Have you ever had a bad habit? Biting your nails, saying hi to Ben & Jerry at 3AM, downing 12 Diet Cokes a day? And come New Years, you resolve that this is the year—no more (fill in the blank with habit of choice). For the first few days, you’re on track. The excitement of taking on your latest foe keeps you energized and focused. The next week, though, your adrenaline is beginning to wane a bit and the lure of that cold Diet Coke staring at you through the drink machine at work is getting stronger. Before long, the hold you think you’ve broken re-emerges and there you go—drinking the soft drink, downing the ice cream, chomping the nails or other such vices. (And yes, I am talking from personal experience!)
Now, when you think about this scenario with rather innocuous images like ice cream or soft drinks, it doesn’t seem all that extreme. But what about when those habits are more serious? Even life-threatening? Be it alcohol, drugs, exercise, eating disorders, inappropriate relationships or other, we are extremely vulnerable to addiction. Why? Because we’re a people in need. God created us that way. He knew that we were fragile. He knew we needed comfort and strength and refuge. And He provided it…He provides it still.
However, for many of us, we don’t like our comfort to be intangible. We’d prefer to lay down a few dollars or send out a text and immediately receive the effects of our drug of choice. Before we even realize it, we have become enslaved to the benefits of instant relief and gratification. We are slaves to our own desires. And while we may not be in chains or behind bars, we are most definitely not free.
While we’re in the midst of it, chances are we know that something’s off. We know that our minds shouldn’t be consumed with what awaits us after dark for our little shot of euphoria. We know that many of our decisions are those we hope our children never witness, much less our God view from on high. Despite those reservations, it’s still much too easy to convince ourselves that we’re not really hurting anyone else. We’re good people most of the time…this is just our little way of unwinding and disconnecting.
How easily we believe our own manipulation! This is NOT the life God intended for you or me or anyone. His intent is that we walk freely in the joy of our salvation through Him. He desires to be our refuge. He offers the relief and comfort we need and He daily knocks on our hearts with His hands extended. So why don’t we answer? Why don’t we embrace His offering? I think it’s because we don’t really grasp what true freedom looks like. I read once that after the emancipation of slavery, many slaves stayed on the property, working for the same owner for whom they had been. It was familiar. It was convenient and it didn’t require the risk of the unknown.
How often do you and I do that very same thing? God has freed us from every snare of this world. By the death of Christ on the cross and the resurrection that followed, we were offered the key that unlocks every chain and tears down every stronghold keeping us from the abundant life we were meant to live. But when we’re faced with boldly leaving the slave quarters we’ve known for so long, for an unmarked, foreign wilderness, it just seems like too much risk. It seems to ask from us more than we can give.
Here’s the good news—it’s never too late. Even if you have been enslaved to a habit or sin every day of your life, God’s offer of freedom is as good today as any other. In our inconsistent attempts to be who we were created to be, God lovingly and consistently offers Himself. I dare you to take what He has and run with it. I dare you to allow what may seem like an intangible offering to break through the chains of earthly voices that still hold you captive.
You and I are FREE. We are NO LONGER slaves to anything. We are HIS. We are LOVED. And HE is more than enough for every hurt that we try to numb or void we try to fill. Trust Him today with your need. And believe that the freedom He offers is always the better option. The only option. You are free. Don’t stay in your slave quarters anymore. Live. Love. And claim your freedom today.