My Conch Allergy

My Conch Allergy

If anyone worships the beast and its image and receives a mark on his forehead or on his hand, he also will drink the wine of God’s wrath, poured full strength into the cup of his anger . . .  Revelation 14:9-10

Years ago, I discovered I was allergic to conch – that spiral ocean snail that makes those beautiful seashells. It’s edible – at least for some – and it’s quite delicious. The first couple of times I threw up after eating it, I thought I’d just experienced food poisoning. So, I had to try it one last time . . . on my honeymoon. As I was in the bathroom vomiting, my new wife had to be wondering how dumb I could be. He’s knowingly ate that which is poisonous to him. Why would he put that in his body again? But to me, it made sense. I liked conch and I wanted to eat it. As my wife sometimes says – It’s surprising I made it through medical school.

Unfortunately, conch wasn’t the dumbest thing I’ve ever ingested. In my addiction, I took poisonous pills for years. This brought me depression, shame, misery, and eventually destroyed my life. Yet I pursued those pills, putting them in my body. Because I enjoyed the instant gratification, I repeatedly used them, becoming addicted, willingly inviting disaster into my life.

In recovery now, I must see drugs and alcohol for what they are to me – poison. I know people who can drink, but I’m not one of them. For me to drink or to take pills is to willingly ingest poison, destroying myself and those around me. It doesn’t matter how good it would feel – I know it would still bring instant gratification. I’m allergic and to indulge would be to drink judgment on myself.

This is similar to the message of today’s passage. In it, John said that those who follow the beast described in Revelation will drink the cup of God’s wrath. They may not realize it at the time, but in following the beast, they will invite judgment and destruction into their lives.

There’s a painful lesson here. What destruction do we willingly invite into our lives? What things do we do that distract us from our faith? It doesn’t have to be something obvious like a drug addiction. For some of us it’s simply greed, lust, pride, status, toys, or career. Whatever we pursue instead of God becomes our god. In pursuing it above God, we invite destruction into our lives as we drink judgment on ourselves.

Am I following God as I should be? If not, why not? Whatever it is that distracts me from my faith is poison and it must be abandoned, or else I’m inviting judgment and disaster into my life.

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