The America’s Keswick Colony Grad Reunion is coming again on Mother’s Day weekend, as it does every year. This will be the fourth one in which I will participate, the first one being May 7 – 9, 2010. I had arrived at the Colony of Mercy only 9 days earlier and have several memories of that first weekend. There was a rather energetic speaker named Manny Mill who shared the story of the prodigal son in a way that changed my understanding and interpretation of Luke 15:11-24 forever. I recall many happy and warm embraces shared between people who were genuinely full of joy and gratitude, and I heard stories of how their time in the Colony had saved their marriages, their jobs, their very lives, and their relationship with Jesus.
I witnessed how happy and joyous the staff members of Keswick were to see these men and their families. There was a look of satisfaction and contentment, maybe the same look the man must have had in MT 25:21 when he heard his lord say, “Well done, good and faithful servant…”
There were many other things I remember, but one memory really pierced my heart and gave me a cause to pause. The auditorium had been a beehive of noise and laughter, one conversation being louder than another as people were sharing how great life is when we take ourselves from being the center of our lives and put Jesus there. That one decision gives us life and gives it to us abundantly (John 10:10); when we walk after the Spirit and not after the flesh, we experience life and peace (Romans 8:6). In the loudness of the room, I suddenly noticed heads turning toward the big screen on the stage and all became quiet, the kind of silence that practically screams. As I watched the screen, I realized that there were pictures of graduates who had died that year, some from natural causes but many from a poor decision to remove Jesus from the throne of their lives and replace Him with the idols of drugs and alcohol. Those were the same idols that originally brought them to the Colony of Mercy. I will never forget the sadness I felt despite not knowing any of the men personally whose pictures were shown.
Sad to say, this year there will be pictures of men I not only knew but grew to love, and their deaths hurt my heart, the heart of flesh that God gave me during my time at the Colony, the heart of flesh which continues to beat for Jesus, my Jesus who sits on the throne and is my life. Remember that these men were much more than just photos but were living, breathing hearts of flesh and let us commit to praying for the loved ones they left behind. May the death of our Colony brothers remind us that Jesus is THE bondage breaker and THE only solution to the problem of addiction. May we be the ones who carry this message to the world.
For I will take you from among the nations, gather you out of all countries, and bring you into your own land. Then I will sprinkle clean water on you, and you shall be clean; I will cleanse you from all your filthiness and from all your idols. I will give you a new heart and put a new spirit within you; I will take the heart of stone out of your flesh and give you a heart of flesh. Ezekiel 36: 24-26