George and Diane DeDual lead Celebrate Recovery at Church at Red River.
Walking through life with a backpack on one's back seems like an easy task. Many of us have toted backpacks since grade school often with books, loose leaf binders or our lunches. But, some of us never seem to shed our packs as we get older. As a matter of fact, our packs have a tendency to get heavier and heavier. How does that happen when our intent is to move through life carefree but, instead, we gather more and more baggage.
Life's baggage is accumulated when we take on more responsibilities, when we get married, when we have children, when we purchase a home, when we take on stressful jobs, when we spend more than we make, when we are upside down in our relationships and in a variety of other situations our load increases. Often we load our backpacks with unsavory items such as lying, cheating, stealing, illicit relationships, pornography, co-dependency, anger, gluttony, divorce or other vices that tend to complicate our lives beyond reason.
I had personally carried a backpack full of life's garbage for many years. Somewhere along life's path I came to realize that my life was out of control and my backpack needed to be emptied. In 1995 I heard about the aspect of accountability partners, but, really, I wanted to do life on my own without anyone else's help. In 2002 my sack got so laden down with problems and sins I finally had to cry out for help. God answered my cry and brought me my first accountability partner. As time passed, I realized that my pack was getting a little lighter as I added additional accountability partners. These men were sent to me by God.
We all know that God works in mysterious ways and in my life that is what he did. I was enjoying some recovery but I still had a lot of unforgiveness, anger, lust and deceit in my pack. Our pastor Troy Parker at Church at Red River introduced Celebrate Recovery to the congregation. My wife and I felt that we could "help" others with this type of program, so we joined. Little did we know that the neediest people attending the training were us.
In Celebrate Recovery, or CR as we know it, I began unloading my backpack. There were other men and women who were bold enough to step up and say that their life was unmanageable and that they needed help. We applied the principles of the program that was originally laid out by Rick Warren, Pastor of Saddleback Church and author of Purpose Driven Life, and the healing began. What a relief to lighten my load finally, after more than 60 years of hurts, habits and hang ups burdening my relationships.
It will soon be nine years since I began my journey and God in His faithfulness has never turned His back on me. I now enjoy my freedom with others and leading the healing ministry of Celebrate Recovery at Church at Red River. We have seen marriages saved, bondages broken, relationships restored, lives changed and hundreds of other believers enjoying the freedom that can only come through the power of the cross.
There are hundreds of meaningful scriptures that have ministered to me in my own recovery, but Psalms 107: 13-14 speaks volumes in recovery for those who have heavy laden backpacks: “Then they cried to the Lord in their trouble, and he saved them from their distress. He brought them out of darkness, the utter darkness, and broke away their chains.” The beautiful thing about the path we have taken is that we have had help, and we have helped others in their brokenness. There is an old Christian song that rings so true in life. The song “Victory is Mine” has been around a long time and became so true in my life when I quit doing life on my own and allowed Jesus to unload my backpack.
George DeDual and his wife, Diane, lead Celebrate Recovery at Church at Red River.