I am not going to lie, the Bible use to confuse the bejesus out of me. (pun intended).
I knew the basics. Adam and Eve. Noah and his ark. The ten commandments. I knew there was a man named Jesus who had died on a cross. Christmas was His birthday. Easter was about Him dying on the cross and how he rose 3 days later. If I believed these things and led a good life, then I would get to go to the big party in the sky called Heaven. If I did not, I would go to that other place. As for the other stories in the Bible, well they were of no interest to me. A bunch of “thous” and “thou shall nots” and some other mumbo-jumbo.
Words on a page.
It was only after addiction ravished my life and I had a lot of rehab time on my hands that I actually started reading what was inside the book that graced every dresser at every hotel across America. There was so much I did not understand. But I started to read about Jesus. I was very interested in what He had to say, because it all seemed to apply to me. Being lost, check. Being broken, check. Needing forgiveness, um, huge check. He said He had come to save the sinners, to bridge the gap between us and God so that we could have a relationship with Him. He said, He could give me a brand new life.
I wanted that. I was so tired of the life I had been living. I began to feel in my heart…something. I read more, and learned how to ask Jesus into my life, to have a relationship with Him. Suddenly, God’s word was alive in me, I couldn’t get enough of it. I learned about David killing Goliath, Moses parting the Red Sea, and how Jesus said all you need is faith as small as a mustard seed. I learned about grace, love, and forgiveness. I learned that I deserved none of those things, but God had given them to me through the death and resurrection of His Son.
So I started to spend a lot of time with His Son.
I started applying what I was learning to my life, and to my recovery. I didn’t get it all perfect. I messed up, and still do. But it changed things. I celebrate 15 months sober today, and I credit God with every single one of them. I know that without Him, I would have drank many times in the past 15 months.
On Friday, I was shopping at a grocery store that also happens to connect to a liquor store. I have been struggling the past few weeks with temptation, and was feeling worn down by it. I decided I should probably just give in and buy a small bottle of alcohol to sooth the cravings. I was sick of the temptations, the drinking dreams, the constant battle to stay sober. Nobody would know, and I sure would feel better about things.
I knew I did not want to do this, that it was my addiction talking, but it felt so strong. I began to pray a verse that I often refer to when faced with a situation like this. Over and over again I repeated: “No temptation has overtaken me that is not common to man. But God is faithful, and with this temptation, He will provide me with a way of escape so that I may be able to endure it.” (from 1 Corinthians 10:13) I pushed my grocery cart around a corner, repeating my prayer, and suddenly ran smack-dab into a “old-timer” from a 12 step meeting I have attended.
There was no way I could carry out my plan with him around, so I made chit-chat before turning another corner, half hoping he would checkout so I could follow through on my previous plan. As I looked to see what aisle I was in, I found myself looking right into the eyes of Jesus! I had turned my cart down the only aisle in a grocery store that just happens to carry Jesus candles next to it’s ethnic foods.
“But God is faithful. And with that temptation, He will provide you with a way of escape, so that you may be able to endure it.”
I had to laugh. Between my run-in with the old timer, and the random Jesus candle, I would say God was providing me with two reminders of why I needed to ditch my crazy plan and turn my eyes back to Him. I paid for my things, walked past the liquor store door, and went home.
Those words on a page had changed my outcome.
I woke up sober the next day, and marveling at our God. The God of the universe had seen it fit to keep His word to me. He had stayed faithful. And I had chosen to also stay faithful. His word is as true today as a million yesterday’s ago. His word is truth! His word is power! It changes things. It changed me.