One of God’s greatest gifts to us is personal choice.
But since we are human, we often make the mistake of making choices on our own – without asking for our Heavenly Father’s guidance.
Those choices can lead us far away from God, far away from His plans for us, and lost far away from the purposes He has for us.
They can lead down a path of destruction. A path without love. A path without hope. A path without meaning, and a path to places we should have never gone.
That’s why the Bible puts it simply that we are to allow God to direct our decisions and the path we follow:
I met Sandra at Christmastime 2015 – she was happy, smart, and talkative – with an enthusiasm for life and starting over at age 44.
New Year’s Eve was when the first sign of her illness came to light. Within one glass of celebratory champagne, this happy-go-lucky sweet person became someone entirely different – horribly depressed and trapped in addiction, crying out over and over:
“I’ve lost my baby, I’ve lost my baby!”
Losing her 5-year-old son, Justin, was the defining moment in her life. Without God’s help she could never recover from having made the choice to abuse alcohol which had led to him being taken from her. The choice to succumb to alcoholism became easier and easier, because without hope – why not continue to do something that at least seemed to give momentary relief from all the suffering?
Fortunately, we were blessed to get her into a women’s shelter, where she was safe and sober for almost 2 months. In that time, her personality and intelligence landed her a job, a beautiful home, and a caring roommate.
The problem, again, became one of choice – and within a month she had stolen alcohol from her roommate and the police were called in and she was arrested. This led to Sandra losing everything that right choices and seeking God’s guidance had brought into her life.
She is not alone in having poor decisions wreak havoc, as we have all experienced the weight of our choices.
Think of Solomon seeking after the desires of this world only to find emptiness and vanity, King David pursuing the desires of the flesh and finding heartache and loss, or ourselves in making decisions that were outside of God’s will and finding pain and suffering.
The choice Sandra never made was to trust God and to give Him power over her life. She often spoke of her faith, but struggled to give God control or to ask Him to heal her.
Her addictions led her to being abused, then to living in the worst housing in all of Fayetteville – where she was brutally beaten and left for dead. Sandra ended up homeless, where she lived in the woods without hope and with no restraint left over her disease.
Tragically, Sandra was found alone and dead of an overdose at a homeless camp just a few weeks ago.
The choice to be healed and whole is ours, the decision to live in freedom is freely offered to each of us – but we must make that conscious choice to allow God to begin a healing and restorative work in our mind, body, and soul.
The good news is that God wants to do that which we don’t have the power to do on our own.
Jesus asks each of us “”Do you want to get well?” – and we have to be prepared to say “Yes Lord, make me well!” and then to take steps of faith and make right choices with God directing our path.
That healing has now happened fully and forever for Sandra. She is in the loving arms of the One who understands the pain of losing a child, and who always loved her and now holds her close.
Lord God, we come to you as broken, weak, and fragile children. We know that there are things that we do that we shouldn’t and things that we should do that we don’t. Give us the faith, courage, and strength to trust that you have a plan and purpose for everything that happens. To truly believe that you love us and want to heal us. Help us to tell those trapped in addiction or mental illness that there is hope and healing. We pray for Sandra’s mom as she raises her grandson alone – and we pray for little Justin as he grows up without a mother or father to love and care for him. In Jesus’ name, amen.
Local Mission Coordinator