Why Don’t You Stop?
How long will you go limping between two different opinions? If the Lord is God, follow Him . . . 1 Kings 18:21
A couple summers ago, my son and I hiked into the mountains, carrying our tent, food, and clothing on our backs. It was supposed to be all fun, but honestly, the hike in, with 30-pound packs on, was pretty miserable. The next day, we shed our backpacks and went exploring. It felt fantastic to go hiking without that cursed weight.
I remember thinking that the backpack was a good metaphor for my addiction. It was a miserable burden and taking it off was like returning from the dead. As a metaphor though, the backpack was inadequate, as unlike my addiction, the backpack didn’t have tentacles wrapped around everything in my life. Taking the backpack off was easy.
We often take this view of addiction or any struggle that we are not familiar with. Why don’t you just quit? I’ve even heard this from the pulpit. If you’re struggling, just stop it!
Anyone who wrestles with any recurrent self-destructive behavior though, knows this is not helpful. If it were easy, we would have done it by now. Still, I must believe, both from the Bible’s teaching and from my own life experience that we always have a choice. As long as we draw breath, we can follow ourselves, or we can make the tremendously difficult decision to abandon ourselves to follow God.
In today’s passage, the prophet Elijah put this question to the Israelites. How long are you going to waver? If God is God, then follow Him. If not, then just do your own thing.
Make no mistake, Elijah’s question was not just for the Israelites and it is not just for addicts. It is a choice we all must make. We all struggle with defects of our flesh nature that distract us from following God. Whether it is self-pity, gluttony, pornography, greed, pride, selfishness, drugs or simple disobedience, we all have our backpacks.
Why don’t we just stop? Why doesn’t the addict just quit? We don’t quit because we are unwilling to do what it takes to abandon our self-destruction to pursue God. We want to be free, but we don’t want to surrender our will, leave the old life, go to treatment, give up the computer or change our lives.
We always have some choice. If we are willing, we can go to God, asking Him what we must do to abandon our self-destruction so that we may follow Him. Then, we must do it every day.