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 --
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!