I am a part of a group called Shelby County Christians United Against Drugs. The ministry was started in response to the addiction of one of the founder’s daughter. The group prays, encourages those going through the Drug Court program, sponsors Celebrate Recovery groups, and holds activities to point those struggling with addiction to a better way. September is National Recovery Month and we held a Recovery Month Celebration on September 24 at the Community Development Center of New Mount Zion Baptist Church. I was asked to share a theme interpretation. Because the issues of addiction affect every community, I share the theme interpretation as an encouragement to us all to keep helping people in our communities who need to experience recovery from “hurts, habits, and hang-ups.” This ministry has received several small EBO grants which have helped with materials for recovery groups and other ministry supplies.
Our theme for this gathering is “Join the Voices of Recovery: Visible, Vocal, Valuable.” The theme helps us understand why we are gathered.
First, we come to join our voices in Shelby County with the voices of others all over the country. We understand that recovery happens in community as we own up to our hurts, habits, and hang-ups. None of us can do life without others – we need each other.
In joining others, we declare that:
– Recovery brings visible change. As we let go of addictions and turn our lives over to God, there will be change that is noticeable. We want recovery to be visible in our community. We are not sweeping the problem of addiction under the rug. We are instead acknowledging that it is a problem that has created chaos in so many lives, but we are joining together for accountability and encouragement.
– We are vocal about the need for recovery and vocal about the journey. There is power in owning a problem out loud to other people. When we hide our hurts, habits, and hang-ups, those things control us. But when we vocalize it, now we are taking charge and seeking the help of God and others for victory.
– And we affirm that every person is valuable, no matter what your issue or addiction, every person is valuable to God, to family, to friends, and to this community.
On being valuable, the Bible teaches us that Jesus came to seek and save the lost. In Luke 15, it says that all the tax collectors and sinners were coming to Jesus to listen to Him. That’s us – the ones with hurts, habits, and hang-ups – the ones who know our lives are a mess and we need help.
In the passage there were some high and mighty folks who grumbled about Jesus spending time with such sinners. Jesus responded by telling three stories – the story of the Lost Sheep, the Lost Coin, and the Lost Son.
In the case of the lost sheep, even though there were 99 safe in the pasture, the lost one was so valuable that the shepherd went looking until he found the sheep. The shepherd brought the sheep home and called his neighbors to rejoice with him. Jesus said “I tell you, in the same way, there will be more joy in heaven over one sinner who repents than over 99 righteous persons who need no repentance.”
In the case of the lost coin, a woman had 10 but lost one and would not rest until the house was swept and the coin found. Jesus said, “In the same way, I tell you, there is joy in the presence of God over one sinner who repents.”
And in the story of the lost son, the son was lost because of the choices he made. The son wasted his inheritance with “loose living” and after nothing was left, he found himself in a pig pen, feeding the pigs just to have something to eat. But in the story, the son came to his senses and realized he needed to go home and beg for his father’s forgiveness. He planned his speech, not to make excuses, but to own up to what he had done. To his amazement, his father had been waiting and watching for him to come home. His father received him with gladness and threw a party to celebrate, saying “This son of mine was dead and has come to life again; he was lost and has been found.”
Yes, in the story there was an older brother who grumbled, just as there are some people in our lives who grumble over the mess we have made of things. But the father threw a party and welcomed his son home anyway.
Shelby County Christians United Against Drugs has thrown a party and we say to all – whether you are a lost sheep, lost coin, or a lost son or daughter, you are so valuable that God has placed people and programs in your life to help you experience recovery. And know this – that our redemptive God is able to take the messes we make and use them for His glory and our good if we turn our lives over to Him.
We are grateful to all who joined us and helped us have a Recovery Celebration. Everyone of us can be a voice for recovery – visible, vocal, valuable.