Addiction can cut a wide path of destruction….career, reputation, relationships. The news story about Randy Travis this week reminded me just how wide that path can be.
Travis has sold more than 20 million records during his country music career. According to his official website, he has seven Grammy Awards, 10 Academy of Country Music Association statuettes, 10 American Music Awards, seven Music City News Awards, five Country Music Association honors and eight Dove Awards from the Gospel Music Association to his credit.
Yes, gospel as in the “good news” of John 3:16: that God so loved the world that he gave his only begotten son, Jesus Christ.
Travis has also acted in Hallmark Channel movies and Christmas specials. In short, he seemed to “have it all”. But where addiction is concerned, having a lot means having a lot to lose.
Earlier this weekend, an incident in which Travis was charged with driving while intoxicated made national headlines. He had crashed his car and was allegedly yelling threats at police – naked – when they arrived at the scene. In his mug shot, he appears beaten, looking at the camera with a menacing glower – not at all the shy, lanky superstar represented by his public image.
Addiction has a way of doing that, too: bringing the darkest aspects of a person into the public eye. If Travis suffers from addiction to alcohol, he will continue to deteriorate until he commits to sobriety. Hopefully that will happen before he harms himself further—before he harms somebody else.
According to the CNN story that ran on Aug. 8, he was also arrested for a similar offense back in February of this year. His response to that DUI charge was as follows: "I apologize for what resulted following an evening of celebrating the Super Bowl. I'm committed to being responsible and accountable and apologize for my actions."
In the past couple of years, Travis is also reported to have been involved in messy court proceedings with his ex-wife of 19 years, Elizabeth (who also acted as his manager for more than three decades) until as she put it: Travis made it impossible to do her job. Though we do not know for certain if he is addicted to alcohol, Travis' behavior during this recent arrest suggests that he is not in control of his drinking. Career, reputation, relationships – all take a hit as addictions spiral.
The mess he is going through now seems impossible to overcome…except that all things are possible through Jesus Christ. I cannot pretend to know the heart of Travis, but if he is a Christian (as his Gospel music might indicate) he already has what it takes to walk in recovery. He has already accepted that he is not his own higher power. He is the perfect candidate for recovery.
There is a special shame in being a Christian and being an addict – and yes, it is possible to be both. It may be true that Christians shouldn’t battle addictions, that they are free through grace to live a life of sobriety. It is also true that people who truly love the Lord walk around in human flesh. They have struggles and make mistakes, and are not immune to consequences. They are – like others – their own worst enemies at times, powerless against sin, yet stunned when faced with the wide path of destruction it leaves.
Being free to walk into grace requires that one step into surrender. Salvation grace is applicable to recovery from addiction. It is allowing God into our darkest places and accepting that he so loved us that he sent his only son to die for us.
Jesus in his earthly life had everything to lose, and gave it up so that this alcoholic can live free to tell others that they can, too.
Travis has lost a lot, but he still has God. God, who loves him so.