Wednesday, November 17, 2010

There is a constant temptation for the men in Teen Challenge who make dramatic progress at first which then gives them a false sense of security and they feel they are prepared to leave the program without completing it. Sadly, drug and alcohol addiction is rarely overcome with a month of treatment. Years of abuse will take, in some cases, years to overcome. There certainly are miraculous deliverance's where a person may walk away from addiction and never turn back, but this is the exception and not the rule. The following piece was a letter I wrote to one of the men who was wavering about completing the program. Later I shared it with all the guys because of its relevance.

"And look that you make constant resistance, as well as strong resistance; be constant in arms.

Satan will come on with new temptations when old ones are weak. In a calm prepare for a storm.

The tempter is restless, always on the offense, and subtle; he will suit his temptations to your personality and desires. Satan loves to sail with the wind. Therefore while you are still fit for fresh assaults, make one victory a step to another. When you have overcome a temptation, take heed of unbending your bow, and see to it, that your bow be always bent, and that it remains in strength.

When you have overcome one temptation you must be ready to enter the course with another. As distrust in some sense is the mother of safety, so security is the gate of danger.

A man had need to fear this most of all, that he fears not at all. If Satan be always roaring, we should be always a-watching and resisting him.” Thomas Brooks

I think this theme is summed up in the following scripture --

Genesis 4:7
If you do what is right, will you not be accepted? But if you do not do what is right, sin is crouching at your door; it desires to have you, but you must rule over it.”

We soon forget that sin is crouching at our door and we drift off to the land of “Nod” and like the sentry who fell asleep at his post while the opposing army chose that very night to wage their attack and found opportunity for a victorious surprise attack because of the sleeping sentry.

I think it’s very important to remember that even though while in the walls of Teen Challenge, where its structure encourages every form of spiritual discipline; you have brothers to share with and staff to encourage you; classes to teach, chapels to inspire and the environment is relatively free of temptations for gross sins, you will not long from now be back in the world, with little or no structure and none to exhort you to follow the disciplines that have helped you thus far. Remember, the battle has not yet been won. I like the words of Winston Churchill which were applied to the Nazi takeover of Europe, but can be applied to the battle against addictions –

“This is not the end, it is not even the beginning of the end. But it is, perhaps, the end of the beginning.”

So if you find yourself without a hunger and thirst for a deeper walk with Christ you must ask, ‘if not here, where? If not now, when? There is a famous quote by Shakespeare that is so relevant to your circumstance –

“There is a tide in the affairs of men.
Which, taken at the flood, leads on to fortune;
Omitted, all the voyage of their life
Is bound in shallows and in miseries.
On such a full sea are we now afloat,
And we must take the current when it serves,
Or lose our ventures.

Now the tide of opportunity is in, your life is at a crossroad.

The “flood” or circumstances, exist now that may well lead to fortune, or victory.

If you let this opportunity go by in hopes that there's a promise of another easier time, or more advantages place, you may find yourself bound to shallows and miseries. You are now afloat a strong tide and current, and it will serve you well, if taken advantage of;

redeem the time!

Photo by Amanda Hoskin


Mel said...

The photo is amazing! I had to look closely at it to determine whether it was a photo or a painting.

I hope that the man you gave the letter to read and understood every word, and that God breathed power into the words and into the man's heart so that his heart was open and humbled and ready to receive these fantastic words of wisdom and truth. I also pray that everyone else that you shared it with was impacted by it powerfully, and that each and every one will be inspired and protected from the lusts of the flesh and the charms of the world.

Yours is a very tough job in so many ways, but, in the spirit of your post, if not you, then who? If not now, then when? I know that God strategically placed you exactly where you are and that you bring glory and honor to His great name every moment of every day!

Joseph Pulikotil said...

Hi Fred,

This is a literary masterpiece.So many quotes to ponder and meditate.Any person who wants to truly reform himself will never let these words go unheeded.These are not only applicable to people who want to get rid of addictions but also to people who want to further themselves in life with honest hard work.

I love that quote from Shakespeare.Most of us don't take the tide when it is in flood.We hesitate,we dither,we procrastinate and as a result the tide is gone and we wait for another tide which never comes.When there is an opportunity for success and advancement we should seize it with both hands although it looks like a flood, a difficult situation to surmount.

I am sure the man who read your powerful message relented and went through the entire program.

Great writing Fred.

Have a nice day,

FCB said...

Hi Mel,
Thanks for your encouraging words, and I too, hope he took it to heart.
He has stayed in the program so far but he is not investing in it like he should. Now this fella was a drug dealer and without getting into too much detail, he is aware of some devastating results caused by his trade, results that one would hope would motivate him to cling tighter to the cross.
We pray....

Hi Joseph,
I love that quote by Shakespeare as well and you summed it up well.
Thanks for your kind words,
God bless you both,