The Relapse that Wasn’t Worth it - Changing From my Old “Corduroys” to be a “Better Man”- Purity 593
Purity 593 12/04/2021 Purity 593 Podcast
Today’s photo of spectacular December sunset sky comes to us from the vantage point of a friend’s front porch in West Liberty, Kentucky. It’s a beautiful view but as nice as it is our friend has decided that they want to see the sky from different vantage points all over the country because despite relocating to Kentucky from New York earlier this year they have decided to sell their recently acquired home and to exchange it for an RV to travel the highways and bi-ways of our country to see and capture more of the beauty of God’s creation that surrounds us.
I can relate to that restless spirit to “come and see” as it has led me to seek the Lord and follow wherever He leads. My walk of faith has been an all inclusive trip that has included diving deep into God’s word and the teachings of the saints who have tried to unpack its wisdom; as well as an experiential journey that has led me to perform the good works that the Lord has prepared for me in my local communities as well as traveling to distant lands both nationally and internationally to answer His call.
As much as we may look to the outside for our meaning and purpose for God, He also calls us to renew our minds and to turn from our worldly ways and to adopt His way for living our lives. This inward transformative work can be a daunting task and as frustrating a process as changing the ways we how we think and act may be at times, the rewards of repentance are worth it. \
I have indicated in my continuing testimony my ongoing victories over my former addictions to alcohol, drugs, and sex and know that the process of recovery and repentance can be one marked with victories and defeats as sometimes our best efforts are dismantled by our own weakness.
While I was able to walk away from illicit and illegal drugs, one of which is now legal, in my own strength with the strong crutch of alcohol still holding me up, to be completely sober I needed the Lord’s strength.
In 2015, my church started a recovery ministry and when they did I knew that it was time to finally trust the Lord to take away that crutch of alcohol that I was bound to. I walked strong in recovery for two weeks but then due to corrupting influences of a former relationship and due to my own weakness, I relapsed at a “rock and roll” weekend of excess at an old resort near Hunter Mountain, in Greene County.
After two days of throwing off my restraint and indulging in alcohol, cigarettes, and magic mushrooms, (in for a penny in for a pound right?), I woke up Sunday morning heavily convicted and angry at my failure. I was mad that this relapse “wasn’t even worth it!”
I had thrown away two weeks of sobriety for a “not so great time” with people I didn’t know who seemed ravaged by the effects of their decades of addictions, doing the same things and singing the same songs over and over again since high school. They hadn’t grown in their maturity or learned from the suffering caused by their vicious cycles and seemed to be condemned to keep repeating them, to never escape from the lifestyle that would continue to destroy their health and possibly cost them their souls if they never turned to God.
So I was ashamed and felt guilty but unlike in times of the past, where I would have sheepishly lamented of the uselessness of trying to fight my addictions, I was filled with righteous indignation and recommitted myself to surrender to and to follow the Lord completely on the road to recovery.
As a forgiven saint, there was grace for my failure. God wasn’t going to disown me. Christ had paid the cost for all of my sins and that includes the one I haven’t done yet. My relationship with God wasn’t over and when I asked for forgiveness and recommitted myself to Him that morning, I knew that He was with me forever and that no matter what missteps I make in life He will never leave me or forsake me and that instead He will encourage me to keep following Him into the life that He wants for me, a life defined by the fruit of the Spirit rather than the sins of the flesh.
From that day in March of 2015, I have continued to surrender to and to follow the Lord and to walk in victory. My latest battle has been with my food addiction to processed foods and particularly sugar filled treats and candy.
I have made great advances in that fight this year but since October I have “given myself grace” to indulge in the occasional “cheat day”. Unfortunately, while a reasonable person may be able to be measured in their choices to step off the path of righteousness, I have that addict’s philosophy to go for broke when I indulge. Like an alcoholic who is incapable of seeing the point of only having a few drinks and figures if they are going to drink they most certainly are going to get good and hammered, when I give in to have some candy or other treat I usually have a lot.
Just like an addict, my little indulgences on holidays and “special occasions” have led to more “special occasions” and to me secretly grabbing unapproved foods and hiding my activities. Last night, it was Friday night, and I because I had been on my eating plan that is sugar free for several days decided that I was going to make it a “cheat day” and went overboard by eating several servings of candy.
This morning I feel like I did back in 2015. I feel that my relapse wasn’t even worth it! The sweets didn’t satisfy, and I pray that this will be a turning point from which I have a renewed conviction to not “keep going to the well” that has proven to be poisoned.
Food addiction is particularly difficult because we have to eat but when we avoid processed foods and eat the foods that God created and that have not been enhanced or corrupted by the hands of men, we feel healthier. So I am “outing” myself once again with the intention of picking myself back up and walking into the healthier life that God would have me live.
There is grace for our failures and there is even room for the enjoyment of all of hat the Lord has provided but when we throw off restraint in a reckless way like I do, we need to recognize that the way of victory may require cessation rather than moderation. If we can’t just enjoy a reasonable amount of something, it might be more reasonable for us not to have any.
Our walk of life is one in which we can take corrective action and when we see the same patterns of failure coming again and again, its time to get off the merry go round, ask the Lord to forgive us for our weakness, and to ask Him to strengthen and help us to go the way that we should go.
As I was considering this message some lyrics from some old Pearl Jam songs from their Vitalogy album came to mind and of course my aged brain had confused them and made two songs to be one. I had melded the lyrics of “Better Man” and “Corduroy” and was taken by how some of the themes in those songs reflected my past and my intention to be a “Better Man”.
Corduroy is sort of an anthem of rebellion and independence that speaks of not wanting to “hear from those who know” and not “wanting to be held in your debt” with the result of ending “up alone like I began.”
“Better Man” is actually a song about abuse, telling the tale of a woman who is trapped in a relationship with a man, and although she “dreams in colors” and “dreams in red”, “She lies and says she’s in love with him”, lamenting that she “Can’t find a better man, Can’t find a better man…”
Both songs are meaningful I guess because I was that independent spirit that would do things his way to point of my own detriment and that I know what it is like to feel trapped in cycles of addictions and abusive relationships but because of God I have a new hope.
I don’t have to “…be damned, All alone like I began”. God has saved me and encourages me to walk further into the life He has for me. I don’t have to earn it. I “Can’t buy what I want because it’s free.”
God has called me out of the darkness to be the “better man” that I never thought I could be.
And even though I know this latest slip up was only candy and there is grace for it, I know that with God’s strength I can be a better man and no longer have to give in to these food binges that only result in a feelings of sickness, shame, and futility.
I also know that my battle is not just my own. There are others who are trapped in bad relationships and addictive patterns. And if my testimony can help even one person to seek the Lord and find their freedom in Christ, I simply must continue to “take my lumps” and keep walking towards the light and to become the better man that God has already given me the power to be.
So keep walking and talking with God. Our journey of faith doesn’t end and the rewards for faithfully pursuing repentance and the Lord’s will and purpose for our lives is worth it.
Today’s Bible verse is drawn from “The NLT Bible Promise Book for Men”.
This morning’s meditation verse is:
Lamentations 5:19 (NLT2)
19 But LORD, you remain the same forever! Your throne continues from generation to generation.
Today’s verse continues the theme that we have been discussing over the last few days: that God is eternal and does not change. God remains the same forever and His throne continues from generation to generation.
In my limited time each day I generally don’t have time to read the resource that I share on the blog after I speak about the meditation verse of the day. To be honest I sometimes don’t read the shared resources I post in their entirety at all but know they could help someone else.
Today I took a moment to read from A.W. Tozer’s advent devotional before I wrote the first part of today’s message, as I have decided to be intentional about making it a part of my preparations for this year’s Christmas celebration. I enjoyed what I read and I feel that it is a fitting commentary for today’s verse. So instead of sharing my thoughts I would direct all who read this to continue on, and for all who hear this on the podcast to forgive me if I studder through this most excellent text:
As always, I invite all to go to mt4christ.org where I always share insights from prominent Christian theologians and counselors to assist my brothers and sisters in Christ with their walk.
Today we continue sharing from A.W. Tozer’s Advent Devotional – From Heaven, for Day 8, as this current resource series will lead us to Christmas Eve.
As always, I share this information for educational purposes and encourage all to purchase A.W. Tozer’s books for your own private study and to support his work.
LIGHT FOR THE DARKNESS
Your word is a lamp for my feet, a light on my path. PSALM 119:105
This revelation of Jesus Christ has to do with His relationship to the Father, to the human race, and to the church. It has to do with His relationship to Israel, to the nations, to our enemy the devil, and to the coming judgment.
Ministers faithful to the Word of God have always said that Christ can be found on every page of the Bible. In the Revelation, we see Him dominating the eternal future. The message of the book is the almost overwhelming portrayal of Christ’s victory, bringing about the final destruction of Satan and all of his works.
Part of our Christian restfulness comes from the fact that we are in the hands of a loving God who has already existed throughout all of the tomorrows. Because all time is in God, the flow of time never concerns God. He never has to run in an effort to catch up with the movement of time. The end of time is seen by God just as easily as the beginning of time.
That is why the Bible tells us that God knows the end from the beginning. That is why a godly man like John, caught up in the Spirit of God, could be shown the outline of future events. They were future to him, and they are future to us. That is because we are in the stream of time. They are not future to God because He is not in the stream of time.
Revelation is the only New Testament book that may be classified as “predictive” in its character and content. (It has been interesting to me to find in the writings of Blaise Pascal, the great 17th-century scientist and religious philosopher, his conclusion that no true prediction of mankind’s future can be found anywhere but in the Christian Scriptures.)
About the predictive quality of the Scriptures we ought to be in agreement. If there cannot be any valid foresight, no revelation from God, nothing to warn us or prepare us for tomorrow, this life on earth would have to be considered a gloomy business indeed. Thankfully, we have a definite word, a promise upon which we can lean. Peter, one of God’s special spokesmen, expressed it this way:
We have also a more sure word of prophecy; whereunto ye do well that ye take heed, as unto a light that shineth in a dark place, until the day dawn, and the day star arise in your hearts: Knowing this first, that no prophecy of the scripture is of any private interpretation. For the prophecy came not in old time by the will of man: but holy men of God spake as they were moved by the Holy Ghost.
2 PETER 1:19–21
As Christian believers, we are assured that no matter how dark it becomes around us, God will faithfully provide the illumination of His Spirit. The Old Testament offers in the release of Israel from Egyptian bondage a fitting illustration. When God was moving toward the climax of that deliverance, the darkness of night covered Egypt, but, miraculously, there was light in the dwellings of all of the Israelites. So, too, there is light even now for us who are Christian believers concerning our future. God’s Word is a light that shines in a dark place until the morning star rises in our hearts.
Tozer, A. W. (2016). From heaven: a 28-day advent devotional. Chicago, IL: Moody Publishers.
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