One of those who was in and out, in and out, in and out
Of the prison of addiction.
Thank God that at the end he was out –
Redeemed by the blood of the Lamb,
Clean and sober and in his right mind,
A new man in Christ,
A part of The Salvation Army.
Mike stood strong and tall in his new life;
Grateful and even proud of the man he had become.
Handsome, charming, good with words
And able to make friends with anyone.
Unendingly committed to the wife God gave him
In this new life – Anita.
He loved to worship and sang in his own voice.
He loved to hear the Word of Life and was always, always ready
To share his experience of forgiveness and salvation
With someone needing a new start.
When the demons of addiction won, and sometimes they did,
Mike knew where to turn when it was time to start again
And begin one more time the count of how many days and weeks clean.
He cried out to God, to his pastor and friend, to his church;
Not willing to stay in the prison of failure and sin
When there was a way out and a way back home.
A new life, born again by the mercy of God,
Does not always undo years of abuse and neglect and sin.
The scars remain, and often the consequences of choices remain
To tell the final chapter of a redeemed life.
The soul can be clean, and the body be left to deal with sickness.
By the grace of God we can be victorious even then,
And the drug addict/alcoholic/violent/selfish man can face death
With courage and a song in his heart.
He can be a witness to God’s unfailing goodness even then,
Knowing that his salvation is complete and that grace will bring him home.
This is Mike. This is RJ. This is Dennis.
This is even Carlos, whose story is sadder.
This is thousands of Bills, Juans, Toms, Jennifers, Marias, and all their friends.
This is the story and the truth of redemption.
This is a wail of praise, a sob of praise, a shout of praise at the graveside.
This is the hope of heaven that we live with in this world
That gives us joy in sorrow, peace in pain, trust in doubt.
This is victory.
This is Mike.