(Photo: Dan Delzell)
Perhaps you or someone you know is always losing the battle with an addiction. It might be alcohol or drugs. It could be pornography or gambling. Whatever the addiction, there is a path that leads to victory and freedom. God wants you and your loved ones to be free from any destructive obsessions. Sin no longer has to have the upper hand in your life.
When it comes to victory over your addiction, accountability is huge. I have a good friend in our church who was an atheist for 40 years. Six years before he became a Christian, he stopped drinking. That was 31 years ago. Since then, he has attended AA meetings two or three times a week. He has not had a drink in 31 years. He points to accountability as the key.
I would like to suggest a plan to you that will work if you implement it. You can literally text your way to victory over your addiction. All that is needed is a close friend who owns a cell phone, and a willingness to engage in up-to-the-minute honesty with one another.
Here is how it works. Imagine yourself sitting in your living room with Jesus. The two of you are having a good visit. Your heart is filled with peace and you are not having even one thought in the direction of your addiction. And oh yeah....your shoes are off.
That is the image I would like you to envision as something you could be enjoying all day every day: you and your Savior sitting together in close fellowship and genuine friendship with one another. That is a place of peace, rest and contentment. In that place, you are not feeling even slightly compelled or driven to feed your addiction.
The moment you are tempted with a thought in the area of your addiction is a temptation to "put your shoes on." You are tempted to stand up with your shoes on and walk in the direction of your addiction. Putting on your shoes is a "1" on the scale of 1 to 10. A "1" involves a minute or so of willful mental focus on your sinful desire which has presented itself in the form of a visual image or some "trigger" in your life. A full-blown relapse is a "10."
A "2" would involve dwelling on your sinful desires for a few more moments rather than "praying it back down" to a zero. A "3" would mean that you spent 30 minutes or more "toying" with your compulsion in your mind. If your addiction is alcohol, a "3" would be those initial thoughts of where and when you would have the opportunity to start drinking. If your addiction is sexual lust, a "3" would mean that you have been fixated on someone or some image that has led you to start walking away from that place of peace with Jesus. You have started to feed your addiction even though you are telling yourself that you are still in control of it.
By the time you hit a "4" or a "5," it is going to feel nearly impossible to get back down to zero anytime soon. You are well on your way to a complete relapse. At this point, the idea of sitting there with Jesus and talking together is very foreign to your thinking. You have suddenly lost your hunger and thirst for Christ and for God's Word and prayer. You have allowed "your other god" to take center stage in your mind. You are being strongly driven in that direction as you willfully walk that way....and it all began a few hours earlier when you put your shoes on.
You may be someone who has gone from zero to 10 on hundreds of occasions. There is hope for you my friend. But it is going to require that you enlist the help of a close personal friend with a cell phone. If you will commit to being totally honest with that person, you can get free by the grace of God.
Here is how it works. You give your friend the right to text you at any point during the day. When you receive the word "shoes" as a text message, you respond with a number. If you are at peace with Jesus and not even having a thought about your sinful addiction, you text back "0." If you have been indulging your mind in the area of your addiction for the past 10 minutes for so, you text back a "2" or a "3." If you got up to "3" earlier in the day, but had seen it brought back down through prayer and Scripture meditation, you can text, "3 earlier.....prayed down to 0."
The best thing to do is for you to "self-report" to your friend the minute you put your shoes on. Immediately text "1" to your friend. Your friend will begin praying right away. If you hesitate and allow your mind to flirt with the addiction for a few minutes, text a "2." The sooner you text a number to your friend, the more likely it will be that you will be able to get back to "0" quickly and back to that place of peace. Every minute is critical. Some people go from 1 to 5 faster than others. The stronger the addiction, the harder it will be to bring it back down to "0" once you have hit a "3" or a "4."
Your friend is there to support you no matter what number you send. The goal is to live life in freedom with Christ and to keep your shoes off. You know what has happened in the past almost every time you put your shoes on. You don't stop at "1" or "2." You allow it to fester in your mind and you give in to your addiction.
It doesn't have to stay that way. God can set you free. Your friend will be a key part of the equation. So will your honesty as you self-report to your friend. If you are not completely honest with your friend as you text the numbers, this plan won't work. You will continue to deceive yourself as well as your friend.
The choice is yours. You can bring your sin to the cross where Jesus paid for all of your bad decisions and destructive behavior. He will forgive you. How badly do you want to be free from your addiction for the sake of your relationship with Christ, and for the sake of your family? That's an old pair of shoes anyway. Just throw them away. I feel led to tell you my friend what the Lord said to Moses: "Take off your sandals, for the place where you are standing is holy ground." (Exodus 3:5)