I’ve been choosing, for more than 12 years now, to avoid something which once held me in its grip and made me a slave to its influence. Having been set free from alcoholism, I have made hundreds, possibly even thousands of daily decisions to choose some other source of refreshment and satisfaction. Thus far, I have simply accepted this one-day/one-choice-at-a-time lifestyle as the means by which I am able to live a healthy life, without the many regrets that I once knew.
This past weekend, however, something became clear to me which is worth celebrating and sharing! In a conversation about the occasional temptation to have a drink, my answer, for the first time, was different than the response I have learned to give. For years, my reason for saying no to temptation was the humble admission that I simply can’t. I know my own weakness and inability to stop at one drink, and I am deeply aware of the generational cords which addiction has wrapped around the necks of nearly everyone in my family. To entertain even the thought of one drink would be deadly for me.
At times, this answer has come easily. And at times, it has come with great struggle, as I had to fight the desire I still felt to indulge in what presented itself as a simple, harmless pleasure. No matter the feeling behind the response, however, I have accepted that this is the choice I must make, over and over again, for the rest of my life.
This weekend, as I stepped into a monumental celebration, choice presented itself once again. Although, after 12 years, temptation is no longer a frequent visitor, it still knocks on the door of my heart every once in a while. I expected the usual conversation to take place, but was quite surprised at the response of my heart this time! Rather than explain why I couldn’t, my heart explained why I wouldn’t even want to: because I am fully satisfied; because I can’t imagine a life better than this; because I wouldn’t trade this freedom and this richness and this identity for anything, especially a drink.
I realize this kind of transformation must have happened slowly, choice by choice, over the years in which I have struggled to resist what my heart once desired. But the progression has seemed to all of a sudden, in a moment’s time, yield something so unexpectedly miraculous that I can’t help but laugh in wondrous surprise.
I suppose I shouldn’t be surprised. This, afterall, has been the promise of the God Who delivered me – that I should know and be so satisfied by His fullness that I would need and want nothing less. But in the years of struggle, when my days consisted of grueling choice after grueling choice, it seemed this day would never come. I suppose I got used to that feeling, and resigned myself to always having to fight the desire I still found lurking in my soul.
Ah, but alas, it is no more! I have truly been transformed. What once was a choice I had to make, is now a privilege I get to live, because I have been made new. I have come to know change at the level of my desires, by the God Who delights to create a clean heart in me, no longer polluted by influences that weaken and destroy me and my relationships.
This life is good. Because the God Who has given me this life is good.
In your struggle today – whatever it might be with – trust that He is leading you into the same transformation I have experienced, through the daily progression of your choices to want what He wants for you, and to refuse anything that He doesn’t. There will come a day when it is no longer a fight to refuse what wants to kill you, because your heart and desires have been made new. God is faithful, and He will bring you all the way through!