Be sober-minded; be watchful. Your adversary the devil prowls around like a roaring lion, seeking someone to devour. 1 Peter 5:8 (ESV)
This past week I had the pleasure of
accompanying my husband to a national conference on addictions. His job was
to go to the conference, my job was to enjoy the surroundings. I spent my time studying while sitting at
a neat perch on the second floor that overlooked the atrium and had full view
of the people coming and going from their sessions.
conference was huge and attended by people in all different facets of
caring for those who struggle with substance abuse. Judges, lawyers,
District attorneys, counselors, and others all met together for the
purposes of education and awareness. One of the things that really
struck me was how much all of these people are invested in what they do.
They all want to help, they want to hold people accountable for drug and
alcohol abuse. They want to impact their clients and their peers with
knowledge and information about how drugs and alcohol affect people and
society. There was a fairly heavy emphasis on issues that are labeled as mental
illness. The majority of the people in attendance believe that alcoholism
begins as a disease. They believe there is some genetic disposition to drug
at my perch, I overheard many of their work-related conversations. I was really
saddened by one thing all the discussions had in common: hopelessness. Person
after person talking about their clients who are continually in trouble,
relapsing, having legal trouble, going to jail, losing their spouse or their
children because of drugs or alcohol. They had no answers. They had nothing to
offer outside of behavior modification, which is like rearranging the
deck chairs on the Titanic. These
professionals mean well, but I heard them talking about the same old things as
though they were brand new ideas. Journaling, art, therapy, support groups, all
things of the world aimed at changing feelings and behavior and ignoring the
most critical element of the heart.
All of their efforts might temporarily
make life better for some of their clients. However, they could offer no
true hope. They could not offer anything beyond "recovery” and “recovery"
is not even promised if you follow their methods!
What I understood from listening
to the conversations around me is they don't understand that addiction is an
issue of the heart. When addiction is examined as a heart issue, the real
problems quickly come to the surface and can be addressed. It is the heart of
the addicted idolater that must be changed, it is the heart that must be
affected by repentance and a desire to change before God before the addict will
experience true change in their life. All attempts at change will be void of
power apart from Christ.
hopelessness I saw in the people there ran deeper than their professional
problems. It was clear many of them are so spiritually lost. They are the blind
leading the blind, the dead trying to revive the dead. They held meditation
meetings, spiritual connectivity sessions, 12-Step meetings, and of course,
yoga. They were not interested in living water, they are interested in drowning
themselves and their clients in water that will never satisfy or bring true
help and hope.
man with nearly 30 years of repentant living from drugs and alcohol approached
the booth of a well-known 12-Step support group. He expressed gratitude for the
organization, for in the beginning it was all he knew to maintain
"sobriety." After some brief chatting about the organization the man
was asked if he still attended 12-Step meetings. He said he has not attended
meetings for more than a decade and no longer calls himself "recovering,"
having opted for the more accurate term, "repentant." When he replied
that he was an avid follower of Jesus Christ, and that meeting organizers had at
one point pulled him aside telling him, "You're freaking out the new guys
with all that talk about Jesus."
men attending the booth immediately exclaimed, "Oh no, you can't talk
about Jesus! Higher power sure, but not Jesus." How sad.
man who was chided is my husband, who on August 7 will celebrate 30 years of
repentance from life dominating sins with drugs and alcohol.
A lack of emphasis on the
necessity of heart change and repentance is the problem with secular treatment
and any system of people helping that refuses to acknowledge the supremacy of
God; it is doomed to fail.