For freedom Christ has set us free; stand firm therefore, and do not submit again to a yoke of slavery. Galatians 5:1

The devil came around the other day. This happens occasionally. On this particular day he came in the bottle of pain pills that a patient plopped down in front of me – These aren’t working. What should I do with them? There was a time when I would have offered to dispose of those pills. To be honest, those old thoughts popped unbidden into my head. That would feel so good. No one would know. Fortunately though, I work on my recovery daily and so, I could quickly play the tape forward, remembering where a relapse would take me. I don’t ever want to return to the misery and slavery of addiction. I love the freedom that I’ve found in my faith and recovery and so, I asked the patient to put those pills away and instructed him on how to properly dispose of them.

Back when I was enslaved to my addiction, I went to God, begging for freedom from my pills. They were ruining my life and I desperately wanted to be free. So, I prayed – God, take this away. I asked him to miraculously remove my appetite for the drugs. I sat in the prison of my pills, begging God to magically transport me out of that prison. I prayed, even while putting the pills in my mouth. What I finally realized is that God doesn’t force me out of my prison. Rather, he opens the door, and asks that I follow him out. Following God meant that I had to do whatever it took to be free. For me, this meant treatment and radical, permanent life changes. For a long time, I wanted freedom with no sacrifice, but that was a fantasy, and while I clung to that fantasy, I remained in the prison of my addiction.

Addiction means we don’t have a choice anymore. We simply can’t stop doing what we do. Freedom means choice. In coming to Christ, we find a choice. We can now follow him, or we can follow ourselves. This freedom certainly does means that we can remain in the prison of the old life. Or, if we truly desire the new life, we can daily do whatever it takes to leave it behind. This will be hard work. Freedom doesn’t mean easy. The cost of freedom is the old life, which doesn’t go quietly. The old life is a cancer that’s metastasized through all of us and cutting it out is often painful. In following Christ though, we find that we’re not alone, as he walks with us, ushering us into the joy and peace of the new life. Freedom is a choice, and if we want it, we must daily do whatever it takes to abandon the old life to follow Christ into the new one.

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