How could there be any blessing in having an addictive past? Wrecked relationships, court costs, shame—hmmm, not seeing blessings there. Surely, the fact alone that we are now free gives us much to be thankful for, which is a blessing. But, there’s a distinct benefit former addicts have that helps them develop a healthy relationship with God.
In addiction, we had something outside of our selves to “help” us carry on in life—our ______ (fill in your addiction). Doesn’t matter what that something else was. We needed it, felt we had to have it, and went to great lengths to make sure we didn’t go without it. We were addicted to it. The blessing of our past addiction is the unique ability to be totally sold out to something else. When it was our drug of choice, being dependent was a huge negative in our lives. However, when we are able to give ourselves over entirely to Jesus Christ, it’s an exponentially positive thing – a tremendous blessing.
The challenge is in harnessing that dependence our addiction demanded of us and placing it on our Savior. A huge difference in the two is the nature of our God. He will not hold us captive like our addiction did. He gives us free will. It’s one of his specialties.
When we started out doing __________ (fill in your addiction), we liked the feeling we got from it. Liked it so much, we did it enough to give it a bit of power over us. Even when we knew it was risky to pursue it, we liked it enough to take the risk. At some point, our body and/or mind demanded we put it as a top priority. And when we rebelled against it to take our power back and deny ourselves of ________ (fill in your addiction), it put the hammer down and took us down paths we didn’t want to go. Its desire was to destroy us, and if we hadn’t gotten free, we might be destroyed today.
Our relationship with Jesus shares some similarities. When we first felt the love and acceptance of God, we liked the feeling. Liked it so much, we did some Christian-like things—like going to church, praying, studying the Bible—and began to feel the power of God in our lives. Even when we knew it was out of character to pursue Jesus, we were intrigued enough to do it. At some point, we went so deep into it that we confessed to God we were sinners and asked Him to come into our lives and be Lord of our lives. And when the newness wore off and we rebelled to have more of life our way and deny ourselves of Jesus’ Lordship, Jesus did not put the hammer down and take us down paths we didn’t want to go. His desire is to lead us, not force us; to grow us, not crush us.
His desire is for our hearts to WANT to go down his path. This is where the similarities with addiction end.
Addiction demands to be our master. Jesus offers to be our master. One takes, the other gives. In it’s most basic truth, “God so loved the world, that he GAVE…” (John 3:16) It is up to us to seek God to receive his direction and Lordship in our lives.
I can still remember a turning point in my recovery when things came to a head. I can’t recall the exact details, but I know I was enduring the everyday struggles of financial woes, a second marriage with a blended stepfamily, and raising four teenagers. Something had gone terribly wrong and the pressure was on. I was young in my rededicated relationship with our Lord Jesus and he had helped free me of 25+ years of alcohol, cigarettes, and pot over a series of a few years. Now, I only had Jesus, none of my previous comforters.
I stood sobbing in my shower over the circumstances of the moment, not knowing WHAT TO DO with my extreme emotions and anxiety. And I cried out to Jesus, “You’re all I’ve got! I don’t know what to do!” And it was like a small voice whispering through the deluge of tears and rainwater said, “Finally!”
My "shower moment" was life-changing. It began my quest to learn how to crave Jesus with the same zeal I craved my former gods. And this is what I found.
JESUS is powerful! Just speaking "Jesus" out loud is enough to pierce dark thinking and anxiety. His love for us and his power over the darkness that once held us in bondage is great. He will not force it on us, but once we ask for it and believe in our hearts he's going to give it to us, he conquers our enemies. When we pursue him, we find supernatural power to overcome obstacles.
The Bible says to seek the kingdom of God first and with all our hearts, minds, and souls. Then it says that all that we need will be provided for us if we do that. We used to seek our drug of choice with all our being, so we know the pattern—needed it, felt we had to have it, and went to great lengths to make sure we didn’t go without it. Let's use that hidden blessing of dependence on another to fully depend on our Lord and Savior, Jesus Christ. The peace, wholeness, and abundant life he offers us provides all we need to carry on in life.
I will teach you wisdom's ways and lead you in straight paths. When you walk, you won't be held back; when you run, you won't stumble. Take hold of my instructions; don't let them go. Guard them, for they are the key to life. Proverbs 4:11-13 NLT
Copyright © 2017 Beth Livingston. Used by permission.