I write this email from Orange County California, where I am spending a little over a month in drug rehab. As many of you know, in the last couple of years I’ve become addicted to pain pills. It all started with back problems while I was taking care of my mother but then it spiraled out of control. So it is with trepidation that I write a seasons greetings to you.
Rehab, as you can imagine has been a humbling experience in many ways. All the things that I have to say and all the things that I have learned will probably come out in my blog over the next year (and will definitely be with me the rest of my life).
I am so thankful to so many of you who have offered your support, prayers, and understanding. Again, with many feeling of inadequacy, I will share some things.
The other day I did a Bible study at my house that I am staying at with a couple of people. It was the story of the rich man and Lazarus. If you remember, in the story the rich man calls on Abraham and asked him to send a person back from the dead so that his brothers would be convinced of the truths of God. Abraham did not concede.
As I shared the story I attempted to apply it to the lives of those listening (who were interested in the Gospel, but still unconvinced). I told them that in every area of life there are things that we are not one-hundred percent convinced of yet, but are worthy of strong belief. The rich man wanted his brothers to be further convinced of the Gospel. But Abraham said they have Moses and the prophets, if they don’t believe them then they won’t be convinced even if someone rises from the dead.
We only need to be convinced ENOUGH to place our lives in Christ. We don’t have to have perfect understanding, knowledge, or faith. But like the Rich Man, we are always looking for a little more convincing before we believe. The “Yeah, buts…” become endless.
That’s the principal I brought them. But a funny thing happened today. I discovered that I was being a bit hypocritical. You see as I’ve been here at the drug rehab going through all the “groups,” all AA, CA, and NA meetings, and meeting with my therapist, I had been making every excuse to believe that this stuff does not apply to me. “Maybe this is for other people, but not for me.” “I mean, I was only on pain pills; these guys are on meth, cocaine, crack, and heroin. “I have only been taking them for a little while; they have been hooked for years and years.” “You don’t HAVE to get a sponsor to kick this; but they say you do.” “If I am in Christ, I am no longer identified with my sin; why do I have to say ‘I am an addict’ all the time.”
I pick away at little things as an excuse not to do the big things. I just didn’t want to be convinced enough that this program works for me.
But, in truth, there is definitely enough here for me to be convinced ENOUGH of my problems and convinced ENOUGH that I need to continue to seek help when I get home. And this I will do.
You may be sitting there this Christmas season not being very committed to Christ because you’re not “convinced enough.” Sure, you may be really convinced, but you find every excuse not to turn your life over to Him. But I imagine many of you are convinced enough. I am.
Now, having said that, I have to get ready for an AA meeting. And even though I don’t like alcohol and I rarely drink, I am convinced enough that this is exactly what I need.
Christmas Blessings to you all.
C. Michael Patton is the primary contributor to the Parchment and Pen/Credo House Blog. He has been in ministry for nearly twenty years as a pastor, author, speaker, and blogger.
Th.M. Dallas Theological Seminary (2001), president of Credo House Ministries and Credo Courses, author of Now that I’m a Christian (Crossway, 2014) Increase My Faith (Credo House, 2011), and The Theology Program (Reclaiming the Mind Ministries, 2001-2006), host of Theology Unplugged, and primary blogger here at Parchment and Pen. But, most importantly, husband to a beautiful wife and father to four awesome children. Michael is available for speaking engagements. He can be contacted at [email protected]