Blog – 7-19-17
Last week I was in Nashville for a Celebrate Recovery conference. It was an over-the-top experience filled with life-changing testimonies about God’s redeeming love. I love it when God comes into the lives of desperate people and makes them brand new! That’s what recovery is all about.
One of the most powerful testimonies I’ve ever heard came from a man named Jeff.
Jeff was a rough, tough biker dude. I mean rough! This guy was the president of a biker gang, and he lived out and participated in every single activity that comes to your mind when you think about a tough biker gang. He shared stories of robbing people, fights, people getting killed, getting high, being under the influence of something all the time, spending his life going in and out of jail. He was a slave to his addiction and lifestyle, and there was literally nothing he wouldn’t do to get the drugs he needed to survive.
Jeff shared stories about sobering up for brief periods and his parents bailing him out way too many times. The final straw for his mom was one Christmas Eve when he stole the $100 bills she had put in everyone’s Christmas cards to buy drugs. She told him she never wanted to see him again. Jeff wept as he shared the guilt he felt for how low his addiction had taken him.
That wasn’t enough to stop him, however. He kept struggling with his demons and ended up buying a biker bar in Tennessee. A biker preached named Doc Ray started hanging out in the bar. He gave Jeff a ride home from jail when he needed it, talked to him, gave him food, showed him God’s love over and over again. Jeff fell deeper and deeper into his addiction, however, and finally lost everything. He was homeless, living on the streets, sleeping under bridges, afraid he would never see his daughter or family ever again.
Jeff went to jail one last time, weighing only 108 pounds. He had finally reached his bottom. Everyone in his life had given up on him, except for Doc. Doc visited him in jail and shared again that God had a better way for him. Jeff finally had enough and surrendered his life to Christ.
He started attending a Celebrate Recovery group that Doc recommended, and his life was dramatically changed as he lived life sober. He got back on his feet and started getting his life in order. Reconciliation started happening, and he was reunited with his daughter after not seeing her for six years. He even got remarried to a woman from the program, and they started doing recovery together.
Jeff was thrilled to get another Harley Davidson and started another biker gang, but this time based in recovery. Jeff is the president of Broken Chains, which is a group for bikers and bike enthusiasts who have experienced freedom from hurts, habits, and hang ups through the ministry of Celebrate Recovery.
Jeff shed lots of tears throughout his testimony, but the most tender moment happened when he shared the joy he felt when he was reunited with his parents. He could barely speak as he shared how God repaired their broken relationship and his mother finally got to see him sober and the man she raised him to be.
There wasn’t a dry eye in the place and you could hear a pin drop as he shared this powerful story of redemption.
God’s word tells us:
In him we have redemption through his blood, the forgiveness of sins, in accordance with the riches of God’s grace that he lavished on us. Ephesian 1:7-8
Some of you reading this may have people you love, maybe even your own son or daughter, who you have given up on. Your heart is filled with fear that they are never going to get it, they are too far gone for God’s reach.
I encourage you, my friend, don’t give up on them! Keep praying for them. Keep believing that God’s truth can get through the walls they’ve built around themselves. Keep trusting and hoping in God’s redeeming love.
God’s word tells us that no one is ever too far from the love of God. You never know who God is going to put in their lives. Doc hung out in a biker bar with simply the love of God as his shield. He put himself in some rough places, saw more than any person would ever want to see, yet somehow the light of God shone through him, and that light pierced the darkness that surrounded Jeff.
Please hear me, I’m not saying enable your loved ones. Not at all. There’s a point where we have to cut them off and set safe, healthy boundaries.
I’m simply asking you to never give up on praying for them and believing in the miracle of God’s grace and mercy. Hold on tight to the hope that lies in the truth that God never gives up on them. He will keep chasing after them until they take their final breath. That final breath might even be the moment when God’s truth finally pierces their heart.
Redemption is only a moment away for all of us. The moment we say, “I give up, Father, I trust in you,” redemption is ours.
Father God, I pray for the people in our lives who are far away from you. I pray that we could continue to be a light in their lives that points to you. Whether they are near us or far away, let the love that we have given them be the seed that sparks Your truth coming alive in their hearts. Help us remember that no one, absolutely no one, is out of the reach of your healing hand of redemption. Amen
Hugs and love,