Matt Talbot was a Dublin man. He was one of twelve children. He lived with his mother. He was a good man. He was a man of deep faith. Matt became an alcoholic and ended up living on his own. I mention the man, his family and his faith before the fact that he was an alcoholic because often with addiction we name the addiction but we fail to recognise the person who has the addiction. We allow the addiction to define the person. This is simply wrong and it is dangerous. Every person who has an addiction, tonight we think about people who have an addiction to drugs, every person is a beloved child of God. That is our true identity. That is reality. Nothing can change the truth that each one of us is a beloved child of God.
However, ultimately this is exactly what drugs try to do. Drugs, which are very cunningly used by the devil, create uncertainty and even dependence. They make us believe that we need them to be confident – to function – to cope with reality that they don’t allow us to face.
If we think about prescription drugs – they are very good – a gift from God if they are prescribed by a doctor and taken correctly. Used in the right way for some people they are essential for life, however abused, they can lead to dependency and death.
If we think of cannabis and other drugs like it – we can be conned into believing there is no harm in them. They help us to relax. They make us think that we are more intelligent than those who don’t take them. Yet they remove us from reality – the goal of the evil one – and so create nothing but chaos and for some they are a gateway into drugs that only destroy.
What we learn more and more is that the evil of drugs discriminates against nobody – man or woman – boy or girl – rich or poor – Christian or not. The ultimate evil that drugs cause is that they remove us from the truth that we are beloved children of God. Each one of us is made in the image and likeness of God. Far from drugs giving true confidence, they make us doubt and totally disbelieve this truth. The truth is that each one of us has been created by God and God has never ever made a mistake and not only has he created us he has a perfect plan for our lives, a dream for our lives. Drugs stop us dreaming.
Yet God is more powerful than any addiction. Jesus is the light of the world. He tells us this himself in the Gospel this evening. If we follow his light, we will never walk in darkness. The light of Jesus shines always even when we are in the depths of despair, dependency and addiction. Jesus never gives up on us. Addiction can lead us to Jesus. It leads us to Jesus because it is impossible to beat addiction on our own. Jesus is the only healer there is and he wants desperately to heal every single one of us. He wants us to dream again the dream that God has for us.
We need to come to Jesus. We need to sit in his presence and ask for healing. We need to spend time with Jesus. I know a person who suffered from an addiction; this person found a path to freedom, to discovering the unfolding perfect plan that God has for them by sitting in front of an icon of Jesus every day. This person just looked at the face of Jesus. Jesus filled their life in such a way that the person would say there was no room for their addiction.
It may sound impossible but with Jesus everything is possible. What it requires is that we just take the first step confident that Jesus is waiting. It is like stepping out of the boat to walk on the water. It is terrifying but as soon as you feel you are going down Jesus is there with his hand out to hold you. Jesus is waiting for each one of us to discover again that we are a beloved child of God. Jesus is waiting to bring us into reality and we never should be afraid of reality because it is only there that we meet Jesus. Drugs remove people from reality into a fantasy. Jesus reveals reality in all its God given beauty.
Matt Talbot went to Jesus with his addiction and he found freedom. He lived for forty years without alcohol. We ask him to intercede for us this evening that we will always believe that the power of God is the greatest power in the world and it can overcome everything.