TITLE: The Second Chance
By Celeste Duckworth
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The Second Chance
Our son, John had volunteered to enter the Teen Challenge Drug Recovery in San Diego, California over seven weeks ago. We were not allowed to visit him for 30 plus days depending on how things went at the entry level for him. It had been sixty days when we got the call that we could go and visit him.
My husband and I were driving from Rialto, some two hours away from his facility which was in a church basement. John’s drug habit, we had discovered, had a ten year life and six of those years we did not have a clue he was addicted to methamphetamine. The last four years were a terrifying nightmare of fighting, theft and every kind of dark sided horror. We had asked him to leave home five times before he finally got scared enough and ran out of resources before he volunteered to enter the one year program.
When he was in school, he still got straight A’s. How could we have not noticed and why didn’t we pay attention to the signs? He was now twenty-four and addicted. The guilt and remorse of the parents of these kids is loud and condemning. I wished we could have a second chance. My husband and I drove most of the way in silence, me looking out the window and hardly believing still that we were in this situation. Would he be John again? What if this didn’t work? What if he leaves Teen Challenge, what would be our plan of action? Mostly, would our son ever be freed from his prison? The next few hours would tell. Teen Challenge has the highest lifetime cure rate in the entire world and that cure is only 86%. Many do not make it out to freedom. Teen Challenge and God gave us our only qualified, sliver of hope.
I was recalling when John had finally confessed to us that he was addicted beyond his ability to stop, and then my husband cried with his head cradled in his arms on the dining room table. I crumbled as well. Our son, still under the influence, simply walked upstairs and left us to our shared grief.
God was with us during this time as a bed opened up for John in five weeks. Time was essential because being an addict meant ones reserve could reverse at any given time. He could walk away from this program at any time, but being extremely far from home made that tough.
Our hope was in the fact that God had a four year log on the prayers that were sent up on John’s behalf from our church and especially from me, his mom. When I could not sleep, I would quietly go down stairs and scream into a pillow and give back to God all my fears and pain over this child. In some respects I drew a line in the sand and would not let the enemy of his soul have him. The prayers escalated to prayers for the salvation of the drug dealers, and the removal of their homes to force out the drug resources for other parent’s kids. I also asked God to heal the land and city where the drugs were sold. “Oh, Earth, Earth, Earth, hear ye the Word of the Lord,” I’d pray.
The car’s tires crunching on the gravel driveway into the church parking lot brought me back to the present. Immediately we were met by one of the kids who helped us to empty out the car carrying food, a basketball, sodas, and donated clothing. When the kid spoke to us, his voice sounded familiar, it was John! Our shocked looks were replaced with joy, elation, tears and bear hugs. John was clean, had buzzed off hair, he was wearing clean clothes, and especially very thrilled to see us. The glad to see us part hadn’t been around for years. John even stood taller than I remembered. Gone were the angry eyes, the frail, thin, bent over body, and the rebellion in his heart. All my fears and doubts dissolved as I saw a miracle standing before me, the answered prayer in the form of a man, my son, delivered from his prison. He still had ten months of discipleship but he was on his way. Jesus truly had returned my son back to me and gave our family the second chance we all needed.
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