If we’re honest, we all are enslaved to something. Whether enormous or tiny, illegal or socially acceptable, we all have temptations that won’t stop whispering.
Danielle Strickland knows this all too well.
As a Captain in the Salvation Army, she spends her days scouring the streets to find drug addicts and pray with them and visits brothels to minister to prostitutes.
Yet addiction isn’t just something those she serves struggle with…it’s something she struggles with.
Her new book, The Ultimate Exodus: Finding Freedom from What Enslaves You, (NavPress) calls us to greater freedom than we’ve ever known before… listen to her words:
“I’m a recovering addict.”
I hate saying that because I like to try and convince myself that I’ve got it licked.
I want to believe that I’m strong enough and powerful enough in my own strength to overcome addiction. But I’m not.
Part of the process of healing for me has been admitting my powerlessness over alcohol and drugs.
It’s crazy to an outsider; it seems as though we just keep admitting defeat.
I used to believe that admitting I was powerless over alcohol was coming into agreement with “the enemy,” who would say we are addicts and there is nothing we can do about it. But now I see it a different way.
It’s actual honesty. It’s humility. It’s agreeing with the truth that I’ve got the scars of oppression in my life and I can’t do anything about it.
It’s admitting that I’ve tried and failed, over and over again. It’s coming to the end of myself.
That’s the point when I can respond to God, who has the power I need to overcome.
With humility comes grace. With grace comes the presence of God. With the presence of God comes power—the power to overcome, the power to heal, the power to advance, the power to change, the power to shift heaven and earth. God has power. But to access this power requires humility and surrender. Every addict knows this. And every child of God should know this too.
I often wonder how many times we miss God because we keep expecting the supernatural signs instead of the natural wonders all around us.
Years ago I felt called to plant a church in a very depressing place. It was a concrete jungle of oppression. I was walking on the sidewalk as I set out to survey the land when I saw it. Between the cracks of the sidewalk there was a flower. It was beautiful. Everything was concrete, but that little flower grew right through it. The concrete could not stop life from coming.
I felt something happen that day in me. I went over to the flower. I took a picture. I thanked God for the reminder that he planted and grew life and that no amount of human construction could stop the inevitable spring of his kingdom. He was coming to this world if he had to push his way through concrete. But he was coming.
I felt hope.
It was such a small experience—I wish it had been a meteor that fell from the sky and left a massive hole in the earth and everyone in the neighborhood repented and I was able to call it a day and move on. That’s not what it was. But it shifted something in me. I noticed it. And I went over. And something shifted in me, something grew in me. Hope.
That image is now tattooed on my arm so I never forget. One of the first people I met in that neighborhood, seemingly a hopeless case at the time, was named Flower.
I hoped for Flower because God had planted hope in me. A normal day. A normal me. A normal flower. On fire.
Earth’s crammed with heaven,
And every common bush afire with God,
But only he who sees takes off his shoes;
The rest sit round and pluck blackberries.
-Elizabeth Barrett Browning
How might God be trying to get your attention? Have you been looking for a big sign? Is there a whisper you should be listening for?
Thanks to our friends at Tyndale House Publishers for sponsoring this post. Pick up a copy of The Ultimate Exodus: Finding Freedom from What Enslaves You today.