The greatest Christmas gift of all
In my last post I told you a bit about the relationship I have with a special friend who I’ve had the privilege of discipling over a number of years. I have been blessed by her in so many ways but most especially by the others she has brought to me to experience the love, acceptance and healing she has found in Christ. One of them has had a really difficult year and just six weeks ago admitted she was an alcoholic.
It was a brave first step acknowledging just how broken and in need she was. The first week of her journey to recovery she did amazingly well and did not touch a drink. But on the Saturday night I got a text saying she was drunk and in trouble. I tried to get back to her but got no reply. All I could do was pray. I felt so helpless and afraid for her and totally inadequate as to know what to do. The next morning I cried out to God. I told Him I did not know how to love her and support her through this. I also thanked Him for protecting me. These relationships have given me a new appreciation of how much I have been spared by always knowing God and having Him as a presence for good and restraint in my life. I felt God answer me by saying that I did not have to feel the burden of care and responsibility. In this instance it was my friend’s role. The disciple was to become the discipler. She had been through this and worse. God would use and redeem her experience of abuse and addiction to help our friend and I was to support and encourage her in that. It was a great relief but also another important lesson in discipleship. Not only do we need to not get in the way of God but we also have to let go so that others can fulfil the role that He has called and equipped them to do. So this is what we have done – my friend gives the love and help needed and I support her as she does this.
It has worked well and our friend is now five weeks clean and sober. She has also grown hugely in her faith. A couple of weeks ago having experienced increased levels of occult activity in her house we held a small gathering to pray and bless her home. Since then she has felt much happier and more secure in the house and says that the whole atmosphere is changed. Last week when we met for bible study her neighbour was there and asked if we would pray for him. Also her ex-boyfriend came round depressed one evening so we prayed and shared amazingly accurate words of knowledge that really blessed and encouraged him! The thing that she most wanted for Christmas was her own bible. On Christmas Eve I went round with her gifts. She took one look at the present I held out to her and gasped, “Is this what I think it is?” She excitedly ripped the paper from the copy of The Message I had given her. As I left she said, “I am just so grateful that you have brought God into my life.” That for me was the best Christmas gift to receive as well as to give! I feel that this Christmas I can join with the words of Isaiah, “The people walking in darkness have seen a great light; on those living in the land of the shadow of death a light has dawned.” How gracious God is to let us in on the joy of His salvation!