As part of my job as a pastor at Midtown, I get the privilege of running our Recovery ministry. Being a part of Recovery has challenged me to no end, and it has absolutely been my favorite part of ministry so far. Getting to walk beside people learning how the gospel of Jesus frees them from slavery to sin and also heals scars from sins committed against them is nothing short of beautiful. Weighty, for sure. But beautiful.
One thing I’m grateful for is just how real it is. It is a constant reminder that beneath all of the “hey-how-are-you-fine-I’m-just-fine” there is a whole world of everyday heartache and we are fools if we think the people we pass everyday aren’t carrying near suffocating loads.
A few times a year, we start a new Recovery cycle and have a brand new group of people walk into the room, all carrying their various loads. They are, naturally, often unsure about the whole process. I can see it in their eyes. No doubt, it can be a scary thing to walk into an environment like that, and it takes a lot of courage to overcome the many fears that want to keep you away.
But to all of the doubts, hesitations, and timidity in the room, all I can do is smile. Because I’ve seen it all before. I know how it ends for so many of them.
I’ve seen the hard faces and too-tough-for-this attitudes melt.
I’ve seen the hopeless relinquish their despair and grasp onto the hope shouting at them from all angles.
I’ve seen the tears of anguish turn into tears of joy.
I’ve seen Jesus do work. Because that’s what He does. All the time.
I know that in just a few months, many of those in that same group will be sitting in a big circle, telling the rest of us all that Jesus has done in them. Testifying to the faithfulness of God.
I want to walk up to the people sitting there, tap them on the shoulder and whisper, “You will be so different.”
Not perfect. Not sinless or struggle-less. But your story, identity, or direction will somehow be different.
Of course, it won’t be easy. Change, repentance and healing never are. Like we say a lot:
Grace is not an anesthetic. You have to go through the pain.
Walking out into the light hurts your pride.
Trusting Jesus with your deepest scars is scary.
Surrendering the death-grip you have on your identity, your idols, your coping mechanisms and your wounds is the farthest thing from easy.
But it is oh so worth it.
He is so worth it.
(Ask the hordes that have come before you.)
You will be so different.