As part of Celebrate Recovery’s 15th Anniversary Celebration in May, Brad and Renee Rutledge, former national leaders who are currently directing a local CR in Georgia, shared their story.
Brad and Renee married 30 years ago carrying the weight of addiction, sexual abuse and deep hurts. In fact, they met when Renee was two months pregnant.
For both, their hurts went back into their childhood and teenage years. Renee was 8 years old when she saw her brother get hit and killed by a car. Brad was 14 when his father died.
In the early years of their marriage, Brad spent all of their money on parties and drugs. He eventually introduced Renee to drugs, too.
After five years and on the verge of financial ruin and collapse, they separated and were headed to divorce. That’s when Brad began attending Alcoholics Anonymous.
“I started to see a light, a peace, a joy in him,” said Renee.
They began going to church and then serving. Things seemed to go well for about eight years, but then Renee relapsed and began secretly drinking. She was a youth director in their church, but also an alcoholic.
“There are people who sit in our churches every week, and they are tormented by their strongholds,” she said. “But God met me right where I was.”
James 4:7-10 became a life verse for Renee, who took her last drink in January 2000. “Submit yourselves, then, to God. Resist the devil, and he will flee from you. Come near to God and he will come near to you. Wash your hands, you sinners, and purify your hearts, you double-minded. Grieve, mourn and wail. Change your laughter to mourning and your joy to gloom. Humble yourselves before the Lord, and he will lift you up.”
Through Renee’s recovery, “God was preparing us for something big,” Brad said.
Their pastor suggested Brad and Renee start a Celebrate Recovery group.
“As I started to study the materials, a light came on,” Brad said. “We found our purpose … God never wastes a hurt.”
That was 16 years ago. They said that through CR they see that “God is still in the miracle-making business.”
“CR is the greatest example of Christianity making a difference in the world,” Brad said.
Learn more about Celebrate Recovery and visit next Sunday.