The Only-in-Crisis Faith

The Only-in-Crisis Faith

But when Pharaoh saw that there was a respite, he hardened his heart and would not listen to them, as the LORD had said. Exodus 8:15

Over the 15 years of my opioid addiction, I experienced three discrete episodes when my drug use came to light and I was confronted by those around me. Each time, I went into crisis-mode, becoming desperate for change. The first two times, I promised my wife that I’d never use again and I meant it – or at least I thought I did. She was understandably upset and my addiction damaged, but didn’t destroy our relationship. There were potential professional consequences as well, but everything eventually just blew over those first two times, and life soon went back to normal. As life went back to normal, I realized that I’d retained this belief that I could enjoy drugs occasionally. What my wife doesn’t know won’t hurt her. God will forgive me. No consequences. When in crisis, I truly intended for things to be different, but when the crisis passed, I returned to the old life because I hadn’t really changed. I’d only promised change so I could get out of trouble.

Pharaoh did the same in today’s passage. In the story, Moses demanded freedom for his people, but Pharaoh refused, causing God to release the second plague – an infestation of frogs. In crisis-mode, Pharaoh begged Moses for relief, promising to release the Israelites if God removed the frogs. Moses complied and God relented. Once the frog crisis had passed though, Pharaoh refused to keep his promise. Maybe he truly intended to release the Israelites while in crisis, but once life went back to normal, so did his behavior.

The third time my addiction came to light, the consequences didn’t blow over. In fact, some of them were permanent. I lost a job – forever. I’d had my chances. I’d been warned. The first two episodes were opportunities that I squandered. So, things had to keep getting worse. Finally, that third time, as my life came apart, I became willing to do whatever it took to change. I didn’t – and still don’t – promise my wife that I’ll never use drugs again. She’s heard the empty promises. I simply get up early every day and point my life at God. I’m far from perfect but seeking God’s will instead of my own has kept me sober for nearly 10 years. Life hasn’t gone back to “normal”. It simply couldn’t – not if I wanted to remain in recovery. If I went back to the normal old life, I’d return to drugs because my normal old life was pointed at me. Authentic transformation has meant seeking God, not just in the crisis, but even when the crisis has passed.

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