I felt like Bruce was preparing us for boot camp. It was as if we were going to be running an obstacle course with spikes, fire, and mythical creatures involved. I laughed it off, but Bruce was not laughing. He was serious.
“It is possible that this will be the hardest thing you have done, or ever will do in your life. We are in the demon killing business and this is no time to be afraid.”
My family and I had been dealing with a demon for several years at this point. My brother in law had been struggling with a drug addiction and it had taken over his life. There was no getting away from it. It consumed everything. We had already gone through periods of hope, wishful thinking, and even anger. Now, our prayers had dried up. We couldn’t pray in faith anymore because we thought there was nothing left to pray. This was a job even too big for God.
Bruce was a professional counselor who specialized in drug interventions. If you don’t know what an intervention is, let me explain. An intervention is a group ambush on a person that is so lost in their addiction that they are now defending and feeding it regularly. It is a conversation defined by structured confrontation, and serious ultimatums.
That’s not me. I am a pastor. Until that point, I was content with side stepping hard truth with “more comfortably presented” versions of truth. I was a people pleaser.
After years of his struggle with hard drugs, stealing, and running away from God, our last ditch effort to bring him back was this awkward time of confrontation. Family came from out of state. The army was mobilizing.
The day the intervention was planned was the same day I planned to walk across the stage and receive my Master’s degree. A great day; ruined.
The evening before this event we met with the counselor and went through a rehearsal of sorts, and he gave us an outline guiding us on how to write our speeches. Also, he laid down ground rules. We were to be steadfast, and unwavering. We were not supposed to take “no” for an answer. The idea was to confront my brother in law with our concern for him and tell him he needs to get help…and…if he doesn’t…we would be forced to push him away. No contact. No support. No enabling. Nothing. He would also be forced to live on the street. Sometimes love is stupid.
We rehearsed the night before, and the next day we met at McDonald’s beforehand to go through final procedures and pray. As a united front, we drove to the house, and woke my brother in law up for the battle. We passionately pleaded our case and Ryan (brother in law) sat there listening politely even though he was visibly shaken by being ambushed. The conversation seemed to last an eternity. Crying was involved. Yelling was included.
In the end, Ryan refused to go to treatment. It was heartbreaking. God had let us down. The counselor said that most people change their mind within 90 days. Ryan didn’t. God was still not answering our prayers.
After losing all hope, and feeling that God was saying “no” to our plea, something miraculous happened. Ryan, who had refused to enter into the battle of recovery, decided to enter a facility to get help. 9 months later, our prayers (that we had gotten tired of praying), were answered. God did a miracle in His timing….even if it felt too late in our hearts and minds.
We found out later that he was being told lies when he spent his time with people on the streets. He was told that “no one” had ever recovered from the addiction that he had, and that he might as well give up. He tried so hard to fix it on his own, but those lies were burned into his brain.
The facility he went to for help refused to let him in. Apparently there were no beds available. Ryan became angry and would not take “no” for an answer. The caseworker looked at Ryan with a sly grin, and enrolled him. They wanted to see his fight and stubbornness. They wanted to see his anger with his current situation.
They lied. It was a holy lie…if those exist.
Also, the caseworker informed him that he was a byproduct of this place, and he once struggled with the same addiction.
There was hope again.
Today, 5 years after that intervention. Ryan is an incredible, transformed, passionate brother. He loves his family, and is generous with the money that he has. Recovery is not easy, but daily he is getting stronger and goes to meetings multiple times a week. He is an advocate for change and recovery.
That day revolutionized who I was as a pastor. I was given a new perspective about pain and suffering. Also, I became a better leader who is intentional about truth.
I am so proud of him. I am also so thankful that God’s timing is perfect. God listens even when we think it is too late.
Don’t give up.