Addicted

Written Nov 2014: I used to drink…. a lot. I stopped drinking (alcohol) sixteen years ago. But there are times when I can still taste it. I have come to recognize that it is times when I am under the most stress. I was talking with another nurse at work the other night. We are under some persecution at work. And I mentioned alcohol. I talked about how after all this time I can still taste it as if I had it in my hand. And the desire to have one increases proportionally with my stress level.
I realized as we were talking that it was not alcohol that I actually wanted. It was an escape. I haven’t had alcohol in 16 years, but I have had non-alcoholic wine. And I found that even with it, depending on my stress level and context, I could find myself pouring a glass of “wine”, sitting alone in the living room and sinking into the escape it provided. For a few moments it was alcohol and I was drunk. It got to the point that I was scaring myself. I realized how very easily I could go back to drinking. I stopped buying the “wine” for a while and I don’t drink it alone.
This week God revealed what alcohol was to me. I use alcohol, or even imagined alcohol, as a way to escape the stress that I am under. For a few moments, while I hold the glass and sip at its contents, I forget about my problems. They all fade away. The weight of my burden is lifted. I feel “drunk” not because I am, but for a few moments, I am lighter, carefree. I can pretend that all my troubles are gone and I can relax. The problem is that in order for alcohol to accomplish this I have to shut down part of my brain and be numb to reality. And once the “buzz” is over, my problems are still there. And usually I can add to them whatever burdens were added as a result of drinking. I didn’t really escape. Only shut down.
Then God spoke to me. When I could taste the rum, He said, “taste and see that the Lord is good.” (Psalm 34:8a) He reminded me of Phil 4:6-7, “Do not be anxious about anything, but in every situation, by prayer and petition, with thanksgiving, present your requests to God. And the peace of God, which transcends all understanding, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus.” I need God’s peace. I need my heart and mind guarded – not numbed. Psalm 55:22a tells me, “cast your cares on the Lord and he will sustain you.” He tells me in Matt 11:28-30, “come to me, all you who are weary and burdened, and I will give you rest. Take my yoke upon you and learn from me, for I am gentle and humble in heart, and you will find rest for your souls. For my yoke is easy and my burden is light.” I need rest – real rest. Not just momentary shut down.
I looked up Psalm 34:8 because I was familiar with the first part of the verse and was looking for the reference. But then I read the second part, “blessed is the one who takes refuge in Him.” And there it was. I was taking refuge in alcohol. But it only brought a curse. And the Lord promises me that if I take refuge in Him, I will not be bringing more burdens on myself, but will be blessed. The escape I have sought all these years has been available in the Lord the whole time. And not just momentary escape, but release of burdens, healing of wounds, freedom to live and breathe and love and find joy and peace.
I began to wonder about other areas that Satan has substituted false “buzzes” into when I should be seeking the power of God. But wouldn’t that be true of all addictions? Are they not all ways to find the “buzz”? Whether it is drugs or alcohol, food or diets, tv or exercise. If I am using them as a refuge, if I need them to get through my day, am I not missing out on the One that is truly my peace? Am I not just settling for a cheap substitute and not reaching for the real Sustainer?
How should I be reworking my day – my life – so that I can live in freedom all the time instead of only in those few moments when I catch a glimpse of the Lord? Let me start with seeking His presence in praise, tasting His goodness through His Word and releasing my burdens and finding peace through prayer. And after that, instead of picking up my burdens again, or focussing on the negative, I will do what Phil 4 verse 8 tells me to do, “whatever things are true, whatever things are noble, whatever things are just, whatever things are pure, whatever things are lovely, whatever things are of good report, if there is any virtue and if there is anything praiseworthy – meditate on these things.”
I want to be addicted…. to Jesus.

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