Romans 13:11,12 The hour has come for you to wake from sleep… The night is far gone; the day is at hand. So then let us cast off the works of darkness and put on the armor of light.
I still occasionally have using dreams, common to those in recovery, in which I dream that I have relapsed. In the dream, I cash in my sobriety, family and career for a quick high and I ruin my life. Waking up in a cold sweat, it always takes a few miserable minutes to make my mind accept that it was not real. For a moment, I am right back there in the despair of my addiction. I hate using dreams.
On vacation this last week, I had a couple encounters which reminded me of my worst addictive behavior. For a few minutes, I could see, feel and experience the misery of being enslaved to pills again. I remembered reading this passage from Romans 13, from my pit of despair. I desperately wanted to awaken from my stupor to find that my life was just a bad dream. The nightmare of my life was very real though. In my addiction, I pursued my own appetites and desires until all that was left was my wretched pills.
I wanted to wake up from my painful reality, but I was unwilling to do what it took to do so. I knew the pain that would come with confessing, going to treatment and changing. The light, honestly, was excruciating. So, I remained in the perverse comfort of my bed of lies. In my diseased thinking, it was easier to continue hiding under the blanket of my destruction than to wake up and live.
Looking back of course, I can see how living in the shadows clouded my thinking. I can now see how wrong I was and how badly I needed to do whatever it took to awaken from my slumber to embrace life, light, faith and God. It took painful consequences to wake me up, but standing on the mountain top yesterday, watching the sun come up, I realized how desperately thankful I was that God allowed me to suffer consequences. Standing in the glowing warmth of the rising sun, I reflected on how spectacular it is to be awake, alive and living in the light.
Paul, in today’s passage, said that in the pursuit of the desires of our own nature we are lulled into a sin-coma. In our stupor of self, we choose to wallow in darkness, unable to live as we were intended. We are meant to walk, alive, in the light, knowing, loving and following God. Instead, we are seduced by the instant gratification we find in the blanket of our flesh nature. We settle for knowing God a little. We want salvation only so we may feel confident in life after death, not realizing that we were created to know life now.
Paul insisted that this is not how I was meant to live. I am to wake up, casting off slavery, sleep and slumber. I am to do whatever it takes to rise up and walk in the light. I must wake up and live.
This awakening may well be painful. It is often much easier, in our thinking, to remain in bed. It is in our slumber though, that we continue down the road of misery, death and distance from God. If we want life and if we want God, it is our responsibility to do whatever it takes to rise up and walk in the light. God will always respond, shining his light, filling us with life.
I do not do it perfectly, but I love being awake and alive. Though it previously pained my eyes, I now embrace the warmth and joy of walking in the light.