I Cannot Live Without It
But put on the Lord Jesus Christ, and make no provision for the flesh, to gratify its desires. Romans 13:14
A couple years ago, we realized that the screened-in porch on our house was beginning to lean to one side. Further investigation revealed that a couple of the supporting posts were decaying. Clearly, those rotten, collapsing posts needed to be cut out. It would have been absurd however, to only remove the crumbling posts. Though they needed to go, simply cutting them out would have just exacerbated the problem. To actually fix the tilt, the old supports needed to be removed and new, non-decaying ones needed to be placed.
This illustrates an important concept in addiction and recovery. When I was facing a future of living without drugs, honestly, I was terrified. The drugs had consumed so much of my life and meant so much to my existence, that I didn’t understand how I was going to live without them. For me to truly recover from my drug addiction, it wasn’t enough to just stop using. That left a huge hole in my life that needed to be filled. Early on in recovery, I began turning the energy I’d previously invested in my addiction, into my relationship with God. I don’t do it perfectly now, but every day, I make a genuine effort to find my joy, purpose, and meaning in my faith, pointing my life at God, instead of at my own appetite.
Cross addiction is what happens when the addict stops using drugs or alcohol but fails to replace that vacuum with something meaningful. Empty, he usually finds some other self-destructive, appetite to fill himself. Gambling, smoking, eating, rage, or lust can consume the addict just as much as his previous drug use. To truly find recovery, the addict must replace the old and the sick with the new and the healthy.
In today’s passage, Paul spoke to this phenomenon. He said that to live as we were made to live, we must indeed abandon our self-destructive, fleshly desires. Simply trying to live moral lives however, is pointless and probably futile. To live as disciples of Christ, we must abandon our old ways and pursue him. We must stop filling our bellies with the fleeting, empty pleasure of immediate gratification and we must find our joy in our relationship with the one who made us. He is the only adequate solution to what we’ve been looking for all along. He is the one thing we cannot live without.