I hardly know how to begin. When I think about the darkness in which I lived on a daily basis for at least a decade, I cannot believe the grace that I have been given. God has restored and healed my life. He has given me back myself.
Everyone who comes to Adult & Teen Challenge BC can probably pinpoint a time when their world began to careen toward a moment of crisis. For me, this was at the beginning of last year. The demons from which I had been running were catching up with me and the alcohol that I had used to buoy myself in a sea of despair, now only served to drown any ray of hope that remained. I felt myself falling deeper and deeper into an unshakable sense of meaninglessness. Though I was engaged to be married in September, as the wedding approached, I knew that if I loved my fiancé I could not go through with the wedding. There was too much about myself of which I was ashamed and utterly unwilling to share with anyone. I also knew that the way I felt about the wedding was indicative about the way I felt about my entire life. I was trapped and I was tired of fighting the guilt and sadness. I knew that my only option was to give up and end my life. As I sat alone planning my death, God met me. He made it clear that there were only two choices – life and death. He also made it clear that to choose life meant complete surrender of life to Him. Then God brought me to Adult & Teen Challenge BC.
There is an interesting paradox at the heart of salvation – God does the work for us and then He requires the work of us. “For it is by grace you have been saved (Eph 2:8)” and yet we work out our own salvation with fear and trembling (Phil 2:12). The day that I made the decision to surrender my life to Christ, God miraculously healed me of the addition to alcohol. The effects that I should have felt in detoxing were instantly removed, as was the obsession and desire to drink. But even though the addiction was gone, I spent the next 12 months working harder (by the grace of God) than I have worked in my life to ensure that the change was permanent.
People probably wonder what makes up the substance of a drug and alcohol recovery program and why some programs work and others don’t. I am certainly not an expert, but I think there are two reasons that Adult & Teen Challenge BC is so powerful. The first reason is that Teen Challenge requires absolute surrender – to God ultimately and to the rules and requirements of the program on a daily basis. There is no room for half-hearted commitment and I believe that this is essential in the process of healing from addiction. Recovery has to have a personal cost if it is to have lasting effect.
The second reason that Adult & Teen Challenge BC succeeds where other programs fail is that it provides a safe haven for spiritual growth, a place that is protected from the daily distractions and concerns that keep us from hearing the heart of God. This is especially valuable for those of us who have come from a background of addition. We need time to learn to trust God’s character and His heart toward us. We need the time to establish a relationship of trust and faithfulness. This is what Adult & Teen Challenge BC provides.
For me, Teen Challenge was a miracle. I saw God’s love overwhelmingly and lavishly poured out on my life through sponsors, donors and volunteers. I not only felt God’s forgiveness but His unmerited favor. Every day, I had a safe place to call my home because of the generosity of donors and sponsors whose faces I may never see. I had even my smallest needs met because local churches thought to reach out and give. I had my sense of worth and self-esteem affirmed because each one of the incredible volunteers saw me as a valuable person, worthy of their love and time. I could never hope to repay the debt that I owe to all of those who helped make my time at Adult & Teen Challenge BC possible.
After my graduation in July, life has not slowed down. In September, I married the wonderful man who stood by me through my unusual journey. God provided the most perfect and beautiful wedding imaginable to begin this new life of ours together. In each day since my graduation I have felt God’s hand protecting and guiding me. I am almost shy about the amount of love and favor in which the Lord has covered me; I know how undeserving I am. But God doesn’t love us because we earn it, He loves us so that He can show the world His greatness through our transformation. This is what Paul meant when he said, “We have this treasure in earthen vessels to show that this power is from God and not from ourselves.”
All the glory goes to Him.