Our compulsions and addictions must fall! Embracing the purification process is the first step toward true freedom in Christ. To begin, you must:
1. Repent of your idolatry. "This is what the Sovereign Lord says: 'Repent! Turn from your idols and renounce all your detestable practices'" (Ezek. 14:6).
2. Seek His forgiveness for your specific acts of idolatry. List them. Ask Him to do "divine angioplasty" on your heart, to surgically remove bitterness, judgments and unforgiveness. What wounds, what negative attitudes are hiding there? Ask Him to reveal the root causes of your struggle so that you may be healed and set free.
3. Be reconciled to those you have "aught" against or who have "aught" against you. Remember, forgiveness is not an option if we want the Lord to forgive us. It is a decision of the will; the feelings will follow.
Perhaps the greatest access Satan has to the church is our unwillingness to forgive those who have offended us. Be reconciled now—to God, to others and to yourself.
4. Accept the fact that you must change certain things in your life. As the saying goes, "If nothing changes, nothing changes."
5. Prioritize your life. Your priorities are out of kilter if they're not God first; your family, second; and work or ministry, third.
6. Take an inventory of the stumbling blocks in your life—those people, things and circumstances that seem to trip you up on a regular basis. How do they interfere with your relationship with God, your family, your work?
7. Make good friends of discipline and obedience. They work together as a matched pair. You'll sabotage your journey to freedom without them.
8. Most importantly, give the Lord the "first fruits" of all you have and all you are. Spend quality time with Him each day in prayer, meditation, reading His Word. Praise Him! Worship Him! Adore Him! He already adores you. Even though you may feel like a miserable failure, in His eyes you are a winner—an overcomer.
He created in each of us a special "God-space," a place in our hearts that is His alone. It's His sanctuary, His throne room. False idols are not allowed!
He reigns sovereign and supreme in His great glory, and He calls us to join Him: "To him who overcomes, I will give the right to sit with Me on My throne, just as I overcame and sat down with My Father on His throne" (Rev. 3:21).
The Hound of Heaven
My life turned around miraculously in 1979. A faithful group of prayer warriors in Billings, Mont., where I lived at the time, put me on their "Ten Most Wanted List." They had heard of my third suicide attempt and my admission to the Montana State Mental Hospital at Warm Springs.
"Lord," they prayed, "send someone across Sandy's path to tell her how much You love her."
A beautiful young woman named Karen appeared at the hospital. She'd lost her fiancé in an automobile accident and was inconsolable. Daily she cried out to Jesus.
She became my "hound of heaven," following me constantly and telling me that Jesus loved me and had a plan for my life—a plan that didn't include destroying myself.
How could He love a pile of garbage like me? I wondered.
Then one night, Karen awakened me from a deep sleep. She had a desperate look in her eyes. "Does Jesus love me, Sandy?" she wailed.
I struggled out of bed and held her in my arms. She was like a sobbing child.
"Yes, Karen," I said. "Jesus loves you." And at that moment, everything changed. It was as though my body had been struck by lightning.
I knew that I had been touched miraculously by God's mighty hand. In those predawn hours, the idols on my throne began to shake at their very foundations. I knew I would never be the same.
A few years later, wanting to send Karen a copy of my book, The Compulsive Woman, I wrote the institution to try to track down her address. I gave them all the identifying information I could think of.
A few weeks later, they sent a reply: There was no record of a patient named Karen fitting that description. Karen, I believe, was an angel sent by God to rescue me—to pull me out of the miry, hellish pit of life-threatening addictions and compulsions and set my feet on the solid Rock of my salvation.
My odyssey back from that pit was not easy. God used a combination of the spiritual and the secular: alcoholism treatments, group therapy, intense counseling, alcohol support group meetings and prayer, prayer, prayer. He lovingly tailor-made just the right recovery program for me. The process took time, hard work, patience and a crucial ingredient: a sense of humor.
And God's not done with me yet. After conquering many addictions and compulsive behaviors with His help, I found myself raising up a new idol after the death of my beloved husband, Len, in 1996.
It seemed as if bedtime was not such a monster if I ate a pint of toffee-crunch ice cream first. After months of this decadent nightly ritual, I wondered why my clothes were shrinking. I was literally swallowing my grief—"eating" my feelings of loneliness and sadness so I wouldn't have to feel them.
But the Lord didn't let me get away with hiding in my compulsion and denial. Once again, He led me to surrender my self-will to Him, and another idol came crashing down.
One by one by one, the idols in my life have been replaced by the only One to whom all praise and worship is due. Today I am a new creation, free in Christ! "Therefore if the Son makes you free, you shall be free indeed" (John 8:36, NKJV). And if Jesus set me free, He will do the same for you.
Sandra LeSourd is a popular conference speaker and lecturer on the topic of chemical dependency and compulsive behavior. She is the author of The Compulsive Woman and The Not-So-Compulsive Woman.
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