Are you Powered up or Powerless?

One morning, I walked into the kitchen to find my 13-year-old daughter staring into an unplugged and empty toaster.

“What are you doing?” I demanded. “It’s not plugged in. Plus, there’s no bread in it!”

Very seriously she responded, “I was waiting for it to heat up.”

Perhaps she was still half asleep, like many Christians are.

Too many of us are lukewarm believers whose toasters are not only void of substance – but also unplugged from the Holy Spirit – our true power source.

God wasn’t all that relevant to me as I grew. He was basically a guy in a dusty old book I was “pretty sure” had walked the earth at some point. My mind’s eye portrayed him as a wizard-like being up in the sky, a magic genie I’d beg for things I coveted.

I have fond memories of belonging to a small Presbyterian church in the woods of northern Minnesota. My parents saw to it that I completed the rituals of a dutiful daughter. We had all the right milestones dialed in, though my church didn’t place much emphasis on the Holy Spirit or the need to publicly accept Jesus as Savior. 

I’d never heard of an altar call. But when I was nine and visiting my neighbor’s church, the youth leaders invited me to kneel down and accept Jesus. Though I was hesitant, I bowed and recited the prayer. This public declaration of faith was an important step in my walk with the Lord.

My years of church exposure culminated in an empty certificate that reflected no real relationship with the living God. Once the confirmation ceremony ended, I was no longer “required” to attend church. “Woo-hoo, I’m FREE!” I inwardly gloated

I didn’t know I was in chains! The night of my final class, I memorized the Apostle’s Creed, then took off with an older boy – bound for a gravel pit keg party in the woods. I told myself I was never going back to boring, old church.

What was the point? I’d completed all the required “stuff, and was pretty sure I was heaven-bound when I died. Though I was “saved by the skin of my teeth, I wouldn’t submit to Jesus’ Lordship for many years.  

My teen years were marked with rebellion, insecurity, and binge drinking because my drive to fit in overrode my desire to pursue Christ. Getting drunk allowed denial of my true identity but caused inner turmoil and despair. Throughout high school and into college, I masked God’s voice with more alcohol, loud parties, and vain attempts for recognition.

My lowest point was in late summer of 2003, when I came out of a blackout to find myself in a cheap motel room. My memory was blank, and I ached to piece the lost night together. That morning I realized that if I continued my current trajectory, I would die of an alcohol overdose or car accident. I fully comprehended the gravity of how Jesus had saved me from certain death on numerous occasions.

On August 22, 2003, I surrendered to God. I’d spent years slapping worthless bandaids on my problem. Always seeking the hottest thing to fix myself: self-help books, therapy methods, novel recovery groups, controlled drinking techniques didn’t offer lasting change. Nothing worked until Lord Jesus met me in my desperation and my surrender.

The mission of my life for the past eighteen years has been to help others out of the prison of addiction. I remarried in 2004, and for many years worked in treatment facilities. Things were great in sobriety. My husband and I added two beautiful daughters to our family and enjoyed an amazing white picket fence kind of life.

It seemed everything I had acquired was a rich blessing birthed from my pledge to never drink again. I was taking credit for most of it, with God just along for the ride. I had packaged my addicted life up in a box and shoved it way back onto a shelf in the attic of my heart. I wouldn’t be accessing that crate of pain again. My life coasted along on autopilot.

Around 2010, my perfect existence began to unravel. Life was stressful and busy; work and family life became increasingly demanding and I found myself depressed and overwhelmed. Soon it was too much work to make it to the church we’d once loved. We withdrew from the congregation, and I put God on the shelf next to the addiction box. He became another ornament socked away, something I figured I didn’t need on a daily basis.

My fatherinlaw passed away in late 2010 and his death took a devastating toll on my husband. A long, dark period followed. Some days I’d huddle in bed and cry, whispering, “Jesus.” Many workdays I’d make it through only by closing my office door so no one could hear my weeping.

Surrender and desperation came – just like they had the morning I was delivered of my addiction. There was nothing I could do in my own power to shift, influence, or change the trajectory of my marriage. Someone at work who didn’t know of my personal issues suggested I read the book of Job. It was depressing, but oddly comforting just the same. For almost a year, I was suspended in a holding pattern.

Something profound happened when I laid everything down at the feet of Jesus. The load was lightened. Suddenly I was “okay.” Not great, not joyful – but at peace. Trusting God. On Easter Sunday 2013, my husband asked out of nowhere if we could attend church together as a family, and from that day forward everything was different. We saw each other with fresh eyes, and all was forgiven. God brought the turnaround when we least expected it.

My husband and I re-engaged in church and put Jesus back at the center of our marriage. We also started attending an intercessory prayer ministry with a team of very gifted people who helped us work through many issues.

In June of 2013, the prayer team offered to pray over me to receive the gifts of the Holy Spirit. They advised me to invite the Spirit to come in my private prayer time.

I forgot about everything for about a week, and then one night after work I was praying in my office. I started to hum lightly under my breath and began to utter different words and syllables, and simultaneously felt a warm, tingling feeling running down my body. Looking back eight years, I see this day as a beautiful gift presented by the Lord at the end of the long trial I had endured as I fought and stood firm for my marriage. The Lord impressed upon my Spirit, “It is finished,” and has continued to reiterate that when the enemy tries to instill fear of future events.

For the past eight years, I have prayed in the Spirit almost daily and it has transformed my life. I would be lost without His presence. I think back to my childhood church experience, and although I am grateful for the seeds that were planted, I realize now how much I was missing from my Christian walk because I had not encountered Him.

Without the Holy Spirit, we are like an unplugged toaster void of bread, reciting rote prayers and glancing at our watches wondering when the sermon will be over. It doesn’t have to be this way. Life in the Spirit is exciting, dynamic, and filled with adventure.

We believe the Holy Spirit is very present and working through the video content of the Lindell Recovery Network, as well as the Operation Restored Warrior course which you will find on the website. Please visit www.lindellrecoverynetwork.org to watch life changing and spirit-filled testimonials and refer anyone you know who struggles with addiction to do the same.

“But you will receive power when the Holy Spirit comes upon you. And you will be my witnesses, telling people about me everywhere – in Jerusalem, throughout Judea, in Samaria, and to the ends of the earth.” Acts 1:8

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Melissa Huray

Melissa Huray is the Executive Director of the Lindell Recovery Network and was radically freed from her addiction in 2003.