My last act in leading the thirty-six consecutive weeks of Celebrate Recovery at our church was to lead in prayer for any who wanted to ask Christ into their hearts and lives and begin a new life. During the evening I had conversed with a young man who was celebrating a year’s sobriety off of meth. He had a winsome smile, a hope for his future and a new life in Christ. He still struggles from time to time but the future is bright. He understood how important it was to meet with people who have taken similar roads in life and so he sought us out. These past thirty-six weeks of Celebrate Recovery had been full of these true-life stories. The people who came through our doors had a startling honesty, humility and desire to help others in their own struggles. It was real, sometimes gut-level raw, but entirely a sincere time worship, seeking, and encouraging each other. I found it “addicting.” When you have the opportunity to minister in such circumstances, and be trusted to share in the depths of others life struggles and find that God could use even my most painful life episodes to help others – how could one ever find fulfillment in anything less? Life change – it’s what we all long for when we step over the line of faith. Life change is what happened at Celebrate Recovery.
My hope and prayer is that this great ministry that has helped thousands of individuals and churches globally will continue locally after I am gone from my position. Sometimes in life we have an amazing exhilarating experience and our attempts to tell others what happened just falls short in the translation. It was always difficult to adequately explain the significance of this ministry with those who for some reason did not relate. And then, truly, there are some passages in life that we just will not understand during our time on earth. God has reasons and we just have to trust Him. And so I will have to entrust this ministry, which belongs to God anyway, into His hands and the very capable hands of those with whom I have served. It is always hard to say good-bye when we don’t want something to end.
If you ever have a chance to attend, or even serve at a Celebrate Recovery, I highly recommend doing so. We tend to think it’s for “those people,” until we realize that “those people” are us – we all have a hurt, hang-up or habit that needs the transforming power of God.
From the pen of the Apostle Paul, those of us who spoke or shared their life story can relate: “And when I came to you, brethren, I did not come with superiority of speech or of wisdom, proclaiming to you the testimony of God. For I determined to know nothing among you except Jesus Christ, and Him crucified. I was with you in weakness and in fear and in much trembling, and my message and my preaching were not in persuasive words of wisdom, but in demonstration of the Spirit and of power, so that your faith would not rest on the wisdom of men, but on the power of God.” I Corinthians 2:1-5