It is 10:30 on Thursday morning at the Home of Grace for Women. Only days before, you were torn from the extended arms of your crying babies, “Momma, where are you going? When will you be back?”
The echoes of their sobs still reverberate in your unsettling thoughts. Entering this recovery program did not happen quickly, nor was it voluntary. Over many years since your back pain began, the #10 Lortab abuse grew worse. 30 tablets a day became your new normal. At times the pain was so great that you supplemented the prescription drug with alcohol. Later, you began to take any pain medication you could get your hands on, but it was the law of diminishing returns. There was no remedy in sight. You felt trapped. One problem fed the other creating an endless cycle. Driven by your need, you began stealing from medicine cabinets and regularly lied to hide it. Fear of being caught and guilt gradually numbed your conscience to the point that you were beginning not to care. Attractiveness and personal hygiene became less important than the constant pursuit of pain remedies. It drove you to abandon your virtue as a young woman. You were once soft and innocent. Now you have become hardened.
It was buying drugs on the street and falsifying your ID at the drug store that landed you in jail. No, this did not happen overnight. Now the possibility for getting your life back rested upon getting through this program. If you can just do your time here, maybe…
You enter this classroom along with 36 other women to listen to a man accompanied by his wife. He is here to talk about his personal journey of deliverance from alcoholism and what he discovered in the Bible.
Even though it is difficult to focus, as he talks, you undeniably connect with what he says Jesus taught him. Soon the connection turns to amazement. Jesus’ teaching fits you perfectly! Thus begins a faint glimmer of hope.
He starts, “Good Morning Ladies! My name is Gary Browning, a grateful, recovering alcoholic since 1991 and I came to tell you that no matter how dark your future may seem right now, if you will open your heart, there may be a different end to your story than what you have imagined!”
With that he invites the group to open their Bibles and find Luke 14:25, 28-30, 33 He asks one of the ladies to read out loud.
Now great multitudes went with Him. And He turned and said to them…For which of you, intending to build a tower, does not sit down first and count the cost, whether he has enough to finish it---lest, after he has laid the foundation, and is not able to finish, all who see it begin to mock him, saying, “This man began to build and was not able to finish.”
So likewise, whoever of you does not forsake all that he has cannot be My disciple.
At the conclusion of his message, he says, “Today, I appeal to you to start building with me a tower, a testimony, a legacy of success. Which of you are willing to join me in this pursuit?”
As Gary closes in prayer, several ladies come forward for prayer. Even though there is no traditional invitation, I privately tell the Lord, “If You will help me, I want to accept this challenge. I want to say yes to You.”
Every week Linda and I witness many ladies opening their hearts to God’s love and forgiveness. Beyond this, they accept His challenge to become disciples, not just followers of the crowd, to become builders for the Kingdom of God, forsaking a destructive lifestyle! What a great joy to be part of this process! Thank you for helping us carry the message!
- Gary Browning