This morning during my quiet time I took some time to count my blessings.
Thanksgiving Day 2001- I took my last drink of alcohol on that day. Thinking back, I had no clue that day, fifteen years ago, would be my last day. I had been battling the addiction of using alcohol to escape and numb for a long time. And, over time, it became my master. It dictated my every thought and my every move. I had tried, on several occasions, to stop drinking, to cut back, to drink like a “normal” person, but each attempt always ended the same way, drinking again in excess.
I could relate to Paul’s tormenting words in Romans 7:21 “When I want to do good, evil is right there with me.”
It was a vicious, unending cycle. It was a prison sentence I just couldn’t seem to ever get released from. It tormented me from the moment I opened my eyes in the morning until the moment I took my next drink.
However, the one thing that had changed in my life was this desire to run back to the Lord each and every time I failed. I had acknowledged to the Lord earlier that same year that I had no desire to stop drinking. During one of my conversations (an argument, actually) with the Lord I told Him this: “Lord, you know I don’t want to stop drinking. Please change my heart. Make my desire not to drink, make my desire for You stronger than my desire to drink.” Over the course of the next several months, this became my mantra. Each time the drink won I fell to my knees and lifted these words up to Him again. And again. And again. “Lord, change my heart. Make my desire not to drink stronger than my desire to drink.”
I was the persistent widow (Luke 18) who had finally decided to not take no for an answer. And when I woke up that particular Friday morning after Thanksgiving, something was different. I was exhausted. I was too weak to climb back onto the hamster wheel of insanity I had been stuck on for years. I remember saying, “Lord, I give up. I am so tired.” And an amazing thing happened. It was like the Lord responded, “Eileen, those were the words I’ve been waiting to hear.”
And, at that moment, I experienced the most incredible peace I have ever had. That morning was different from all the other mornings. I had a strength inside of me and calm inside of me that I had never known. It was like the Lord had reached down into the pit I had been trapped in for years and grabbed hold of my hand. This time I wasn’t going to let go. For the first time in the process, I was depending on His strength and not my own. He was fighting the battle for me. The months to come were by no means easy, but I had a BIG GOD fighting on my behalf.
Early in recovery, I remember shaking my head at the Lord in disbelief. Of all the “boring” times during the year I could have been getting sober, Lord, and you choose during Christmas and New Years. I thought about that this morning and was grateful all over again for God’s timing.
You were showing off, Lord. You showed me in those months just HOW BIG YOU ARE. Temptation was all around, but Your grace and Your redemption won.
The story of Lazarus came to mind as I was thinking of God’s perfect timing.
“Now Jesus loved Martha, her sister, and Lazarus. “So when He heard that he was sick, He stayed two more days in the place where He was.” John 11
He intentionally delayed Lazarus’s healing. He waited until all hope seemed lost before he came to Lazarus. Why? Because we serve a God who wants us to know, without any doubt, who deserves all the glory and all the honor and all the praise.
We just don’t know when or how God will choose to raise a life up from the dead.