After this week’s message at church, two pivotal moments from early in my recovery came to mind. The topic for this weekend’s message was all about living victoriously through the power of the Holy Spirit. Several great points were brought up, but the one I’d like to focus on today is this one:
“Because the Holy Spirit is God, a person and available then the way we interact should be relational and not mechanical.” One of benefits of understanding and responding to the Holy Spirit in this way is that we then know “the power of seeing sin as grieving a Person, not merely breaking a rule.” (Romans 8:7)
Our pastor used a few practical examples to illustrate his point. When we love or care about someone, then we don’t want to bring grief or pain into their lives. For instance, if we discover that a person in our child’s class has a peanut allergy, then we recognize the harm of sending peanuts to school and we avoid doing so out of respect and concern for the child who is allergic.
This idea of grieving the Holy Spirit took me back to when I was recently divorced and coming to terms with an addiction to alcohol. I remember thinking that if I ever were to get married again and if I ever did have a family, I didn’t want to bring this “junk” with me into those relationships. I didn’t want my future to possibly include putting my child in a car and making the poor decision of getting behind the wheel and driving drunk. (I had already been known to put my dogs–my four-legged children–in the car.) What made me think I wouldn’t make the same poor choice once I had children of my own? I also didn’t want my future to possibly include sneaking drinks so the people around me had no idea how much I had actually consumed. I didn’t want my future to be formed on a foundation of lies and deception. I didn’t want to bring that kind of additional pain into a relationship. Relationships are hard enough without piling on the mess of addiction.
During this season of my life, I had also seen how addiction could destroy a family. My sister-in-law had lost her two sons and her husband because pain pills and booze controlled her life. I saw the devastating and painful consequences of addiction and did not want that for my future family.
Simply put, I didn’t want to grieve them.
The other moment that came to mind after thinking more on the topic was when I was in the early days of sobriety and the temptation of picking up a drink again would sometimes cross my mind. However, on the heels of that thought was always this thought:
Lord, if I picked up a drink, it would be like me slapping You in the face. It would be like me saying: Hey, thanks so much for redeeming my life from the pit, God, but I’ll take it from here.
Lord, after all You’ve done for me, how could I do that to You?
Temptation was strong, but gratitude was stronger. I was grateful (and still am) for a God who showed me just how powerful He truly is. I was (and still am) so grateful for the second chance and for how the Lord was able to take my mustard seed of willingness and completely transform my life.
A list of rules didn’t motivate me to choose sobriety rather it was a relationship with the person of the Holy Spirit.
When we stand in reverence and awe of our Redeemer, our hearts will never be the same.