Abstinence is not repentance
When the text came in, I was optimistic to hear from a friend. Then I read it and my heart broke…
The wheels have finally fallen off. Went to jail Monday night on DUI. Lost my car, license, job and apartment.
The context of the message is tragic in itself, but what hurts even more is that this is not the first time. I had met this man as he was coming through the local rescue mission. He had lost everything before. He had put in some dedicated time in a rehabilitation facility, he worked his way through work release and lived in control facilities. He knew what it was like to be without.
The times we met together, there seemed to be a hope and desire in this man’s talk. He began to get some fresh air. He went from needing rides to bible studies and events to getting a full-time job, buying a car and gradually getting his life back. He had gotten a chance to begin a relationship with Jesus and was experiencing new growth and progress.
Saving money and be responsible and diligent he saved enough money to buy a used car, put down a large sum of money for auto insurance and really was having some victories on a daily basis. He was compassionate and caring for other people, serving and helping many other guys in the rescue mission as well as local ministries in town.
From there, he had made great progress by saving enough money to get an apartment with a roommate and even begin reconciliation with his daughter and her mother. The healing process was well on its way. He was having happy moments of going to Christian concerts, playing golf and just really enjoying life.
Over the past six months, independence and freedom began to get dangerous. Some of the activities and behaviors that helped this man along the way ended up not being a priority any longer. We know that we are not supposed to stay the same as we are, but we should be evolving and growing in maturity. That means that as we begin to change the things we do and people we hang out with, we need to make sure that what we replace the people and things with are better than what we currently have.
What we have to acknowledge is that we can keep ourselves away from things that are harmful for us, but that does not change our thinking. The term used in the bible called repentance means to “turn”, change directions, go the other way. Abstinence is just the concept of staying away. One of the painful truths of our American judicial system is that they create an abstinence environment, but that does not mean repentance. See, just like my friend, he went through the pain of loss. He was taken away from his harmful environments and people, but over time when opportunity was available, the change in life was not rooted. It was weak and was vulnerable to the temptations.
I conclude this post with the difficult question, “is there really enough fun in one night to risk losing what you got?” Because last Monday, my friend was tempted and he made the decision to risk his victorious situation for whatever that night may bring. I do not condemn this man. because I was this man. Now after having over five years free of alcohol I have no temptation or desire to drink. I have seen what I have lost in the past, I rejoice in the life Jesus has allowed me to gain. I stand with confidence in Christ that he has more in store for me than I have ever experienced.
If any of you are struggling with drinking, doing drugs or unhealthy habits, please seek assistance. Don’t risk your life for a brief moment of excitement. Remember, he will let you continue to hurt yourself, until you are over yourself. If you don’t know where to get help, or if you need to talk, please reach out to me or one of your healthy friends.
Your pain will continue until your pain exceeds your pride
The choice is yours. If you don’t want anymore pain, you need to rid yourself of your pride.