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FIRST-PERSON: Divine dependence

EDITORS’ NOTE: This is the third in a series of three articles dealing with drug abuse prevention. In July, the first two key ingredients of a successful prevention strategy were discussed: realistic education about drug-abuse and its consequences and a good appreciation for self. The August article dealt with positive peer-pressure and involvement in worthwhile activities.

DURHAM, N.C. (BP)–A sincere trust in God for inspiration and direction is foundational to a successful prevention strategy. Without God and his direction, we are like ships without rudders. For individuals to successfully tackle the important issues of life, there should be total dependence on the Heavenly Father for leadership. This true dependence on the God of the universe will inspire and enable the individual to avoid any substance that will have a negative impact on his behavior. Concentration on God’s will for our lives will keep us in his way.

To some, this may sound very nebulous. However, there are some very practical ways we can seek God’s tangible influence in our lives. Scripture sets forth guidelines that, if followed, are adequate protection from the pitfalls that lie in our paths. Another source of heavenly direction can be found in fellowship with other believers.

Involvement in a local church can be a useful pivot from which to purge weakness and nurture strength in the lives of young people. In most cases, the church offers events on weekdays as well as weekends that provide ample opportunities for our young people to become involved in worthwhile activities. Involvement at a local church also provides direction and counsel from pastoral and lay leaders. Positive peer influence is another blessing offered by the church.

As beneficial as this sounds for our children, we must remember that Bible study, church attendance and an active prayer life must be modeled at home in order for our young people to undertake these activities and view them with a sense of importance.

Fear of the consequences for breaking laws or rules also can strongly influence our young people’s perception of drug use. Those who espouse the legalization of illegal substances fail to realize that the relaxation of such laws would greatly increase the number of those using these dangerous drugs, and thus increase the number of destroyed lives. The removal of such barriers would carry with it the public stamp of approval, the drugs would become much cheaper, and these vehicles of destruction would be easier to obtain. The drug problem would increase dramatically.

This is a society of laws, and the public has developed a respect for the need for these rules. We believe that the potential legal ramifications of drug abuse are vital to prevention. Not everyone will be dissuaded by the legal implications, but many will. One tool of prevention may work best in one person’s life, while another may prove more effective in the life of another young person. Therefore, we must use every method at our disposal in order to best protect our children from the venomous temptress that lies in wait just around the corner.

The rules in effect in both home and school environments should be clearly explained and consistently enforced. Don’t assume that the forbidding of drugs and their use is simply an “unspoken rule.” Young people need and deserve to have clearly established parameters.

We must also be careful to never underestimate the power of a positive example to influence the lives of those around us. Somebody, somewhere, trusts in each of us. It may be a family member, a close friend, a coworker or neighbor. Our examples most definitely affect the lives of those with whom we associate on a regular basis. We must walk the walk as well as talk the talk. How could we ever possibly influence others to live more wholesome lives than we ourselves are willing to? And why would we want to?

The parent who relaxes in front of the television set watching the ball game with a six-pack of beer in his lap will find himself on extremely thin ice when attempting to reason with his child about the dangers of drug abuse. The parent who consumes prescribed tranquilizers like they’re candy will have equal difficulty in explaining the benefits of a sober lifestyle.

We could sound the alarm so loudly that everyone could hear it, we could use all of the right words and present the most compelling arguments. We could even lead others to find better lives for themselves through our speeches and active involvement. But, if we fail to follow our own convictions, then we are nothing more than clouds without rain.

Prevention of drug abuse is a truly worthy goal, and its achievement will not come without extreme effort. There is no snake oil that will inoculate our young people against this virulent plague, and there is no way to ever fully quantify the effectiveness of our efforts to assuage its reach into their lives. But, every person who avoids this self-destructive journey will be one saved from sure misery and possible destruction. This sober individual will bless society, and God will be well pleased that another will be better prepared to honor his name.
Stone and Barber, of Durham, N.C., are coauthors of two books on alcohol and drug abuse, “The Drug Tragedy — Hope for the One Who Hurts” and “The Drug Tragedy — Hope for the One Who Cares,” both available from LifeWay Christian Stores.

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  • Ted Stone & Philip Barber