Reading a book isn’t like watching a movie. You get a visual image in a movie, but in a book, the writer strives to create a visual image for you through words. In a movie, you see facial expressions, what a person looks like, whether it’s day or night. A writer has to tell you those things.
So much can be determined about a person’s state of mind by their body language, the things they say, their facial expressions, and their eyes.
He gave so much away by all the things I just mentioned. It was easy to detect the despair he felt, the hopelessness. He was a co-worker when I worked at Teen Challenge – an international faith-based ministry that helps individuals with drug, alcohol and other life-controlling issues and addictions.
Although I wasn’t one that had, most employees are those who have previously gone through the rehabilitation program. This young man had come to be on staff in Arizona after completing a Teen Challenge back east.
A nice young man, he did very well for awhile. Then he was gone, just took off and no one knew where he was. After several days, someone reported seeing him in a dive motel across town. Some of our guys went to rescue him. He had fallen – fallen to the lure of prostitutes and drugs. When they brought him back, he was a mess.
Teen Challenge is all about restoring people with God’s help, but this young man could not overcome the shame of his failure. It was a cloak he put on himself. Everyone was showing him love and compassion. I’d pass him several times a day. The slump of his body, his countenance and demeanor said it all. He was ashamed and discouraged. He kept his head hung and wouldn’t look you in the eyes when you spoke to him.
One day I said, “Why are you allowing your failure to beat you down like this? God forgives and restores. Accept that. We all love you. Others here have fallen. You're not the only one.”
Unable to overcome his shame, he left. Weeks later, our director received a phone call from a motel manager up the street. This young man had been found in his room dead from a drug overdose. He had been dead for a few days before they discovered him. I had already gone home for the day when another co-worker called to tell me. I laid my head on the kitchen table and sobbed.
Failure isn’t the final say in our lives unless we allow it to be. Are you discouraged? Do you feel defeated, ashamed, humiliated, desperate, hopeless? God is able to bring hope and joy and peace into your life. It might not be instantaneous, but if you allow Him to help you, it will come.
There but for the grace of God go any of us.