In my naivety many years ago I made an enthusiastic but insensitive remark which has stood with me ever since. As a relatively young Minister a young man came across my path in Church one day, asking for help as his parents had thrown him out because of his alcohol addiction. I got him into three different, local hostels around the East Midlands. He lasted no more than three days in each one (one of them only a few hours). After each one he returned to his parents for about a week. After one occasion his Mother accused me of fuelling his addiction by getting him into a hostel where there were others with the same or similar issues, and yet her only solution was to throw him out of the house !
That young man eventually committed suicide and I live with a sense of my failure over it. Whilst I know it wasn’t my fault as such, I still treasure the memory of that young man and consequently wish there was more I could or should have done.
What was the insensitive remark? I told him he needed to become addicted to Jesus instead. Great truth in the remark but not what he needed to hear at that time in his life; a time when he just needed someone to hold him and love him and ultimately through that love introduce him to the greater love of Jesus.
I share this today in the hope that I’m older and wiser: I now find myself befriending the work of Burton Addiction Centre, which seeks to help others at their time of need. Today, I called into their restaurant (Langans) to drop a message off and found myself deep in conversation with people who have become friends.
Hopefully what I’ve learned over the years is not to over-spiritualise every occasion, nor see it as an evangelistic moment to add one more body to the ‘success’ rate: instead I trust that I’ve learnt to simply walk with people whilst remaining open to the urging of the Holy Spirit to guide me.
Why the opening picture to this post ? Because it reminds me that Jesus is the Alpha and the Omega, the beginning and the end. As such it is His work we’re engaged in and not our own, so we must be led by Him.
Please pray for the work of BAC and for Langans; please pray for those you know who are struggling at this time with all manner of addiction and seek Gods leading in what you should do.