Prodigal Children Overcoming Addiction — Part 2

Gary Wilkerson

In part one, Gary and Kelly share their heartbreak in learning that two of their children have fallen prey to drug and alcohol addiction. Their story continues.

We were brought to our knees, literally and figuratively, as Elliot’s and Evan’s lives spiraled out of control. There was the guilt of having failed our children, then came the shame. The shame of having given our lives to ministry and now feeling like we couldn’t manage our own home was an additional anvil that threatened to crush us. It wasn’t just us, though; it was a family crisis. People tend to forget that the tremors of addiction are felt throughout the entire family.

Even as we cried out to God, he slowly moved us forward. Carried by grace, we began to reassess and make positive changes. God was firm, though, in telling us our approach was to be wholehearted.

First, we sought professional help, a critical step. It’s one Christians sometimes dismiss, but we felt it was vitally important to understand the disease of addiction spiritually, physiologically, mentally and emotionally. Grasping the power of what we were up against armed us with the tools and knowledge to fight it. Also, during this time, we looked back into our family’s history and saw behaviors that had helped bring us to where we were. It was a time of reflection, breaking old habits and bringing down spiritual strongholds.

Second, we asked our congregation for prayer. It felt risky because we knew some would judge and criticize, and some did. However, we knew at this point, for us, it was what God wanted. Galatians 6:2 reminded us, “Bear one another’s burdens, and so fulfill the law of Christ” (ESV). We were enfolded in prayer and love as our church family stormed heaven on our behalf.

Third, we ended the enabling and began enforcing boundaries. We had to come to terms with the fact that our children’s bad decisions and risky behavior were their own, and they had to face them and be accountable. Ultimately, their survival was up to them.

The fourth and final step was one of the hardest: letting go. God gently reminded us that even he as the perfect parent has prodigal children; even Adam, whom God lovingly molded with his own hand from the dust of the earth, went into sin. The message from God was clear: “Your sons have free will; you must let them go. Give them to me. I’ve got this.”

Slowly, tentatively, we did and entrusted them to God.

Gary and Kelly’s testimony will continue next week, and their full story with Evan is available on the Gary Wilkerson podcast.

The Impossible Christian Life

John Bailey

When I was new as a believer, I started going to church and I heard this one guy’s testimony that shocked me. This guy started by saying, “You know, I've always been a good, moral person. Never really done anything wrong. The biggest thing I could think of was I would sometimes steal grapes at the grocery store.” All I could think, listening to this, was “Man, I was born into the wrong family.”

Looking back, I can say that testimony was a load of hooey. Frankly, after six months as a new believer, I was saying to myself, “There’s some mean people in church. There were nicer people in bars than I’ve met in church.” Now you can huff at that and get all holy, but somebody’s got to shout amen, right? I don’t think any of us are exempt from looking back at our lives and seeing that moment of transformation in Christ. If we’re a true believer, we know deep down exactly what it means to come from the ‘old man’ to the ‘new man.’

Paul in the Bible had every earthly right to say he’d lived one of the most upstanding lives a human could achieve according to the law. Yet he wrote, “The saying is trustworthy and deserving of full acceptance, that Christ Jesus came into the world to save sinners, of whom I am the foremost. But I received mercy for this reason, that in me, as the foremost, Jesus Christ might display his perfect patience as an example to those who were to believe in him for eternal life” (1 Timothy 1:15-16, ESV).

Our only hope is in Christ. One of the most difficult things is living as a believer. Actually, the Christian life is not just hard; it's impossible. To anyone who argues against that, how about this? Love your enemies and pray for those who despitefully use you. Who can do that without the power of the Spirit?

I’ll tell you this: In and of myself, without Jesus and his work of redemption in my spirit, I cannot pray for people who maliciously work against me. Thank God that he gives us the Holy Spirit to walk out his commands through Christ! Like Paul wrote, “The grace of our Lord overflowed for me with the faith and love that are in Christ Jesus” (1 Timothy 1:14).

John Bailey is the COO of World Challenge Inc. and the Founding Pastor of The Springs Church in Jacksonville, Florida. John has been serving the Lord in pastoral ministry for 35 years, ministering the gospel in over 50 nations, particularly as a pastor and evangelist in Cork, Ireland.

God Wants to Deliver You

David Wilkerson (1931-2011)

When the three Hebrew children were thrown into the fiery furnace, a fourth man was there with them: Jesus! They didn’t get burned. In fact, their clothes and hair didn’t even smell of smoke. That’s the kind of deliverance God wants to bring you in your time of trial.

What is God’s motivation for wanting to deliver you? Is it because you have done something to appease him? Have you increased your prayer time? Do you spend more hours reading scripture? All this is good, but Isaiah had the true revelation when he said, “Since you were precious in my sight, you have been honored, and I have loved you; therefore I will give men for you, and people for your life. Fear not, for I am with you; I will bring your descendants from the east, and gather you from the west” (Isaiah 43:4-5 NKJV).

This is one of the most powerful and personal messages from God in all the Bible. He is wonderfully specific in communicating his deep, eternal passion for us, his creation, his people.

“You’re about to go through fires and floods,” he says. “But don’t worry; I’ll walk with you through them all. I’ll deliver you in the end simply because you are mine. I know you by name, and you are a delight to my heart.”

He continues with a message of hope for the future. “Behold, I will do a new thing, now it shall spring forth; shall you not know it? I will even make a road in the wilderness and rivers in the desert” (Isaiah 43:19). After our deliverance, he promises new life in ways you can’t yet imagine!

He honors us; he protects us; he delivers us; he gives us hope. We are precious in his sight! That is the God we serve.

God’s Pure Mercy

David Wilkerson (1931-2011)

Isaiah had a revelation of God’s great delight in us. He prophesied, “But now, thus says the Lord, who created you, O Jacob, and he who formed you, O Israel: ‘Fear not, for I have redeemed you; I have called you by your name; you are mine. When you pass through the waters, I will be with you; and through the rivers, they shall not overflow you. When you walk through the fire, you shall not be burned, nor shall the flame scorch you’” (Isaiah 43:1-2 NKJV).

Isaiah wasn’t talking about a literal flood or fire. He was talking about what people go through spiritually and mentally. Israel was in captivity at the time. Their floods were trials; their fires were temptations; their rivers were times of testing. These were all Satan’s attempts to destroy and overwhelm God’s people.

Isaiah’s words were a message of pure mercy for Israel. The people were in captivity because of their own stupidity and foolishness, but God sent them a brokenhearted prophet who said, “God wants me to tell you that you belong to him.”

The prophet continues this theme in that same chapter. “I, even I, am he who blots out your transgressions for my own sake; and I will not remember your sins” (Isaiah 43:25). Our Lord pleads with us again to come to him no matter what is happening in our lives. His unending grace and mercy are ours; all we need to do is call on him.

Right now, you may feel like you’re drowning in swirling waters. You may feel overwhelmed by a trial or temptation that threatens to consume you. You’ve got to understand from these biblical examples that the Lord does not always calm the waters. He does not always keep the floods from coming or put out the fires.

Yet he does promise, “I will walk with you through it all. This trial or circumstance will not destroy you. It won’t consume you. So, walk on. You’ll come out on the other side with me beside you.”

The Key to All Deliverance

David Wilkerson (1931-2011)

The Holy Spirit gave David a revelation that is the key to all deliverance. David could say, “The reason God delivered me from all my enemies, from all my sorrows and the powers of hell is that I am precious to him. My God delights in me!”

Do you need deliverance from lust, temptation or trial? From a problem that’s mental, spiritual, emotional or physical? The key to your victory is in this verse. “He also brought me out into a broad place; he delivered me because he delighted in me” (Psalm 18:19). God delights in you. You are precious to him!

In Song of Solomon, the Lord says of his bride, “How fair and how pleasant you are, O love, with your delights” (Song of Solomon 7:6). Three of the Hebrew words in this verse are synonymous: fair means precious; pleasant indicates pleasure and delights. These words describe Jesus’ thoughts toward his bride as he beholds her. He looks at her and says, “How beautiful, sweet and delightful you are. You are precious to me, O love.”

In turn, the bride boasts, “I am my beloved’s, and his desire is toward me” (Song of Solomon 7:10). The meaning here is “He runs after me with delight. He chases me because I am so precious to him.”

Our Lord also reminds us that although he is the God of glory, the creator of the universe, he loves each one of us completely and will never fail to care for us. “For your maker is your husband,” he says, “the Lord of Hosts is his name; and your Redeemer is the Holy One of Israel; he is called the God of the whole earth” (Isaiah 54:5). We belong to almighty God!

These thoughts are found throughout the psalms. “The Lord takes pleasure in those who fear him, in those who hope in his mercy” (Psalm 147:11). “For the Lord takes pleasure in his people; he will beautify the humble with salvation” (Psalm 149:4).

May your heart find comfort today in his unending love for you!