Prov. 23:35 (NKJV): “They have struck me, but I was not hurt; They have beaten me, but I did not feel it. When shall I awake, that I may seek another drink?”
Rom. 8:6 (NLT): “So letting your sinful nature control your mind leads to death. But letting the Spirit control your mind leads to life and peace.”
Phil. 4:7 (CSB): “And the peace of God, which surpasses all understanding, will guard your hearts and minds in Christ Jesus.”
MARTINIS ARE OUT; HOLY SPIRIT IS IN
FOR MOST OF MY LIFE, I lived without the Holy Spirit in my heart. I did not know the Lord in a personal way.
IF I WORSHIPPED anything besides myself, it was an extra dry Bombay gin Martini, with properly chilled glass and garnished with a queen-sized olive.
When I went to church, which was rare, it was more out of a sense of duty than of worship … and it certainly was not to offer thanksgiving or repent of sin!
Mostly, I slobbered over young attractive women, especially the ones who sat in church without a boyfriend groping at them throughout the service. I was a strong proponent of immodest clothing and loved watching the women play with their hair.
For 20 years, comprising the time of my first marriage through the wilderness of divorce, I was a “devout Unitarian Universalist,” if there was such a thing. Once I became convinced the UU church was a dead end, I left … and I struggled some more.
DROWNING MY DEMONS
WHEN MY DEMONS became too numerous to handle, I turned to alcohol to deaden the pain. Frankly, that happened every day.
That was an “easy fix,” and, over the decades, I became very adapt at maintaining an adequate supply of gin and vermouth and olives, chilling my glasses to keep them at the ready, then chilling the gin in easy-to-pour bottles so I would not have to waste time mixing the liquid with ice cubes. Even the vermouth was stored in the refrigerator. I never ran out of olives.
Within minutes of arriving home after work, I could fix a strong drink even during winter months when that drink would be made before I took off my coat and scarf.
As time went out, year after year, my life turned downhill, and my future turned bleaker.
In lucid moments, before the sweet relief of alcohol dulled my senses, I looked into the crystal ball of looming retirement and could only see blackness — a broken man, solitary, with minimal funds, and no hope.
TURNING A CORNER
IN NOVEMBER 2006, my life’s journey turned a corner. I met a single woman for lunch, and she asked me, “Ward, do you have a church home?” I said I did not. She then gave me a testimony regarding the importance of church.
As she talked, I determined to try church provided it could be with her. She allowed me at first before ditching me because I was not a Christian. I left her church for another one and two years later met a woman who led me to yet a third church.
There, I met the Holy Spirit.
Everything from the friendliness of the worshippers to the welcome coffee in the atrium to the upbeat praise and worship music to the doctrinally sound pastor’s message showed me a vision of God that I had never seen before.
Yet, through my stubbornness, it still took me another two years — four years from the time I was asked about having a church home — before I turned my life over to Jesus Christ and received the Holy Spirit into my heart. That was November 2010 — 10 years ago this month. Happy Anniversary to me!
I begged Him to do what He long wanted to do — captain my life, steer me in the right direction, and restore love and peace to my troubled soul.
That day merely began the course correction.
COMPLETE OVERHAUL UNDERWAY
THE LORD IMMEDIATELY went to work, healing my brokenness and giving me hope for a future, not just in this world but, more importantly, in the world of eternity.
Yes, wouldn’t you know, His first order of business was to convict me of alcohol abuse and encourage me, and then demand of me, that I stop drinking altogether.
That involved another three-year struggle, but He won that battle, and now I’m free of the devil’s solution to my emptiness. At the same time, He introduced me to a Christian woman, who became my wife.
As each day, week, month, and year passes, I learn more and more about God’s promises and how He wants to lead me (and all of His children) into an abundant life (John 10:10b).
Today’s text source speaks volumes into my heart. My sinful nature was leading me into death, and God’s Holy Spirit was the rescue mission to redeem me.
The Lord’s love for His children gives meaning to my life in a way that I never could have imagined before surrendering my will for my life to His will for my life.
His Spirit fills my heart with joy even when I’m hurting. Even though I am not always happy or content, I am always joyful.
HEALING EVERYONE’S HEART
BUT WHAT ABOUT YOUR HEART?
Do you fill the empty spaces with something other than God’s Holy Spirit?
It could be alcohol … or it could be something else … illegal drugs, promiscuous sex, uncontrolled gambling, pursuit of pleasure, excessive devotion to work or service projects or exercise or children’s activities … anything that takes the place of our loving God.
If so, remember that God said anything that takes His place in our hearts is wrong and sinful: “You shall have no other gods before me.” (Exodus 20:3 NET)
Yes, filling that place God intended for Himself to fill with anything other than His Holy Spirit is worshipping a false god. Satan would love to help you find a substitute to deaden the pain, when only God can provide a solution to heal the pain (Matt. 11:28).
If so, I invite you to claim the promises of our loving and gracious God, who loves each of us so much “that he gave his one and only Son” (John 3:16 NIV) to die for our sin that we might be reconciled to God and live … really and truly live.
~All the praise, honor, and glory
go to the King of kings
and Lord of lords.~