The Walking Dead
Man shall not live by bread alone, but by every word that comes from the mouth of God. Matthew 4:4
There is a condition in which man can exist that isn’t death, but neither is it life. I know. I’ve been there, and so has anyone who’s lived with addiction. In any addiction, whether it’s food, drugs, alcohol, lust, greed, pride, or the need for affirmation, the addict attempts to find life in something that can deliver only death. Sure, there is some pleasure or immediate gratification in the thing, but after it’s gone, the emptiness and misery set in, leaving behind, not life, but a living death.
I didn’t set out to become one of the walking dead. I thought I could have just an occasional taste, controlling my drug use, using it to my benefit. I need this to sleep. I work hard and I deserve to be able to relax after a long day in the ER. I turned to a pill though, to fill me with what I needed, and in doing so, I surrendered my will to it, becoming enslaved. In my slavery, the more miserable I became, the more I needed that momentary high to make me feel some artificial life. This false life couldn’t last though, and always led deeper into misery.
In today’s passage, Jesus addressed the deception of dependence on the physical appetite to find life. In the story, Jesus, physically hungry from fasting, was tempted by Satan. If you are the Son of God, command these stones to become loaves of bread (Matthew 4:3). Quoting God’s words to Moses (Deuteronomy 8:3), Jesus resisted temptation. I don’t find my life in eating food. I satisfy my need for purpose, meaning and fulfillment in God alone (my paraphrase).
Food may sustain our existence, but the life that Christ spoke of isn’t found in eating and breathing. Doing whatever comes natural to us, leads to existing, but not to truly living. If we desire to know authentic life, joy and peace, then we must learn to find those things in our relationship with God alone.
I thank God every day that he loved me enough to use the painful consequences of my addiction to turn me to him. I don’t live perfectly, but in repenting from my way, I have been awakened from the living death of addiction to find the true life that only God can provide.
*Photo courtesy of Jon Mellema