This Easter, the majority of the Christian world will commemorate the agonizing crucifixion and glorious resurrection of Jesus Christ, the Savior of the world. Jesus carried out this act of supreme sacrifice, also referred to as Christ’s Atonement, to reclaim the people of the world from death and sin.
In the Holy Bible, John writes this of Christ: “Greater love hath no man than this, that a man lay down his life for his friends” (John 15:13). When battling an addiction, we often don’t feel worthy of being anyone’s friend, least of all that of the God of the universe. We tend to feel broken, defective, and beyond the reach of the love and grace of our Savior.
As a recovering addict, our COO here at Renaissance Ranch, Preston Dixon, feels just the opposite. Here are some of his thoughts on the importance of Christ’s Atonement in his life and how believing in a just and loving Savior has aided him in his recovery.
Renaissance Ranch (RR): What does the Atonement of Christ mean to you personally?
Preston: This is a tough question. In a way, it means more than I can put into words. To try and simplify, I believe that Jesus Christ atoned for not only my sins but the sins of everyone who has lived and will ever live here on earth. To me, personally, it means I can have peace and not feel shame or guilt for things that I have done in the past as long as I have repented for such things.
RR: How has your understanding of the Atonement grown as you have progressed through treatment, recovery, and onto being a resource for others in their recovery?
Preston: My understanding of the Atonement has certainly grown through treatment and my recovery. I have seen others’ lives blessed as they work the 12 steps of recovery, which I believe is a practical application of the Atonement.
1. Honesty – Admit that we are powerless to overcome our addiction and that our life has become unmanageable.
2. Hope – Come to believe that a power greater than ourselves can restore us to sanity.
3. Trust in God – Decide to turn our will and our life over to the care of God as we understand Him.
4. Truth – Make a searching and fearless moral inventory of ourselves.
5. Confession – Admit to God, ourselves, and another human being the exact nature of our wrongs.
6. Change of Heart – Become entirely ready to have God remove all our defects of character.
7. Humility – Humbly ask God to remove our shortcomings.
8. Seeking Forgiveness – Make a list of all persons we have harmed and become willing to make amends to them all.
9. Restitution & Reconciliation – Make direct amends to such people wherever possible, except when to do so would injure them or others.
10. Daily Accountability – Continue to take personal inventory, and when we are wrong, promptly admit it.
11. Personal Revelation – Seek through prayer and meditation to improve our conscious contact with God as we know Him, praying only for knowledge of His will for us and the power to carry that out.
12. Service – Having had a spiritual awakening as a result of these steps, we try to carry this message to others and practice these principles in all our affairs.
RR: Why do you feel that belief and faith in Christ are essential parts of addiction recovery?
Preston: I believe that many people continue to use drugs and alcohol because they can’t seem to get past or forgive themselves for things they have done. Knowing and understanding that a higher power accepts and loves us is paramount to one’s success in being able to take the necessary steps in the repentance and forgiveness process.
RR: What would you tell someone suffering from addiction and struggling with believing in a higher power?
Preston: I typically don’t “tell” people anything. I try to connect with them as a human being. Once there is a connection, I can ask them if they are open to feedback or suggestions. This never works unless there is a genuine connection. I would then share with them my experience on how I found God and how I was able to get clean and sober, and then give them a few simple suggestions. I would suggest to them to be willing to have faith in a power greater themselves and to attend the appropriate meetings, such as Alcoholics Anonymous. If their addiction is bad enough, I would suggest they look into attending treatment for their addiction and provide a few resources.
As Preston and our other team members here at our Christian-based treatment center will tell you, the message of the gospel of Jesus Christ is clear: The Savior’s love encompasses everyone. There is no depth to which we can sink where His love can’t reach us, regardless of what we have done or the pain we may have caused. He offers us the way back to an abundant life; we just have to take it.