“Enter his gates with thanksgiving and his courts with praise; give thanks to him and praise his name.” – Psalm 100:4
The smell of paint thinner seems to seep from every pore of my skin. He doused me in it when I wrestled the bottle from him. There is nothing uglier than losing a loved one, even temporarily, to empty eyes and hallucinations, to talk to the demons tormenting through the mouth of your son. “Father, what am I going to do now?”
My son, who was a street kid for four years, was in the middle of a drug relapse with paint thinner. He has been with me for nearly two years, spending a year of that in Teen Challenge, a drug rehab facility. He had been sober for one year and seven months, and this relapse seemed to appear from out of nowhere. I had taken him in after he called me from the hospital with a broken leg from a drugged fight. His family wanted nothing to do with him. The only other person to arrive to help was an adult who had exploited his drug addiction for prostitution (although I didn’t know that until much later).
When I was 16-years-old, long before I pondered the possibility of being a pilgrim in another land and shortly before my feet touched Honduran soil, my all-knowing Father told me the name of my first son. I forgot that word for years until the day when they were releasing my boy from the hospital, and the name was one and the same. I have fought very hard for the baby of my family of adopted children. We have walked together his long road of healing from generational drug addiction, abandonment, sexual abuse, extreme poverty, and delinquency.
“It’s just a fall, Sarah. It’s not the end of the world. Just let him come off of it and talk to him. God can still do the work of restoration,” said the leader from Teen Challenge on the phone. The problem was that my son was angry, violent, and adamant about grabbing his stuff to return to the streets. I love my son more than I could ever put into words even though we don’t have the same blood coursing through our veins. God knew he was meant to be mine. I may not have carried him in my womb or pushed him in a stroller, but I carried him as a prophecy in my heart and pushed him in a wheelchair leaving the hospital. God heard his prayers from childhood asking for a mami, and He granted him me.
It was a battle of will and love for hours reminding him of Jesus’ blood and his value and refusing to let him go back to the streets. It was the type of fight where you can feel a soul on the brink, hanging in the balance of eternity.
But, he still disappeared with a hidden bottle of paint thinner even without his stuff. I had no idea where he was and collapsed in tears asking my Papa, “Now what am I supposed to do? Two years, only to lose him now?” The only answer I heard whispered in my spirit was, “Just worship Me.” That would not have been my instinct, but I obeyed.
Raúl, my boyfriend, and my other son began to walk my whole house interceding, rebuking the powers of darkness, and calling for mercy for my prodigal child. I went into my room, put on some worship music, and just began to tell God how worthy He is even in the midst of uncertainty and pain. I just began to enter His presence with thanksgiving, changing my attitude from despair to gratefulness. “Even if I lose him, You are worthy. I did it for You, so it was worth it.” With hands raised and between tears, I felt His embrace and heard Him say, “Rest. Your greatest weapon in this trial is rest. The Lord fights for you. You need only be still.”
Hours later, deep into the night, my baby was home. He was once again in his right mind sitting on the couch, crying. “Mami, it’s me again. It’s your real son again. Why do you keep fighting for me? I’m such a piece of trash. Why don’t I ever change?” We talked of God’s grace and that our imperfections just show us our desperate need for our Savior, Jesus. I held him and prayed over him and wiped away his tears until he was ready to sleep. “I was so close to losing him, but you won the battle, Jesus.”
It was a painful trial, and we still have a long road ahead of picking him back up, but I learned something important in the midst of that crisis. Our greatest weapon is often rest. It is choosing not to open the door to despair, fear, the overdose of the “what-ifs,” or entitlement but instead to enter His presence with wonder, thanksgiving, and praise even when we don’t have an answer. There is something about entering that secret place that gives the angels the power to fight for us and that strengthens our faith to believe for the impossible.
When was a time that God’s presence proved to be greater than your circumstances?
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