When I was 25 years old, I made a profound discovery about myself. I knew I came from an addictive family; my granddad, my dad, and most of his siblings were at some point addicted to something. When I was a teenager Christ got hold of my life, and I became acutely aware of the trap of addiction, but I didn’t know that my life was so susceptible.
In 1987, moving from Texas to Oregon, two pastor friends and I drove the U-Haul, taking turns driving and telling stories. As we drove through Northern California, we decided to take a break and go skiing in Tahoe. We stayed at a cheap hotel, with a casino attached, thinking God would allow us to stay there because we were being good stewards of His money. I had never been to a casino, and my friends said it was okay to just play the nickel slots. Somewhere around 2 a.m, they had to drag me away from the one-armed bandit and get me to bed. I had sat there for more than five hours, knowing I’d win big. But the reality is I couldn’t leave and I lost money I didn’t have to lose.
It was a revelation of my true self, which was really in me a devilish dragon that couldn’t be satiated, an inner thrill seduced by the lie of a reward. I had woken a beast that, until my buddies pulled me away and physically kept me from going back, I did not recognize existed in me. That profound discovery forced me to admit many things. Here are three.
- There are latent issues in my life that I am blind to. In the Bible David, the King writes, “Search me, God, and know my heart…See if there is any offensive way in me” (Psalm 139:23, 24 NIV). Only God can see what is in my heart. I ask Him to search me consistently. I never want to be surprised by another dragon.
- I do not have the power to fight the dragon on my own. Yes, the Holy Spirit lives in me, but the Bible is clear, He has placed others in my life to overcome certain vices. “Two can accomplish more than twice as much as one…” (Ecclesiastes 4:9 LB). If I do not have great friends in my life, I will never achieve the victory and life God has for me. It might be an exaggeration, but I could still be sitting in front of a stupid machine if it weren’t for my friends.
- The desire doesn’t just go away. I had the smell of ‘slot machine’ on my hand for days. Whenever my right hand came near my face I got a whiff of the stench that I had been immersed in. I made a decision then to stay away from gambling. The Bible says, “We should remove from our lives anything that would get in the way and the sin that so easily holds us back” (Hebrews 12:1 NCV).
Is there a dragon in your life? Have you exposed it? Have you asked God to show you issues you are blind to? Maybe you’ve been battling that dragon for a long time and even with the best of intentions, fail over and over, falling back into its clutches. Have you given others the right to pull you away and defeat the beast? And lastly, is there something in your home that has the smell of ‘slot machine’ attached to it, something that gets in the way of you living free and should be removed?
Today could be the day when real victory comes. I pray that, instead of being bound by an addictive personality or DNA that you had no control over, you take the steps to walk in the joy of a life free from the dragon. Drop me a note if you need help. I love you and Church on the Ridge is ready to help.