Wretched man that I am! Who will deliver me from this body of death? Romans 7:24
When I’m really trying to eat healthy – like I am now – I use a calorie counting app on my phone, which can be an effective tool to keep me accountable. Often, I’ll eat a breakfast of one banana and one tablespoon of peanut butter. The other morning though, I lost it and consumed several tablespoons of peanut butter. Regretfully, I went to log my breakfast in the app and discovered that I simply didn’t want to admit the truth.
So, I didn’t. I put in only one tablespoon of peanut butter. Why? Who was I fooling? No one else is looking at my food diary. The only one I was lying to was myself. Somehow, if I didn’t write it down, it was less real, and I could ignore my overindulgence . . . until I stepped on the scale the next morning to see the effects of that 500 extra calories.
I did the same thing in my drug addiction. Deep down, I knew I had a problem, but as long as I could lie to myself, I could continue pretending I didn’t desperately need help. Until, that is, the terrible consequences arrived. I hit rock bottom as I realized I was going to lose everything: family, job, and career. It was only then that I finally went to God and told him that I would do whatever it took to change. That was the beginning of my recovery.
Many of us have been here. We know we need to work on that one thing, but as long as we can lie to ourselves, ignoring it, we don’t really need to do anything. Unfortunately, it often takes horrific consequences – hitting rock bottom – to make us realize how badly we need to seek radical transformation.
I don’t know what consequences Paul suffered, but the words of today’s passage are those of a man crying out in agony. Wretched man that I am! Who will deliver me from this body of death?
Often, we wish for change, but change is hard, so we ignore our problem until we can’t ignore it any longer. God uses pain to make us desperate, for it’s usually only in our desperation that we’re willing to obey. To us, this is maddening, but his is where God wants us, for it is in our obedience that he can truly shape us into who he wants us to be. If we wish to avoid rock bottom, we’d do well to choose obedience before we get there.