The Hurting, Broken, and Lost | Reaching People
Monday— Chad’s Story* (* The following are combined case studies, not actual testimonies.)
“Recovery? I don’t need to go to any recovery program. I’m not a drug addict! That’s insulting.” Chad frowned at his new assistant. Chloe smiled at him. “I didn’t mean it to be,” she said. “It’s just that when Dad started the recovery program at our church, I’ve seen firsthand how helpful it is. Now Dad, as our pastor, doesn’t have to try to be everything to everyone. I’ve started going myself and it’s helped with my people-pleasing problem. See how bold I was to invite you? I’d have never done that six months ago.” Chad grinned at her. “Are you hinting that I have the same problem? Hm. Maybe it’s worth a try.”
What do you think when you hear about Christ-based recovery programs? You might assume they’re Christianized AAs or rehabs for junkies. Some are, but not Cedar point Recovery. CP Recovery understands that the human heart is an idol factory and our issues may be ways we are worshiping those idols. False worship can take many forms and lead us into all kinds of dysfunctions. When we learn that personal issues are rooted in spiritual ones, we’re motivated to topple those idols. Chad learned in Recovery that his need to please people came from his belief that human validation determined his worth. When he learned to seek God’s validation, his value and happiness were no longer at the mercy of other people’s opinions.
Final Thought: Cedar Point Recovery helps free people from any entanglement that hinders their walk with Christ.
Prayer: Father, I’ve felt stunted in my spiritual growth and not sure what to do about it. You know the issues I struggle with. Maybe Recovery would help me get past those hurdles. I’m willing to try it if you’ll meet me there. In Jesus’ name, amen.
Tuesday— Jessica’s Story
She stood in the shadows, clutching baby Liam to her chest and trying not to run away. Her heart pounded so loudly she was sure the speaker on the stage could hear it. A voice at her elbow made her jump. “Is this your first time here?” A lady was smiling at her. Jessica swallowed hard and nodded. This was it. This was when church ladies eyed you up and down, saw your three kids and no wedding ring, and lifted their noses. She shut her eyes and waited. Instead of judgment, an arm came around her shoulders and a soft voice was in her ear: “You’ve come to the right place. I’ll help you take your little ones to our childcare and then you can sit with me. I’ve been where you are and I understand how you feel. We’re glad you’re here.”
“We’re glad you’re here.” Doesn’t everyone yearn to feel wanted? Unfortunately, the church hasn’t done as well as Jesus did in welcoming people. But Recovery is a place that specializes in “We’re glad you’re here.” CP Recovery welcomes the broken and hurting and leads them to the Healer. When Jessica felt loved, her heart could open to truth. When she knew her children were loved, she could relax and let God deal with her broken places. The first step in reaching the hurting and broken is to let God rid us of prejudice, judgment, and expectations. CP Recovery meets people where they are, like Jesus did and, shows them how to be free. When we assure people that we’re glad they’re here, we can lead them to the Healer who healed us.
Final Thought: How well do you convey “We’re glad you’re here” to the hurting and broken?
Prayer: Father, I see some prejudice and judgment in my own heart that keeps me from welcoming all people. I confess it as sin and ask you to give me the heart of Jesus, who loved people where they were, and then healed them. In His name, amen.
Wednesday— Allen’s Story
Allen slid into a seat next to his boyfriend. He darted a look around to see if anyone was staring. He’d never been to a church before and his friends had warned him about it, but he was desperate. His lifestyle was not bringing the happiness he thought it would. He felt trapped. Empty. And while he’d never tell anyone, he’d considered suicide. James was willing to go with him, so they’d dressed in their most flamboyant outfits, hoping for a fight. If the church people came after them, they’d have a great story to tell. But the lady beside them smiled and handed them a paper: Hope for the Hurting. Tears sprang to his eyes.
The world is shouting to us that sin is what we need. “That’s who you are! Don’t deny your authentic self!” it screams. But our authentic selves are what got us into trouble in the first place. They’re what Jesus came to save. People who chase the desires of their authentic selves find themselves far from God—like Eve in the Garden. At CP Recovery, we learn that we’re all broken in different places. Wholeness requires us to stop chasing what we think is our authentic self and instead pursue God because He’s the only One who knows. We lay down the identities we’ve clung to and let Him define us His way. Whether we’ve defined ourselves by our gender, our sexuality, or our selfishness, true healing is found only in receiving the identity God gives us.
Final Thought: When our identity is anything other than “obedient follower of Jesus,” we’ll never find our authentic selves.
Prayer: Lord, as I consider the ways I’ve defined myself, my priorities have been wrong. I’ve sought identity in things other than you. I’ve listened to the world’s definitions of who I am, but only in you will I find my authentic self. In Jesus’ name, amen.
Thursday— Lamont’s Story
He hesitated in the doorway, feeling like a black sock at a white sale. Maybe this was a bad idea. If the judge hadn’t forced him into this… Suddenly, a man stood in front of him, grinning and reading his thoughts. “Hey, I get it, bro! We all felt that way. I’m Jaron. C’mon in!” He held out a hand and Lamont relaxed as he shook it. “Glad you’re here,” Jaron said as they followed the crowd. “We’re the only brothers so far, but after a couple of weeks, you don’t care. My boss sent me here about my anger issues. What about you?” Lamont gulped. “Alcohol,” he admitted for the first time. And that was the last time it mattered.
We like to play “Whose sin is worse?” as a way of minimizing our own failures. But at Recovery, no one cares. We come face-to-face with God’s standard and realize none of us is even close. That’s why we all need Jesus. He doesn’t care HOW we sin because it’s ALL bad and unless we surrender it at the foot of His cross, we can’t draw near to a holy God. Whether black or white, angry or alcoholic, we all face the same struggles and need the same Jesus. Recovery doesn’t care what color you are or what your hang up is, because all our hearts are dark until the light shines on them. Revelation 7:9 says that around God’s throne are people from “every nation, tribe, and tongue.” And many of them discovered how to get there by going to Recovery.
Final Thought: Recovery doesn’t care about your race or your sin struggle because everyone needs Jesus.
Prayer: Lord, help me stop playing “Whose sin is worse?” and be honest with you about my own. You don’t care about the externals we use to judge each other. We all have sin-darkened hearts and only your light can heal us. In Jesus name, amen.
Friday— Bryce and Judy’s Story
They’d tried everything: marriage counseling, trial separation, even an open marriage. Nothing had worked and they were one paper away from finalizing their divorce. “Ron told me about a recovery program at his church,” Bryce said one day. “You wanna try it?” Judy shrugged. “Recovery? Don’t see how that applies, but what have we got to lose?” she asked. “If it doesn’t work, we can always go through with the divorce.” Skeptical, they attended Monday night’s CP Recovery and heard about Jesus, the Great Healer. They surrendered their lives to Him and discovered that when each was seeking God, they could only grow closer together. To celebrate their twentieth anniversary, they threw a party and burned the divorce papers.
The world doesn’t have any answers. It can show us how to manage or drown our problems, but it has no idea how to overcome them. Bryce and Judy had tried for twenty years to fix their marriage the world’s way and found no answers. They thought divorce was the only way to peace. But when they bowed at the cross, they each laid down their own agendas and surrendered to His. They learned that it wasn’t about getting religious or going to church. It was about a transfer of ownership. Their lives and their marriage were no longer theirs. Through small groups and discipleship, they grew in their faith and within a few years, they were leading their own small groups for couples in crisis. Recovery gave them a fresh start.
Final Thought: Couples who pursue Recovery together create a strong foundation for their marriage and family.
Prayer: Father, is this what I need to do? Do you have some things to teach me through Recovery? I want all you have for me and if I can learn to be a better follower, I’m in. Show me people who also need this and I’ll bring them with me. Amen.