Sunday, November 25, 2012

Meeting The Challenge

Luna Lovegood:... But I suppose that’s how he wants you to feel.

Harry Potter: What do you mean?

Luna Lovegood: Well if I were You-Know-Who, I’d want you to feel cut off from everyone else, because if it’s just you alone you’re not as much of a threat.
- Harry Potter and the Order of the Phoenix

This quote has been popping up in my mind quite a bit lately. I suppose that's one advantage to getting on the HP bandwagon 10 years after the movies came out. Who knew that Loony Lovegood would be dropping a nugget of wisdom that gets me through some of the rough moments?

Today was a good day. This week, with thanksgiving and all the things that are happening has been filled with lots of emotion, introspection, travel, & self-analyzing. On Wednesday morning, I got a phone call that the husband of a dear friend took his own life. My friend's son is enrolled in Teen Challenge, a program affiliated with the Assembies of God church that helps people with substance abuse & other entrapments through the Word of God; it immerses them in right living & changes their lives. My friend feared that her son, who was to go into phase 2 of his 14 month program- THIS WEEKEND- would not want to go through with the program & would relapse. My heart broke as I thought of my friend and how what was to be a lovely trip with her husband to visit her son this weekend ended up being changed by this devastating occurrence- she now had to go alone, on thanksgiving, to tell her son that his father had taken his life.

Yesterday, I got a text from my friend asking me to go to church with her today. As God would have it, her son's Teen Challenge group was to visit a church here in town & conduct the Sunday service. Wanting to support them, I got [over] dressed in my Sunday's finest to be with her this morning.

Well, I tell you what! I saw the group of young men from the Sandhills Teen Challenge program, run by Sal DiBianca and his wife Debby, I immediately scanned to see if I could spot Baby Boy. When I tell you that I found him in that was because the Glory of God shown upon his face. No, really....he glowed. Even another lady who came to support pointed it out. Not what you'd expect from a 20-year old young man who just lost his father and who was in the midst of a substance abuse rehabilitation program. This young man was welcomed back into his hometown to give his testimony, citing that the enemy had done everything he could to stop his progress and keep him from moving forward with his life. He was there to tell us on this morning that NOTHING- not even his father's death just a few days ago- would stop him from fulfilling his life's calling (see Luna Lovegood quote again). He gave his testimony this morning, buried his father this afternoon and on tomorrow, his mother is taking him to Pennsylvania for phase 2 of his rehab program. God Works!!!!!

What was even more amazing was the enthusiasm and fearlessness these men had when sharing their testimonies. Although it's called "Teen Challenge", residents in the group were between the ages of 19-49! Many of the older residents had endured addiction to alcohol, crack, pot, heroine, & other drugs for DECADES. It's hard for some people to admit little faults, let alone to publicly share a personal trial like substance abuse to a sanctuary of strangers.

I say all that I say that this experience further provides the evidence that GOD CHANGES LIVES. Not only does he change lives, but he can do it quickly. No task is too big....not even years of drug use or as one resident put it "years of dishonest living". As a person who makes the CHOICE to trust God & accept the gifts he offers us, I have no choice but to believe this whole heartedly. I make it my business to tell God everyday: "God, I believe in You and I believe that you change lives. I'm asking you to change mine."

And He has. On Thursday, filled with emotion & overwhelmed by the holidays, I'd begun a rather....well, sad blog entry. It was conveniently deleted by my phone app :), and I think this was for a reason. I'm so happy to share this message with you rather than the one I'd planned. I still don't quite feel like myself; sometimes it's uncomfortable and I don't quite know what to do....but I'm evolving into God's best version of me yet. If the men of the Teen Challenge can be renewed and reformed by God's grace and allow their lives to show as proof of Jesus' love for us, then I can meet the challenge, too.

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