Grace in the midst of the mess

I had an opportunity to give a class on suicide awareness and intervention last night to a Celebrate Recovery class at a church nearby. It was a group of about 20 people. The group was diverse both in race and gender. There were old and young alike. Celebrate recovery applies the 12 step recovery process but is specifically Christ centered. It has brought hope to literally thousands of people around the world. In this little group I met two people that really struck me. During my workshop I deal with what you should do when a person is dangerously close to suicide and has a weapon. I talk about removing the weapon from the person. As I was doing this portion I noticed this lady break down and sob. I obviously knew that this had touched a chord with her and apologized publicly for opening an old wound for her. She came up to me after the lesson was over and shared with me why she became so emotional. It seems that 14 years ago her daughter had a friend who was suicidal and had a gun in his mouth threatening to pull the trigger. This woman's daughter grabbed the gun and a struggle ensued at which point the firearm discharged and the round struck her daughter in the neck. The would severed her spinal cord and and she has been paralyzed ever since. I was dumbfounded as she shared this story. To think that her daughter cared enough to physically wrestle with her friend to save his life at risk of her own was truly remarkable. She said her daughter gave up everything for her friend. Her friend has survived and gone on to live a healthy life. She is stuck in a wheelchair for the rest of her life. As you can imagine both mother and daughter have struggled with these events.

The other lady I met had been a heroin addict for 30 years. She showed me the ravages of addiction on her arms, needle scars even between her fingers. A young man was there speaking with me and mentioned that he had though about doing heroin and she overheard. Immediately she jumped into the conversation showing this young man her arms and telling him of the years she spent in jails and in poverty and addiction. She told him that she had never had a childhood, only years with the needle and that her addiction had even spilled over into the lives of her kids. But 18 months ago she found freedom, freedom in the saving life of a savior who is a man of sorrows, stricken, wounded all for us, to set the captives free. It was awesome to hear the hope in her voice after so many years of despair.

In both lives there was grace in the midst of the mess, grace in the life a mother who has watched her daughter imprisoned by an act of selflessness. Grace in the life of a drug addict set free from the pit of despair. If you ever get a chance to go to a Celebrate Recovery meeting, go. If you can support one where you are support it. They are messy places, but in the midst of that mess the light and love of Jesus shine really bright.

Many props go out to my friends Peter and Renee Gray for starting this ministry at our church. For more information go to


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