I don’t remember exactly how old I was, maybe 10 or 11. We had gone somewhere in the neighborhood on foot. But along the way we lit up a smoke. I don’t know where it came from, where the matches came from but we had a cigarette and we lit it and started smoking it. That was when things took a turn for the worse and to this day I can put myself right there on the sidewalk, the warm concrete of a summer day comforting my green face. I got so dizzy, sick, nauseated. Everything was spinning, it was horrible and the only small element of comfort came from laying down right then on the sidewalk.
When I began using chewing tobacco so many years later it was about the same thing. I had been given some free at a trade show and it sat around. One day out of boredom I opened a package and slapped a chunk into my mouth. Ugg, gross, what could anyone ever like about this. Same thing the next day until I was “enjoying” the use of it every day for years.
A couple years ago I went to the doctor for my regular yearly checkup that I have every couple years if I remember. I was in fine health except he suggested I watch my sugar intake. Well you could have just said don’t touch that little boy or you will get burned. I have since had a terrible craving for sweets of every kind. What the heck. I am drawn to it like a bug to a light.
So often the things we are drawn to are the things that can wound us or are the most unhealthy for us. Tobacco, sugar, relationships, work, money.
Judas was one of Jesus’ chosen apostles. There was quite a ruckus when it came to being part of the inner 12, lots of guys wanted in, but he was selected. What an honor. Alas, he became drawn away by riches and fame. He saw the procurement of silver worth more than the relationship he had formed with the other apostles and even more, Jesus. He was hearing the truth, he was witnessing incredible miracles and having life explained to him personally by God’s son and he could not keep it together.
All the apostles struggled with believing the things Jesus was teaching them over the three years He was with them. Walking for days right next to Him, sleeping outside under the starts night after night. Yet struggling. How could that possibly be?
I don’t fall prey to everything that comes my way that is unhealthy for me. I do have some inner strength. I have discovered that many of the demons I struggle with have more meaning below the surface.
Take the young man I talked with recently who said he always has a set of clothes and other assorted things in his truck. As a boy, his parents divorced and every other week he would be shuffled back and forth from his mom’s to his dad’s. Inevitably he would forget something and have to do without. Even worse one of his parents would voice a disappointing word that he forgot a needed item. The fear, the wound, carried over to this day, he is 30.
If you study up on Judas just a bit, you see he came from a background where he pilfered a few coins on occasion in his past job. John 12:6, “He said this, not because he cared about the poor, but because he was a thief, and having charge of the moneybag he used to help himself to what was put into it.” He was also the guy in charge of the 12 apostles’ money, and he may have been tempted there as well. So he had a struggle he carried with him, a demon. Was it that he was poor as a child and never wanted to be without a coin in his pocket again. Was he hungry as a child and had made a promise to himself to never subject himself to that again; we may never know. We do know it did not turn out well for him.
We all have our struggles, our demons. Call it what you like, call it sin, we all have it. It has been there since Adam and Eve let it in. Forgiveness is only found in the process of Romans 10:9. Does that mean we will never fall back or discover other transgressions, no, not at all.
I can count off a list of times I have tried something with a bad outcome or experience and despite the consequences or known danger, did it again, and again. What about the old saying, “if you touch the stove and burn yourself you learn not to touch the stove.” My hands are all burned up and I continue to touch the dang flame. Not always in the same place, not always the same stove.
Things that once did not bother me now burn when I touch them. Things I once thought I enjoyed are now offensive to me. I don’t laugh at all the same things and cringe at ideas I once found appealing. It might be old age, maybe it is lack of brain power, I think it is God working on me.
Good news is, the victories outweigh the losses or failures. The light at the end of the tunnel, the prize, the gift of life today far exceed the negative. I am so glad to be in a relationship with Christ. So glad. I am so excited with all the things He has and continues to do in my life. He strengthens me and loves me and cares for me like I have never experienced and it is what I was looking for my entire life. A family, a place to belong, someone to care for me so deeply that they would take a bullet for me, or give their son to die on the cross for me. Incredible.