Just One Drink
He . . . took the yoke of oxen and sacrificed them and boiled their flesh with the yokes of the oxen . . . Then he arose and went after Elijah and assisted him. 1 Kings 19:21
Though my struggle with self-control may always have some influence on me, I don’t believe that I must live enslaved to my appetite. As I have followed God, He has changed my desires so that I no longer crave the pills I once couldn’t live without. I must remember however, how I got here: by daily abandoning the old life and pursuing the new one.
The danger for addicts, is that in the new life, we are tempted to think we can occasionally indulge in the old life. I’m fine now. I can have one drink with dinner. What could go wrong? There are many who can have just one drink, but the addict will find that one or two eventually leads back to misery.
Authentic transformation is difficult, because it often requires radical abandonment of the old life. In today’s passage, when Elijah called his protégé, Elisha, to follow him, Elisha modeled revolutionary change. Though he was plowing with his oxen when Elijah called him, Elisha stopped, said goodbye to his family, and sacrificed his animals to God on a fire fueled by their yokes.
Elisha left the old life with such violence and finality that there was no going back. He literally burned the bridges leading back to the old life as he followed the new one.
We would do well to learn from Elisha. Often, we maintain the option of going back. Just one drink. This is why we struggle. We want transformation, but we lack the conviction to truly leave the old to embrace the new. As long as we try to leave one foot in the old life though, we will continue to fail.
If, however, we will daily deny ourselves to follow Christ with reckless abandon, He will fill us with Himself, transforming our appetites. As we come to know the joy and peace of the new life, we will lose our taste for the old one.