Ten Life Lessons That In Triumph Taught Me
In Triumph was the tool that God used to introduce me to Christ and also disciple me in His Word. As a former addict, I walked into this program with a lot of baggage, and it was a long process before I could even start thinking correctly. I originally came here to kick my drug addiction and get some charges dropped, however, I had no idea what the Lord had in store for me. Throughout my time inside this ministry I didn’t just find freedom from my addiction; I also learned rare and valuable lessons about the Christian life and how to apply it. I want to share some of those with you today so you might be encouraged by them like I have…
1. Fold Your Blanket- When I entered the program I was overwhelmed by the idea of having to kick an addiction. Where was I supposed to begin? It was at this point that the staff at In Triumph graciously explained to me to begin folding my blanket every morning to the glory of God. This meant that I didn’t need to worry about conquering the bigger issues of my life until I took care of the smaller ones. I cannot tell you how much this helped me at the beginning of my walk. It taught me to be consistent in the smallest chores and to do them for the glory of God, no matter how I felt. It also began the process of healing because it developed a conviction inside me to have a standard about how I did things. In a crazy way, me correctly folding my blanket in morning bled over into other things I did throughout the day…
2. Become Teachable- I entered In Triumph hating any and every authority around me. Sure, it was easy to accept advice when I was under a lot of pain and needed the help. But once that pain wore off, and I thought I knew everything again, my pride was exposed if anyone provided helpful criticism. Correction is a wonderful thing to have in your life. Without it we deceive ourselves that everything we do is all wise and knowing. I had to learn this lesson through a period of years, but I cannot tell you how valuable it is. One of the mistakes I made coming in was that I wanted to defend myself every time I was corrected. It didn’t feel good for my pride to admit that I was wrong and inept when it came to my failures and sin in a particular areas. However, the staff at In Triumph taught me to deny my ego and accept that correction. In order to do that I had to change my perspective from seeing correction as offensive to seeing it as progress. I had to learn to be quiet and listen. I had to humble myself and make changes where necessary. Simply put, I had to learn to become teachable before I could be taught.
3. Serve Others With More Than Your Hands- To a junkie, service is a foreign word. I say this because I was totally self consumed with pleasuring myself through drugs and other avenues. I was entitled and I expected to be served in all facets of life. Sure, I would work hard when I had to, and I even did “nice things” for others if it made me look good, but the staff at In Triumph challenged my heart to strive for more. I had to redefine service in my mind if I wanted to truly serve others around me and find freedom from the bondage of selfishness. This meant that service wasn’t just doing “nice things” for people with my hands. I also had to give people my time, and deny myself of my feelings and moods, if I truly wanted to serve those around me.
4. Don’t Be Impulsive- Drug addicts are impulsive. We make quick decisions without having a plan. In Triumph lovingly pointed out to me how this mindset had damaged my life, and they encouraged me to count the cost before I committed to something big. (I still am learning to improve on this one!) This seems like a simple lesson, but it isn’t so simple to get down when you have been impulsive you’re entire life.
5. Consistency Despite My Feelings- In Triumph taught me that waiting to feel like doing something will keep me waiting forever. Due to the fall of man, my flesh hardly ever wants to do what is holy. I was always waiting on a new moment in my Christian life, or fresh a new spark of emotion, to motivate me to pray and read my Bible. The staff at In Triumph taught me to deny my feelings and stay obedient to God in a consistent manner… no matter what. This set me free from the mysticism of heretical Christianity and it also saved me from unnecessary condemnation over how I felt.
6. Knowledge and Wisdom Aren’t the Same- In Triumph provides any student with an amazing theological education for free. They teach us church history, biblical doctrine, and the systematics of theology. As a younger man, this knowledge is crucial to have, but it can also puff you up. This is why the teachers at In Triumph challenge their students to apply what they learn. To “know” something in my head is one thing, but to have the wisdom to act it out is quite another.
7. Failures Don’t Define You- This was a big lesson for me. I know we have heard this before and probably even seen it posted it on Instagram, but to actually believe it is a different experience. I’m a coaches son so I’m naturally hard on myself. I hate failing and looking foolish. I care to much about my image. Thank the Lord that my leader knew this about me and had grace on me. There were times where I would fail at something again and again while I was recovering, but he never let those failures define who I was. He always encouraged me to try again and depend on the grace of God while doing it. He wouldn’t let me quit. He reminded me my identity was in Christ and His successes and not my own.
8. Eliminate Outside Distractions- Not everyone is going to like you if you are a Christian. Things won’t always go your way…even when you are striving to please God. Trials will come. We will be persecuted. Slander and gossip will cut us like sharpened blade. God’s hand of discipline is inescapable. Therefore, life is difficult due to sin, the world, and the devil. There were many times that outside distractions tested me in my discipleship process. My parents divorced. I lost family members due to the gospel. I was tempted with the instant satisfaction of money and power. I was slandered publicly for things that weren’t true. These things could have broke me, but my Pastor taught me to eliminate those outside distractions by entrusting them to God and staying focused on the bigger picture of His sovereignty. When these things would happen, I simply kept pressing on by staying in the Word and praying. Time worked it all out. Sure, it hurt. I wanted to control things when I was in pain. I wanted to defend myself. I wanted to fight back. Through God’s strength, however, I learned to quietly submit to His will and not fight against it, while staying focused on the task at hand. (Reading, praying, loving and serving those around me.) Eliminate the outside distractions and have faith in God to work it out.
9. Drugs Were Not My Problem- 99 percent of the world believe a drug addict’s problem is rooted in the drugs themselves. I was indoctrinated with this worldview from the time I first entered rehab at fifteen years old. That belief led me into years of suffering and bondage. I believed I was a disease ridden addict who simply couldn’t stop craving drugs and alcohol. After years of attempting to rid myself of this disease through steps and medications, I finally gave up in despair and resigned myself to fatalism. When I stepped into the doors of In Triumph they instantly taught me that all of that was a lie. I didn’t have a special disease and drugs were not my problem. Sin was my problem because it had corrupted my character and twisted my perspective. This meant I was personally responsible, not only for the drugs I consumed, but also for the type of person I had to be in order to get high in the first place. I praise God for this perspective because it led me to repentance for the first time in my life.
10. Christ Is The Answer- This sounds so cliche doesn’t it? I know when I used to read slogans like this it would anger me because it didn’t seem true. People would tell me to trust in Jesus, but that never made any sense to me because they made Him sound like an easy fix. In Triumph, through daily classes in the Word, showed me the true meaning of this “slogan”. Christ was the answer to my addictions and misery. He didn’t come to me in the form of experiences or feelings. He wasn’t an overnight fix. He didn’t rip the sky open and heal me. No, rather He gave me what He promised me He would in His Word: A new heart with new desires and a renewed mind. People from my past life don’t even recognize me anymore or they cannot believe how much I’ve changed. If you met me today you would have no clue what a monster I was before salvation and discipleship either. Praise God in the highest for this transformation. Jesus is the answer and that is the greatest lesson I learned at In Triumph because I believe it with all my heart. His life, death, and resurrection are my anchor. He saved my soul on the cross and He will finish the work He has started inside me. Amen.
If you or your loved one is homeless, aged out of the foster care system, or addicted, please contact In Triumph at (903) 462-0624. For further information about our ministry please visit www.intriumph.org.