We say it doesn’t matter.
A little glance here, a thought there, a lighthearted conversation with friends, but it affects us. It changes us and before we know it, what once were lines we said we’d never cross have become mile markers that we passed a long ways back.
No, I’m not saying that every single line we put up is concrete. I thoroughly believe that sometimes, God pulls us out of our comfort zones, beyond various lines for his glory and our growth. The lines I’m talking about are the ones that affect our faith and impact our relationship with the Father. The ones that encourage us to fill our tongues with gossip and our minds with hate. The ones that makes Jesus second and wealth first. The ones that put this life as our prerogative and living it up as our directive. The ones that cause us to forget we are children of God and teach us not to pursue him. But we don’t think that will happen to us when we stick our toes into the water of lines we have zero business in crossing. We think it’s all fun and games and that once can’t hurt, but Sunday Hangovers never come without consequences.
Galatians 5:17 reminds us,
“Our sinful selves want what is against the Spirit, and the Spirit wants what is against our sinful selves. The two are against each other, so you cannot do just what you please.”
If we are honest with ourselves, we know that what our flesh desires feels good. It’s a sort of high that keeps us coming back if we aren’t careful. More dangerous than heroin and more deadly than an unmanned train barreling down the tracks, sin gives us a bite of something sweet. It offers us a taste of the fruit and coaxes us into believe that it’s good for us. It tells us that we can’t live with out it when in fact, it’s the very thing that will lead to our demise.
It’s the second glance that ties your hands
As darkness pulls the strings (Slow Fade, Casting Crowns)
Sin has it’s way of bringing us back for that second glance, that second drink, when we knew we should have stopped at one. It’s the shallow promise that one more taste will make the world a better place, that our lives will find more meaning, and we will regret not jumping on board. Once we’ve given in, our inability to resist lingers with us day after day until we are stuck in a desperate and habitual cycle; wanting to be released, but hanging on for ever possible morsel we can swallow.
We live this life meanwhile trying to hold down our “Christian” image. We tell ourselves that by Sunday, our minds will have detoxed and we will be receptive to the things God has for us. We give ourselves a pass during the week by only isolating a few hours on the weekend dedicated to God and decide that is plenty. We say we want to pay attention, to learn, to grow, but those “dedicated hours” quickly become the weekly chore that separates us from “freedom”.
But freedom, this life is not. Living on the edge of a leash, longing for just one more taste of that petrifyingly sweet, syrup of sin, our minds are anything but free to go about life. In fact, our entire beings are chained to the thing we chose to indulge in, that once sweet fruit that has now turned bitter, and the Hangover affect leaves us incapable of soaking up a single ounce of God’s goodness.
I don’t know what your “drink” is, but you can discover it by stepping back to identify what is continually on your mind, what is eating up your time, what you are hiding away in secret, or what is causing you to say, “No,” to God when you should be saying, “Yes.” Even things we deem good can fall into this list if they are taking over us and driving us away from what really matters. It’s imperative we identify whatever these things are and rid our lives of their grasp. (If your children or your spouse is on this list for you, please don’t use this as grounds for divorce. That is a situation you need to take to the Lord for guidance in giving him Lordship over your heart once again.)
We would never show up to Sunday service – to God’s presence – intoxicated. We would never dream of walking through the doors high, but our Spirits are embracing an equivalent lifestyle as we continually “look back” at the things, the activities, the people, the thoughts, and the deeds that our sins disguised as once pleasant. We carry the filth, the abominable stench of sin, into the sanctuary with us. We may keep our spiritual and emotional sunglasses on to avoid the light, hiding our true selves behind a smile, but all we are really doing is avoiding the One Thing that can deliver us from our Hangover. The Miracle that will alleviate us from our jaunt down this deadly path is right in front of us, but we look away. We look away believing that we are too far gone or, in our arrogance, too good to need such an intervention. Our sin blinds us, lies to us, and cheats us into believing that showing up is enough, but it will never be enough if we truly want to live life in freedom.
Just as an alcoholic must obtain entirely from drink lest he/she plummet back into that lifestyle, we must entirely separate ourselves from the temptation, whatever that may be. The only way to avoid a Hangover is to not get drunk in the first place and we can’t expect our spirits to fully detox if we continue to adhere to a lifestyle that pulls us from God. Instead, we must run toward him, arms stretched high asking for redemption and grace. He is desiring us to be honest with him about our troubles so he might pull us from the miry clay (Psalm 40:2). He will not force himself upon us to transform us from spiritual drunks to Men and Women of God. He isn’t interested in force feeding you milk so that you might grow into a mature follower, but he extends mercy if you are willing to accept it.
Right now, you can turn from your ways and allow the Lord to be glorified in you.
You are not too far gone.
You are not too far gone.