I know your works. You have the reputation of being alive, but you are dead. Revelation 3:1
In my addiction, I lived two existences. There was my life on the outside that everyone saw. I was a husband, father, and an Emergency Room physician. This was the facade that I wanted the world to know. Then, there was the secret life of my addiction. This was a dark, toxic world that I hid from everyone while living in constant fear of discovery. As my addiction consumed more of my life, the drugs which I wanted at first became the monster that controlled me. I abandoned my faith, my family, and my career, which ate me up inside. I hated what I was doing, and I hated who I was. By the end, I wasn’t living. I was a zombie, just stumbling through life waiting until the inevitable end. I was dead inside but no one could see it. This was my terrible secret life.
The sick thing is, I didn’t have to live that way. There was a way out. Yes, I was a slave to my addiction, but I still had the power to confess, get help, and to do something about my condition. In fact, I was the only one in the world who had the power to make those choices. I’d love to say that I chose to do the right thing on my own. Unfortunately, God had to use profoundly painful consequences to wake me up. In that pain though, I did confess, go to treatment, and change my life. Thankfully, God resurrected me, bringing me mercifully back to life. Now, in recovery, it’s still a daily challenge to look into myself, asking what dark secrets I am harboring today. What resentment, pride, hate, lust, anger, or sin am I hiding? Am I going to indulge in that thing, growing it until it consumes me? Or, am I going to drag it into the light, killing it. Daily, I must be killing my sin or daily, it will be killing me.
This was Christ’s message to the church in Sardis and it is his message to us. He knows us. He knows that we claim to follow him but he sees all of us. What do our thoughts and behaviors say about us? God sees all, even the darkest recesses of our minds. Are we living for his will, loving and serving him above all else? Or are we dead inside? A life of following self may not lead to drug addiction, but it leads to spiritual death all the same. True life is found only in daily abandoning ourselves while pursuing a relationship with God above all else.