Some Bridges Must Burn
They were watching the gates day and night in order to kill him . . . Acts 9:24
I don’t blame my previous job for my drug addiction and subsequent disaster. I do, however, need to be cognizant of the triggers that led me to using and that contributed to each relapse. Looking back, I can see that working too many nights led to sleep disruption and loss of self-control. Access to the drugs I abused was also a problem at that job. Now, if I want to stay in recovery, I must accept that that I shouldn’t put my sobriety at risk by returning to such an environment. My recovery is more important than my occupation. That specific bridge is burned to me.
As much as we may not like to admit it, friends and environment have a tremendous impact on our thoughts, attitudes, and behaviors. I’ve seen many addicts find faith and sobriety in jail or treatment, only to relapse after returning to the same environment that led to their use in the first place. If nothing changes, nothing changes. Some bridges must burn if the addict truly desires transformation.
Today’s passage tells of how severely Saul (who became Paul) broke from his past. Once, he arrested and imprisoned those who followed Christ, but in just a few days, Jesus turned his life around. Saul became the one leading others to Christ and his former comrades hated him for it. Those with whom he worked just a few days earlier, now wanted him dead. As difficult as this made Saul’s life, it was necessary. It would’ve been impossible for Saul to remain friends with those who hated Christ while he spread the gospel. It was one or the other. In choosing Christ, Saul unavoidably burned bridges and made enemies of his former friends.
This is the dreadful choice many of us face. We don’t simply struggle in a vacuum. There are people and things around us that contribute to our struggles. If we truly desire transformation, often, we must choose to violently cut those people and things from our lives. If we struggle with alcohol, then we must avoid drinking friends. If we struggle with pornography, then we need to eliminate our access to it. And if your right hand causes you to sin, cut it off and throw it away (Matthew 5:30). If we truly desire transformation, some bridges must be burned.