I’m not really fond of continuing a message from the previous week, but there are a few “afterthoughts” from last week’s post that I simply can’t ignore. Some of what I want to share with you today came to me in the couple of days that followed my humble offering to you. Call it a “post-post self-discovery”, if you will. The rest of it came from reflecting on a handful of the comments that many of you graciously shared with me.
I have to tell you that my wife Jackie wasn’t in favor of last week’s message. As a matter of fact, I could sense that she was really opposed to it, but didn’t have the heart to come right out and tell me. You see, I’d wanted to write about my addiction several times before. And each time she had talked me out of it. Putting myself in her position, I could see how having your spouse openly declare a prior addiction to cocaine would be a bit embarrassing. But here’s the thing: Jackie wasn’t being protective of herself or her reputation. Quite the contrary…she was trying to protect my reputation! What would people think of me if they knew that cocaine was my constant companion during an eighteen month period over twenty years ago? Would they understand, or would they condemn me for it? Revealing some of my past might hinder my chances of doing, well, doing whatever it is that God put me here to do!
Tongue in cheek, I told Jackie that I wasn’t planning on running for President, that I certainly wasn’t going to be elected as the Pope, that being fifty-seven entitled me to share what’s on my mind, and in light of the fact that we’re self-employed, there was no chance of me getting fired!
Being the amazingly supportive wife that Jackie is, and knowing what I was thinking, she simply said, “If God put this on your heart to share it, who am I to tell you not to do it?”
I took a deep breath, offered a silent prayer, and then tapped the “Enter” key on my laptop, sending my post into cyberspace, for all to see.
One week later…
All of the comments and e-mails that I’ve received since last week’s post have been very supportive. Before I continue with what’s on my mind, I want to share some of what was on your minds…
“Thank you for sharing that powerful testimony. God is so good…praise Him for freeing you.” Susie
“I love you Sam, for your willingness to share your vulnerabilities. It makes us willing to do the same because of your example. I know God will use this post in a mighty way!!!!” Sharon
Wow! He who the Son hath set free is free indeed! Our God is an awesome God!” Linda
“In the blink of an eye…I fully understand the power of His restoration and liberation. Amazing.” Melanie
“…God can set us free from the burdens that capture our life. Amazingly, it’s as simple as asking. In the darkest hours, He can provide that flicker of light that we need so desperately. Why not ask?” Jane
“Why are we amazed when God performs a miracle such as the one He gave to you? Our Creator God has the power to turn this whole world upside down and inside out!” Donna
As always, thank you so much for sharing your thoughts with me. Your feedback is the fuel that feeds the fire!
What pleased me the most was that you recognized not what I did, but what God did for me…I’ve told you many, many times that God has performed miracle upon miracle in my life. This was yet another example of one of those miracles. In the offering of a simple prayer, and in the blink of an eye, God loosened the deadly grip of this powerful addiction on my life. How awesome indeed is our God!
Okay, I’ll admit that my admission of a cocaine addiction to you took a bit of courage…courage that was readily supplied to me by the Holy Spirit. If you will ask to receive the Holy Spirit each day, you will be amazed that the seemingly insurmountable challenges in your life get smaller and smaller.
I’ve shared the story of my addiction with several people before, and almost without fail, the reaction to my revelation has been the same: rather than look down on me, as one might expect, most admire me for overcoming my weakness and my courage for sharing my darkest secrets so openly.
There is a certain strength, or perhaps it’s a sense of relief, to be gained by sharing our problems with others. When we do, we often find that we’re not alone in what we’ve done…everyone has a “past”…has done things that they regret. Did I think that I was the only person in the world who had done cocaine or had been divorced? Of course not! It was just the guilt, or perhaps shame for what I’d done that got me more than anything. Of course, now I don’t have to worry about carrying those secrets around with me. I’ve shared them with you, and the world, so I don’t have to worry about anyone finding out about them! I’ve put that baggage down.
Sadly, I believe that many of us try to forget some of the things that we’ve done in the past, either from the need to hide our actions from others, or perhaps even worse, from ourselves. Here’s the thing: we never forget the bad stuff. Ever. Oh, we may wrap it up in a cocoon and store it away in the darkest corners of our minds, kidding ourselves, convincing ourselves, that whatever it was never happened. But the memory is always there, waiting for the right opportunity to haunt us again. And again. And again.
You know what? Satan loves this! I’m telling you that he does. You see, when we try to hide the past from ourselves, we never reach the point of forgiving ourselves for our mistakes. And that inability to forgive stands between us and God. If we can’t look into our own faces, how could we ever deem ourselves worthy enough to look into the face of God? How could we possibly hope to have a complete relationship with Him?
Jesus carried the cross, put Himself on it, and took those nails so that we would be forgiven for the sin that we come into this world with; the sin of Adam and Eve. He wiped the slate clean for us. Everything else, everything else…every sin, every evil thought, word, and deed, will be forgiven simply for the asking.
Well, if it’s as simple as asking, what stands in our way?
We are our own worst enemy. We trick ourselves into believing that we can never be forgiven for what we’ve done in the past, so we just try to forget that it ever happened.
Don’t try to forget what you’ve done in the past. Accept it! Lay claim to it. Own it. And then?
If you haven’t done so, ask God to forgive you. Then forgive yourself. Put it down, that “junk” that you’ve been carrying around for months, perhaps years. You were younger, more foolish, and not so wise. That was then…this is now…let go of the past.
Then run to God with the exuberance of a child rushing into his Daddy’s arms. Do you remember what that felt like? You can have that feeling again, if you can get past yourself.
God is waiting for you. What are you waiting for?
See you next week.