Eight Years Sober
For I will be merciful toward their iniquities, and I will remember their sins no more. Hebrews 8:12
My sin – oh the bliss of this glorious thought! My sin, not in part, but the whole, is nailed to the cross, and I bear it no more, praise the lord, praise the lord, oh my soul! It Is Well with My Soul – Horatio Spafford
While using drugs, I meant for every time to be the last time. I couldn’t quit though so, my addictive behavior continually stabbed at my conscience, causing me to live in constant shame and self-hatred. After every indulgence, I’d go to God, say I was sorry and ask forgiveness. I’d promise never to do it again . . . and then promptly do it again. Then I’d repeat the whole cycle of shame, apology, and relapse. Was I really forgiven each time? I certainly found no comfort in it if I was. Deep down I knew I wasn’t going to change, and I knew that being sorry wasn’t the same as repentance. I couldn’t enjoy the peace of absolution while continually returning to the thing that was destroying me physically and spiritually.
I don’t live perfectly now, but I do now enjoy the peace of knowing that I’ve repented and have been forgiven by God. This last week marks eight years since my life fell apart due to my drug use. It’s a painful memory, but it’s also my sober date, which is to be celebrated. In church recently, we sang It is Well with My Soul. It’s a song I’ve known for years, but as we got to that third verse – about my sin being gone because it’s nailed to the cross – I had to look around to make sure no one could see the tears in my eyes. It’s a glorious thing to realize that I’ve repented, that God has forgiven me, and that I’ve found freedom in Christ.
This joy and freedom is meant for all of us. God saves us all from ourselves if we truly want to be saved. First though, we must recognize that we need saving. Then, we must repent, abandoning those things that cause us so much misery. Saying I’m sorry and then doing the thing repeatedly isn’t the same as repentance and asking forgiveness offers no peace while we refuse to kill the behavior. If we want to know the joy of forgiveness, and if we want to be free, then daily, we must go to God, asking what he wants us to do. Then, we must do whatever it takes to separate ourselves from our self-destruction. In doing so, we will find the joy and peace for which we were created.