How Do I Stop Wanting Things that Are Bad for Me?
So Jesus said to Peter, “Put your sword into its sheath; shall I not drink the cup that the Father has given me?” John 18:11
How God changes me has been a source of significant confusion and frustration. I’ve known those who’ve asked God to take away their addiction and, POOF, it was gone. That’s certainly not been my experience. In active addiction, I prayed repeatedly for God to just take my hunger away – and nothing changed.
Most of us know this frustration. We struggle, and we ask that God remove the struggle, but we receive no miracle. Is our faith lacking? Are we not using the right magical words?
How did I find recovery? Where I once simply couldn’t stop using, I now no longer wrestle with addiction daily. How did I get here? I still know that drugs would feel good, and I occasionally do experience some hunger, but the truth is, today, I want my recovery, my family, and my relationship with God more than I want drugs. How did I get to this point?
Today’s passage provides some insight into how God changes our appetites. In the story, Judas betrayed Christ, leading his enemies to him. When they tried to arrest Jesus, Peter drew his sword, cutting off the ear of one of Jesus’ assailants. Jesus chastised Peter, insisting he’d rather die in obedience to the father’s will, than to live in disobedience.
Don’t make the mistake of thinking that Christ’s obedience was automatic. Jesus didn’t want to die. In the gospel of Luke, we’re told that Jesus desperately desired to avoid the cross and wrestled with his own will to the point where his sweat was like drops of blood. In the end though, Jesus abandoned his way in surrender to the father. Jesus had already made up his mind when the crisis came.
Peter wasn’t there yet though. He still wanted things to be done Peter’s way. This is where a lot of us remain. In theory, we want to follow Christ, but in the moment, we follow ourselves, often to our own misery. Some may get the miraculous, instant change, but for most of us, we must be transformed through our obedience. We must learn to obey Jesus’ command to daily abandon ourselves and follow him (Luke 9:23). It’s only in developing this discipline of obedience – even when we don’t feel like it – that God changes our desires so that we want his way, more than our own. In our obedience, we find a life, joy, and peace that we could never find in following ourselves.