I remember the phone call several years ago from an old friend. He had battled substance abuse since we were young, both alcohol and drugs, and the last I had heard he “was not in a good way,” as the saying goes. So when I saw his name on the caller ID, I cautiously said, “Hello?”
It almost did not sound like my friend, and in a way, it wasn’t. I honestly heard a new man. You see, instead of reaching for a bottle or a straw, he had replaced them with Jesus. It delighted my soul to hear him say, “Mike, I got saved last night.”
But life, and the struggles that come with it, will wear one down if not careful. I dare say that some time or another, everybody has felt the sting of temptation, pain or personal tragedy. It is in these times that our shields of faith tend to lower, becoming vulnerable.
Having a relationship with Christ does not mean the hard times are over. It does mean He will be there with you through it. The difficult question is whether one reaches for the Master’s hand, or something else.
A couple of weeks ago, my friend sent me a text. He had lost his son in a motorcycle accident a couple of months ago. It was simply these three words: “Pray for me.”
I knew he had reached for the wrong thing. Years of being faithful to family and God were swept away by the temporary relief of drugs. Temporary is the key word here. The problem will still be there tomorrow and the cycle of relief, the addiction, continues.
In times past, I would try to do things with him and talk him off the ledge. In this situation, I prayed for guidance and went a different route. I challenged him to remember where God brought him from. I challenged him to think of his family. I challenged him to read Ephesians 6 and take a stand against his lifelong nemesis, drugs.
Fast forward to a few days ago and I received another call from him. He was back on track. Praise the Lord, on that evil day, my friend stood. I am smiling now thinking about it.
There are many crossroads of decision in our lives. In painful times, it is hard to see that Christ has His hand outstretched. It is easier to grab the temporary and run with the devil than fight and walk the permanent road with Jesus. Choose the temporary or the permanent friends.
In Luke 9:23, Jesus says, “And He said to them all (everybody), if any man will come after me (get saved), let him deny himself (old man gone), and take up his cross daily (be ready for trials), and follow me (walk with Me).”
No one is perfect, we all make mistakes. Life is not perfect; it gets messy sometimes. Like my friend, the object is getting back on track.
I hope this makes some sense. I have a set time to get up, but sometimes I hit the snooze button a couple of times before standing. This morning, I had a dream in that little 10 minutes after hitting the snooze.
I was in an old-fashioned diner looking at song titles on a jukebox. Every song was a time in my life when I made a bad decision. Lots of songs there. I thought about how my life would have been had I acted differently.
A voice somewhere behind me said, “You cannot change the songs you composed, they make you who you are at this moment in time.”
That dream made me appreciate what I had. I thought, “I have a good life and am so blessed. All the bad songs in my past led me to this moment. Thank You, Lord.”
Then I turned the alarm off, stood up and laughed to myself. It is kind of like my life. I hit the snooze too many times when I should have listened to the alarm and arose. Stand, no matter what! Between the snooze and the alarm. Think about it.
May the Lord bless and keep you another week beloved. Amen.
Pastor Mike Smith can be reached by mail at P.O. Box 2, Summerville, GA, 30747,
or by email at Smith30747