Helping Others Find the Most Excellent Way
Last week, we learned about Stacey Paden and how going to a Most Excellent Way addiction support meeting at Olive Baptist Church one night in 1998 began a change that has lasted decades. This week, we’ll learn how Stacey continues to walk the path she learned through the Most Excellent Way.
After attending MEW meetings regularly for months, Stacey found herself wanting to learn more and more about God and how He could help her make sense of the life she had been living. She was learning about God’s love for her by reading through Scripture, but she wasn’t ready to fully surrender. One night in October 1998, she felt the overwhelming sense of God pursuing her heart. She sat down and began to read a piece of paper given to her by a coworker – someone who had gained sobriety and was helping Stacey to see the promises God offered people just like her.
“My conversation with God went sort of like this,” Stacey remembers. “‘I’m just going to read this. It doesn’t mean I’m giving You my life. I just want to know what’s expected of me. I just need to understand before I can do anything.’ I tried to put stipulations on it, because I didn’t want to be fake. I want to be real. I want to be transparent. I didn’t want to be a hypocrite, because I was taught that people in church were hypocrites, and I didn’t want to be that way. I knew that my family would think that I had lost my mind – because I was constantly in the bars. I was drinking – I had drank myself into not having a place to live! I was a single mom, and I wasn’t taking care of my daughter like I was suppose to be. I had burned every bridge I had – manipulation is the game when you have an alcohol or drug problem. So I really knew my family was going to think I had lost my mind. And I thought I HAD lost my mind! But I knew – I KNEW that God was calling me. I read, ‘God, I’m a sinner, and I need You to save me. And I come to you with all my imperfections.’ I read that a total of 3 times. And after the 3rd time, when I asked Him to forgive me of my sins and I finished that prayer, I knew that I was a different person.”
“2 Corinthians 5:17 became a physical, visual, transformation for me – that the old is gone and the new has come. I knew that I was a new person. As I stood to get out of that chair, my knees hit the ground, and my first memory was being back in that bar saying, ‘I will never bow to God.’ And now there I was, bowing before God. And the grace that He has shown me, and the forgiveness that He has shown me, has been indescribable.”
Most Excellent Way played a pivotal role in Stacey’s salvation story. Going to MEW meetings taught her coping skills for staying out of the bars where she previously spent so much time. MEW meetings gave her connections to supportive leaders who had walked similar paths, fought similar struggles, and could help her steer away from the traps and lies that her old life was feeding her. MEW connected her to God’s Word, and His teachings – truths that could give her the answers she had been searching for, when a life of alcohol and abuse didn’t provide answers or satisfy her needs.
“In the first 2 years of my sobriety, the Most Excellent Way was pivotal in pouring life into me. I remember specifically being in one meeting – I remember where I was sitting in the room – I remember the chair – I remember everything about the room. The leader read a Scripture verse, and I said, ‘Whoa – can you read that again please.’ And when she read it a second time, I looked it up in my Bible and instantly, I said, ‘Lord, You’re going to heal my hurts??? You’re going to use my story?’ And He said, ‘Yes, I am.’ Genesis 50:20 is that verse. Joseph is speaking to his brothers that sold him into slavery. Joseph lived a hard life, and not once in Scripture does he say, ‘God, what about me?’ Joseph persisted. Genesis 50:20 reads, ‘You intended to harm me, but God intended it for good to accomplish what is now being done – the saving of many lives.’”
“I think of my wounds and my heart like an onion – it’s one of the descriptions that someone taught us in the Most Excellent Way. The teacher one night took an onion and started peeling it a layer at a time. With each layer that was taken off, tears ran down his face. Healing is hard and it causes tears and it causes heartache. But God has been able to unravel that onion one layer at a time. Piece by piece. I’m so thankful that we have a God that is gentle and gracious. He doesn’t just rip it wide open. He takes a piece and says let’s just deal with this right here. Then we take another step forward and He says let’s just camp out here for a little bit and take care of this. And then He moves us forward a little bit more. And sometimes it seems like we’re just standing here not making any progress at all, and then all of the sudden, we look around and realize we don’t hurt anymore.”
“God can use your story. Don’t waste your hurt. Let God use it. One of the things I’ve learned the most in my faith walk is learning to become vulnerable. The more vulnerable I’ve become, the more courage it takes. It takes courage to expose your heart. It takes courage to be real. It takes vulnerability for God to mold and make you who He intended you to be. When I think about my past, I think ‘God, how could You use me?’ He says, ‘My plan for you was long before you were ever born. I’m just bringing it into fruition now.’ So my hope is that whatever my story is, whatever He continues to make it, that it’s going to be good. That someone is going to hear it and say, ‘I want what she has. I’m ready to surrender my life. If God can save her – a drunk, a liar, and a thief – then He can save me.’”
💙The Most Excellent Way is our faith-based support group for addiction recovery, providing support to those struggling with addiction as well as their families. Groups meet weekly at OBC main campus and at our Warrington campus, and find hope by grounding themselves in Biblical principles alongside leaders who are trained in supporting others.
💙 MEW meets at Olive’s main campus on Tuesdays and Fridays from 7 to 8:30PM, and on the Warrington Campus on Wednesdays from 6:30PM to 8PM. (Due to COVID-19 meeting restrictions, Warrington Campus meetings have been temporarily suspended. Please call Scott or check our Ministry Village Facebook page for information on when meetings will resume.)
💙Contact Scott Heald (SHeald@MinistryVillage.org or 850 475-1112) for more information.