Delusions of Grandeur
And immediately he proclaimed Jesus in the synagogues, saying, “He is the Son of God.” And all who heard him were amazed . . . Acts 9:20-21
In both treatment and jail, I’ve many times heard grandiose delusions from the newly sober. Never mind that that they’ve relapsed too many times to count, they’re in recovery now and they’re going to change the world. I’ve heard of plans to begin a new nationwide nonprofit that is going to help disadvantaged children. I’ve heard of schemes to build an empire of sober housing units. I’ve even been asked to invest. What these guys need to do is focus on recovery but dreaming big is a pleasant distraction from the disaster of here and now.
I did this too. In treatment, I met an atheist and imagined that God put me in treatment to lead him to faith. God put me in treatment simply to get sober though. That’s why I was there and that’s what I needed to work on. To distract myself from the disaster, I imagined I’d get out and become an addiction physician, helping others find recovery. Again, I simply needed to work on getting and staying clean, but the grandiose delusions were a pleasant distraction.
In treatment, I read my Bible felt that passages such as todays provided a model for my grandiosity. In the story, Saul went from persecuting Christians to leading others to Christ in just a few short days. He met Jesus, repented, and was off and running, doing great things for God. I can do that.
It’s true, that once I repent, I don’t have to wait years or go to seminary to be used by God. I can immediately be of service to others. What I got wrong in treatment, was that I desperately needed to work on the repentance part. I didn’t need to become perfect to serve God, but I did have to figure out how to stop using drugs. Paul wouldn’t have been a very effective witness for Christ if he’d regularly relapsed into persecuting Christians. I couldn’t do great things for God as long as I continued in my addiction.
This is where a lot of us find ourselves. We imagine that one day, we’ll love our neighbors and serve God. That thought is a pleasant distraction from here and now. What we must do today, is whatever it takes to abandon our self-destruction. We must truly repent and turn our lives around so that we may follow God, finding the life he desires for us.