We have lived with the pain of addiction in our household for many years. The process of recovery has been life giving and spiritually defining for both my husband and I. However, the road of recovery has been a long, narrow, rocky pathway full of peeks, valleys and sharp turns. I’ve learned that at it’s root addiction, any addiction, is an adulterous relationship with self desire. And that selfishness is a jealous, stubborn lover. While actively engaged in this relationship you lose all control over your body and your senses. This is what I was thinking about when I was reading about Jesus healing the paralytic, a man who has lost all control over his body.
“17One day as he was teaching, Pharisees and teachers of the law, who had come from every village of Galilee and from Judea and Jerusalem, were sitting there. And the power of the Lord was present for him to heal the sick. 18Some men came carrying a paralytic on a mat and tried to take him into the house to lay him before Jesus. 19When they could not find a way to do this because of the crowd, they went up on the roof and lowered him on his mat through the tiles into the middle of the crowd, right in front of Jesus” Luke 5:17-19
In this passage the paralyzed man, the man who had lost total control of himself, clearly needs the healing power of Jesus. Despite any desire he may have to seek recovery from his affliction and forgiveness for his sin (v.20) he has become a prisoner to his body, locked in by his disease, unable to move past himself to the place of healing. I know this feeling, we have been there.
Here’s the cool part. Jesus gives us the perfect illustration of the recovery process as he designed it. “Some men came carrying a paralytic on a mat and tried to take him into the house to lay him before Jesus”. In all of our experience with addiction recovery the one thing that stands out over and over, in almost every addicts story is the thought that recovery is a puzzle to be solved alone. But Jesus shows us that healing comes when we share our burden with others and they draw along side us, leading us on the path to healing when we don’t have the ability to get there ourselves. I especially love the persistence and tenacity that these guys show in verse 19. Even though they are met by hurdles (it’s too crowded, I relapse, this guy is really heavy too carry, I relapse) they don’t give up until they are in the presence of the Lord. It is impossible to experience recovery alone.
Unfortunately, the shame of addiction locks people out. It actually repels help from the outside. While addiction is a lonely condition, recovery from addiction only happens within the context of community. It only happens when you are honest with others about the reality of your condition (you are paralyzed by the grip of addiction) and are ready to allow some really good guys in. Guys, or girls, who are strong enough in character to pick you up and not let go until you are in the presence of hope.
If you have a story about addiction or the recovery process please feel free to share it along with any comments about Luke Chapter 5. Sharing our story is the first step in picking up the mat.
Tomorrow I’ll be reading Luke 6 and 7
Looking for a good group of folks to help carry your mat? Try these links:
Alcoholics Anonymous: http://www.aa.org/?Media=PlayFlash
Narcotics Anonymous: http://www.na.org/
Celebrate Recovery: http://www.celebraterecovery.com/
Mark Driscoll’s free e-book on pornography and masturbation http://relit.org/porn_again_christian/
Every Man’s Battle: http://www.everymansbattle.com/
In the Detroit area The Woods addiction support group: http://www.wwnazarene.org/ministries/groups/support.php#addiction