Hitting Rock Bottom
He was longing to be fed with the pods that the pigs ate, and no one gave him anything. Luke 15:16
In the disaster of my drug addiction, I found myself in an inner-city drug treatment program. On day one, I felt very much out of my element. Just a few days before, I’d been a respectable emergency room physician. In treatment however, I was surrounded by drug dealers, IV drug users, and criminals who were only there to avoid more prison time. There’s been a mistake. I don’t belong here. I’m not like these people.
By day two, I had to humbly admit my condition as an awful realization dawned on me. I am in the right place. I do belong here. This is what I’ve become. Accepting the reality of my failures, I was unable to maintain any facade of being better than anyone. I was an addict. I’d lied, cheated, and stolen to get my drug. I’d lost my job, my family, and turned from God. I was ashamed and I hated who I’d become. If there was a hellish rock bottom, that was it.
Today’s passage tells a similar situation in the parable of the prodigal son. In the story, Jesus told of this young man who demanded his inheritance early, only to run off to the city to spend it recklessly. In pursuit of the high life, he lived only for the immediate pleasures of today. Eventually, tomorrow came though, as his money – and the good times – ran out.
He didn’t plan to find rock bottom. No one ever does. Like me though, he wasted everything he had in pursuit of his self-destructive appetite, failing to count the cost or consider the consequences. Destitute, he hired himself out to feed pigs. Starving, he realized even those pigs were eating better than him.
I can imagine his thoughts because I’ve been there. How did it come to this? I don’t belong here. The harsh reality I had to admit though, is that I had no one to blame but myself. I was the problem, and as much as I hated it, I belonged exactly where I was.
Unfortunately, we often need rock bottom. We often need pain to find transformation. If we never feel discomfort, we’re unlikely to change. God often allows us the miserable consequences of our way to convince us that we must abandon it to follow his.