But I submit to you that God makes this same promise to those who value HIM more than any other thing in their lives. Overcome addiction? Say “Yes,” and then “surrender.” 

(Reach out for hope:

Corcovado jesus (Photo credit: @Doug88888)

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