“The thief comes only to steal and kill and destroy; I have come that they may have life, and have it to the full.” John 10:10 NIV
I will never forget the day addiction knocked at our door for the first time. It came in quietly, unannounced. We were the typical (if there is such a thing), All-American family. What did we have to worry about?
There's A Storm A-Brewin'
Being from the Midwest, I spent my summers there growing up. Tornadoes were normal during that time of year. There was usually a calm before the storm and then the clouds would start to move in. As the tornado approached, sirens would alert us that it was time to seek shelter. Because we were prepared for these storms, if we heeded the warning, we could get to safety and wait it out.
When I grew up, got married and started to raise our children, it was easy to believe that because we built our house on a firm foundation and its walls out of brick and mortar, our family would be able to withstand the tornado-force winds that the enemy blew upon it.
Instead, I felt like one of the Three Little Pigs in the classic children's story. You know the one who built his house out of straw? All the Big Bad Wolf had to do was to huff and puff, and that house blew right down! All it was good for was kindle for the fireplace.
What had I missed? I thought we were prepared for any storm that might beat against our house and against our children. What I quickly learned was that while we had prepared for the big storms, the ones with all the harsh winds and loud bells and whistles, in reality, we were not as well prepared as I thought.
I was convinced we would recognize the bad influences and be able to protect our children from them. I would censor their television programs and video games. "No rated TV-17 and older for you! You're only 16!"
That kid from school with the ear piercing? He's trouble. No spending the night at his house. No visiting the homes of kids whose parents we didn't know. In fact, we tried to limit friends to the ones they met at Christian school and church. That was guaranteed safe, right? Right!! We'll keep our home and family safe!
What we are often not prepared for, though, is the quiet, unobtrusive knock on the door. I mean, who would think Evil would show up like our next door neighbor and that we would open the front door and let it in?
In the book of Genesis the Lord spoke to Cain this warning,
"...sin is crouching at your door; it desires to have you, but you must rule over it." Genesis 4:7 NIV
As parents, it was comforting to believe that if we raised our children to be aware of the difference between good and evil, they would recognize Evil when it came knocking. If only it were that simple. How could we expect them to recognize it if we also were vulnerable to the lies of this present day?
Evil is quite clever in its approach to deception. It doesn't kick the door down and announce itself. "Hey, I'm Evil. Can we be friends? Want to come over to my house and play?" Instead, it woos us and our children, convincing us that it is harmless. In fact, it is even so bold as to say that it is good for us. Our hearts are easily deceived, and so are those of our children.
"But I am afraid that just as Eve was deceived by the serpent's cunning, your minds may somehow be led astray from your sincere and pure devotion to Christ." 2 Corinthians 11:3 NIV
There are many things that pull at the hearts and minds of our children; addiction is just one of them. Money, fame, education, sports are all vying for position in their lives. Their attention, like ours, is pulled in a dozen different directions.
So, while I drove my kids to basketball practice and music lessons and hurried them through their homework and chores, sin was crouching at our door. And all these activities, while they were important, were never meant to be our priority.
If only it were as simply as saying, "Jesus, you are my first priority! You are my only priority!" It's not always easy to live in the real world and keep Jesus as our #1 priority, is it? It's not easy for our children either.
Sound the Alarm!
The day addiction knocked at our door, it walked in quietly. No alarms or sirens were sounded to warn us that it was here. To say we were caught off guard was an understatement. To say I hit the panic button is also one.
The day addiction slipped in, it didn’t just sit like a proper gentleman on the living room sofa either. It kicked off its shoes and ran straight for the family room. It was planning to stay a while.
The destruction it left in its wake looked like the Tasmanian Devil set a bomb off in our house. We experienced total devastation. The home we thought was built on a firm foundation scattered like straw in the wind with just one blow of his mighty breath.
Our lives would never be the same. But while Evil was busy huffing and puffing, God had a plan. He always has a plan, and our destruction is definitely not part of it.
"For I know the plans I have for you," declares the Lord, "plans to prosper you and not to harm you, plans to give you hope and a future." Jeremiah 29:11 NIV
The Lord knew all along that sin was crouching at our door and bidding for our attention. He knew Evil's plan was to distract us from our Lord, and in doing so, we would forget to shut the door all the way and bolt-lock it after us.
He also knew that EVEN IF we had done everything right and put padlocks on every door and window, Evil would slip down the fireplace to get into our homes. It was there, after all, to steal the hearts and minds of our children and of our family.
The day addiction knocked at our door is a day I will never forget. Because of it, I will never be the same. I will remember that day because it had the power to make or break my faith. It screamed at me, "Bad Mom" and "Bad Christian". It caused me to doubt whether I had any real faith at all. The collateral damage in its wake left me and my family unrecognizable. Each of us was forever changed.
But, God was faithful. He knew this would be a big test caused by one of the worst storms our family had ever encountered. He reassured me that He was still there and wasn't going anywhere. "Take your eyes off the storm. Just keep them fixed on Me,and I will keep you safe," Jesus gently reminded me.
That's what I have been trying to do every since. The day addiction showed up at our door was life changing for all of us. For me, it taught me that the enemy has no limit to the destruction he intends to bring on our families. That day also showed me that there is no limit to the love of God and where He will go to bring his children back to Him. I learned that the Lord is faithful even in the chaos. He will bring peace to the raging storm.
Whether your family's struggle is with addiction or mental illness or any other type of life-challenging situation, God is there and He has a plan. If you are dealing with some unexpected tragedy or crisis, you are not alone. May you know how very loved you are by a compassionate God who promises to be with you through it all.
Ephesians 3:17b-19: And I pray that you, being rooted and established in love, may have the power, together with all the Lord's people, to grasp how wide and long and high and deep is the love of Christ, and to know this love that surpasses knowledge-that you may be filled to the measure of all the fullness of God."