Tuesday, September 23, 2014

Be on Guard

Earlier this year, I heard the riveting testimony of a young woman from my church. She shared the redemptive story of a mother who loved her in spite of her many years of drug addiction. It was a painful, agonizing path of destruction that wreaked havoc on an entire family for years. The Prodigal Son story had nothing on her. She had lived it to the fullest.

Her path to destruction started with one terrible idea, and this one temptation might even be viewed as a "normal" rite of passage to many.  After all, kids will be kids. Right?  However, this one awful decision would later bring much pain and misery to her life.  At the age of fifteen, this young girl was enjoying a cruise vacation with her family.  Wanting to appear more mature, she had the thought that it would be exciting to sneak into a club on board the ship and get drunk.  This foolish plan led to a young man taking advantage of her and raping her aboard the ship.

She did not tell anyone what had happened.  In the years that followed, the girl fell into self-loathing and was drawn into a downward spiral of abusive relationships, alcohol, recreational drugs, and finally heroin abuse to numb the pain.  It caused her to leave her family for long periods of time, and on occasion she even stole from them to support her drug habit.  In spite of everything, her mother continued to love and pray for her daughter, although she could not condone the lifestyle her rebellious daughter was living.  

At her darkest hour, the young woman had her life threatened, but something in her welled up.  She cried out to God for help.  She was able to get back to her family and go into rehab and finally receive the grace, love and forgiveness that only God can give.  Today she not only has a Christian marriage, but she is the joyful mother of children.  God has also led her to further her education to work in a field that helps others who have been involved in substance abuse. 

When I heard this story, I was proud of the courage that it took for this woman to share her testimony, but the thought kept coming to me:  What if she had not made that fateful decision on the cruise in the first place?  What if she had stayed away from the club and the alcohol that night?  How different would her life had been?  

I thank God that in her case, the enemy did not win.  Instead of being a sad statistic, the grace of God has turned her life into something beautiful.  Her story is a cautionary tale, but it is also a redemptive one, too.  Praise God!

 As I was thinking about her message, I ran across this passage from Psalms. 
"How can a young man keep his way pure?
By guarding it according to your word."  Psalm 119:9 (ESV)

Can God forgive our mistakes?  He definitely will, if we come in sincere repentance; however, it is far better for us to stick close to God's word, which helps us to guard our thoughts and our hearts.  I once challenged my students at a Christian school by posting a banner on the wall that said the following: "Are you willing to stand up for the sake of righteousness?"  Of course, I had a few obnoxious ones who would walk up to it and say, "No."  However, I hope I planted the seed in many to do what was right, even if it was difficult.

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