To be honest, I’m amazed that God is a God of second chances. When he created everything and decided how it would all work, it truly amazes me that he made room for mercy. Any master craftsmen would most likely discard any material he works with that is marred and ugly. But not God, he continues to put love and mercy on display. This amazes me! It would be easy to say, “well, when God created humans he already knew the future so he knew we would need forgiveness”, but I’d say, “because he already knew the future before creating us failing humans, he could have scrapped the idea of us all together, but he didn’t, he went with us + mercy instead.” Again, amazing! He could have avoided so much pain by not creating us, but then he wouldn’t have gotten what he wanted most, and that is free will love. He longs for it! So much so that he created mercy so he could have it from us. For the third time I say, amazing! The creator God of the universe decided to die for his failing creation so he could share his love with us. Wow, now that is an amazing Easter story!
I too have dealt with the power of addictions, and like you, have found that there is no easy way out. If there were, we wouldn’t have so many facilities to go to, or programs to try. This shouldn’t discourage us though, because with God all things are possible. I want to share my experience of how I overcame the addictions in my life, and how you can too. The process is easy to understand but will be difficult to apply if you choose to make it so. Some well intentioned people will tell you that recovery is going to be a long dark path, and that it may take years to overcome. They also my say things like, “once an addict always an addict”. But this just isn’t true. The Bible assures us in 2 Corinthians 5:17, “Therefore, if anyone is in Christ, he is a new creation; old things have passed away; behold, all things have become new.” You can be made new, but the choice is up to you.
Here’s how I overcame addictions.
The first step I had to take was the one of honesty. I had to be willing to admit that I was selfish and that I needed help to stop hurting both myself and those around me with my selfishness. This is called repentance. Repentance isn’t about paying for your sins, or begging God to give you a second chance. It’s about recognizing that you can’t do it on your own, and that you need God’s help to save you from your selfish ways. I went to God and said, “Lord, I’m so sorry I’ve let my life become such a mess, but I can’t fix this on my own, so whatever you have to do to free me from these additions, please do it.” And the process began! It was less than 3 months and I was free.
What It Takes To Walk in Freedom
It took me coming to a point where I was willing to vow that these things would never have a place in my life again. But first, it took a step of courage and faith that my week and selfish flesh didn’t want to take. It took a willingness to overcome the fear of who I would be without the addictions. I took the leap, made the vows, and have never looked back. Remember, it didn’t start with the vows, it started with the prayer. After that it became about the willingness on my part to change, and then God brought me to the place of the vows. He can and will do the same for you if you’re willing to ask, and then be willing to change.
The changes begin when we admit, ask for help, and than be willing to do what we are shown. Many addicts remain addicts because when the answer of chance is revealed to them they say no. They try and convince themselves that the change isn’t necessary for their freedom. They try and convince themselves that the two are unrelated. Let’s just call this what it is, laziness. But remember, laziness is just another form of selfishness, and if you are unwilling to let go of selfishness then you will never be set free. God will start with bite size choices that you can make, but still have to be willing to. Making good choices will start the process of proving to yourself that you can get personal victories in your life, and once you get the taste of victory, you’ll want more. I promise!!
Will You Relapse?
Only if your vows didn’t mean that much to you when you made them. Ecclesiastes 5:4-5 is very clear on how God feels about your vows, “When you make a vow to God, do not delay in fulfilling it. He has no pleasure in fools; fulfill your vow. It is better not to vow than to make a vow and not fulfill it.” Remember, selfishness is what you have been giving into this whole time, not the actual addictions themselves. So the real question you need to ask yourself is, “am I allowed to be selfish again?” The answer is “No!” If you love yourself and the people you have been hurting, NO, you don’t get to relapse! This is why it’s so important that you realize you are a new person, the old one is now dead. If it’s dead than you’ll have to go back to the graveyard with a shovel and dig that nasty thing back up again. The Bible teaches that it’s “as a dog returns to its vomit.” Seriously, I can not understand the reason people would teach that you may relapse from time to time. So it’s ok to put love on hold then? To go back to your vomit, and lick it back up again? Your loved ones are supposed to be understanding of this when it happens from time to time? You’re ok with this being “part of the process”? Read carefully the words of Jesus “Therefore if the Son makes you free, you shall be free indeed.” John 8:36. The answer is easy, admit you need help, ask God for it, and then when he shows you the path, get on it, tough choices and all. Then, make your vows and NEVER look back! “But what if I relapse, is there no hope then?” Of course there’s still hope, there always is. But don’t expect your loved ones to stick around and keep forgiving you for licking your vomit back up and coming home smelling like the dead body you dug back up. Selfishness ALWAYS has a price tag, you already know that. So don’t make an excuse to go back to it.
I’m going to pray for you right now so that you too can find the strength to pray your own prayer.
“Jesus, you see the soul who is reading this right now. You see the pain, the shame, and the guilt that they live with everyday. You have heard all the prayers that they have already prayed, and it’s because of these prayers that they are stilling here right now reading this. You are here in this moment with us, reminding us that the promise of freedom is for all, not just for some. In your amazing plan for freedom you will not only help us to become free from addictions, but you will also give us the strength to confront the people we have hurt with our addictions. Help us not to forget that you are here now, and you will continue to be here as freedom from addictions begins. You Lord, will never leave us or forsake us, no not to the ends of the earth. David said, “if I make my bed in hell you are there” and this is where you find me right here and now. Thank you for the help you have already given me and for the help are willing to give as I go forward. I know the path to freedom is only one step away. Lord, Psalms 65:3 promises, “Though we are overwhelmed by our sins, you forgive them all.” It’s this promise we claim, and it’s in your name Jesus that we put these addictions in your hands. Amen.”
Getting caught up in desiring to be righteous can be a very tricky thing. What I mean is, wanting to do what is right simply because it’s righteous isn’t going to get us very far. Believe it or not that’s exactly what the religious leaders of Jesus’s day were doing. If we are going to have genuine and pure righteousness we must first understand what Godly love is, and once we learn to apply this love, then righteousness will flow freely from us.
As crazy as this may sound, many people try to belittle themselves into being righteous, but obtaining righteousness this way will be short lived and never enjoyed. Negative never produces positive. First, you must KNOW that God loves you both deeply, and immeasurably. Then, learn to let that love flow from you to others. Once we can make these two steps a part of our daily routine, we no longer beg God to make us righteous because it will be an automatic byproduct of our peace, and not something we are trying to beat ourselves into.