“For where your treasure is, there your heart will be also.” (Matthew 6:21)
The longer I stay sober, the more I can see that just not drinking isn’t enough. I am not saying that everyday I choose to not pour alcohol into my body is not a victory for me. Sobriety is made up of 24 hours of one day at a times. Winning the battle against the compulsion we alcoholics once had to drink is fantastic. But if all I am doing is not taking a drink, then I am selling myself short.
You hear about it all the time. Someone has sobered up but they are stil acting like unhealthy people. Essentially they are acting exactly the way they acted when they were drinking, only now they are sober.
“She quit drinking, but she is still angry all the time.”
“He stopped using, but he is spending money like it grows on trees and going through a new woman every week.”
“She doesn’t drink but she is still at the bar every night acting like a drunk.”
This is because drinking was merely a symptom of other things going on inside of us. I walked around with an emptiness that I was trying desperately to fill with something or someone that would make me feel better about my life. I tried so hard to fill it that I ended up almost drowning myself. I tricked myself into thinking alcohol was the magical potion that made my life feel worth living. I convinced myself it was the answer to everything I had been looking for.
This isn’t just a problem for alcoholic people. We live in a world where people are always looking for that “thing” that is going to make their life complete. We strive after success, fame, and money. We go to work to pay off the mortgage to the dream house we barely live in. We want the best car, the newest gadget, and the fastest technology we can get our hands on. We spend millions to make ourselves look better with beauty regimens and plastic surgeries that leave us wanting more. We think if we fix our outsides we will fix our insides. We think having a lot of nice stuff will fill up the holes we have in our souls.
“Delight yourself in the Lord, and He shall give you the desires of your heart.” (Psalm 37:4)
The truth is, we are all walking around with a God sized vacuum in our hearts. We can try to fill it with other things and be happy, but we will find over and over again that these things are only temporary fixes. Like patching a leak in a garden hose. Nothing will ever fix the hole in our hearts the way Jesus Christ will.
I was having a discussion with a dear friend of mine who told me that when she talks about her relationship with Christ, she gets so excited and “revved up,” that she gets goosebumps and is sometimes moved to tears. That is exactly what it is like when you find something that finally makes you feel complete, alive, and filled with joy. It is like being in love. When you are in love, you want to tell everyone about that person, you want to shout it from the rooftops. That is what it feels like to know Jesus Christ.
Knowing all of this, I still have moments where I am feeling empty and low. I wish sometimes I had more money, more “stuff” to make me happy. I wonder why certain things happen to people and why He allows it. I get angry and resentful. I have times where I am ugly inside and give in to the ways of this world. There are days where a voice snarls in my ear: “It sure would be nice to have a drink today, wouldn’t it?”
Having Christ doesn’t make a person perfect. It doesn’t make my life problem free or sinless. It doesn’t mean that I don’t mess up. But it does mean that I have a Savior who forgives me, who offers me His word for comfort and answers, and who loves me when I don’t deserve it. I have tried to fill up my life with other things, but nothing compares to the joy of knowing Him. He takes all the garbage I carried inside of myself and gets rid of it for me. He helps direct my path and keep me going in the right direction. He helps me let go of what needs to be gone and fill it with things He has for me.
“And this same God who takes care of me will supply all your needs from His glorious riches, which have been given to us in Christ Jesus.” (Philippans 4:19)
Turns out I am richer and more fulfilled then I ever thought possible. And I don’t need to drink anymore to fill the holes in my soul. He is all I ever needed.
“When my heart is overwhelmed, lead me to the rock that is higher than I.” (Psalm 61:2)