Breaking the Addiction to…Addiction

John 4:13-15   Jesus answered, “Everyone who drinks this water will be thirsty again, but whoever drinks the water I give will never be thirsty. The water I give will become a spring of water gushing up inside that person, giving eternal life.” The woman said to him, “Sir, give me this water so I will never be thirsty again and will not have to come back here to get more water.”  (NCV)

We sure live in an odd culture with all our trendy cliches. One of the latest fads is branding something good as addictive.  You see it everywhere.  A phone app game.  A brownie recipe.  An exercise routine.  A vape cigarette.  An online dating or auction site.  The sure-fire way to get 21st Century Americans interested in trying something is to make it sound as if, once we start it, we can’t quit and we have no control over our actions.  Sounds enticing, risky, and just fun to take something otherwise seemingly harmless and inject an element of forbidden-ness to it. And so, we not only engage, we begin to pronounce our own curse by our very words.

Quite frankly, I don’t want to partake of even something seemingly benign that imprisons me.  I don’t want something that I would even joke about being “safely” imprisoned by it.  I started to download a recipe a few days ago where the word “crack” was in the name of it, and suddenly declined.  A spirit of admonition rose up within me, and I thought of how the Word pronounces a woe upon people who call evil good and good evil (Isaiah 5:20).  Would it be a sin for me to fix potatoes that had a nickname comparing them to a street drug? Of course not…but it’s the principle of the matter.

I thought of friends of mine who have broken free from addictions through a relationship with Jesus; and others who were already believers but struggling with something that had its hooks in them, who finally surrendered and walked away free.  I thought of loved ones whose names and a date are engraved in bronze on a hillside cemetery, whose graves I visit…taken before their time because of addiction.  Then I thought of other loved ones who are still enslaved by strongholds they can’t seem to break free from; or, in getting free from one addiction, immediately pick up a different habit in its place.  There are even a very few people I know who are unbelievers who’ve wrestled free from the python, but the void still remains…getting filled with intellectualism or other means of pseudo-completion. So, somehow, to partake of something that even in jest or idle words sucks me into a vortex seemed, well, wrong.  Does that make me uber-spiritual, holier-than-thou?  Goodness, no!  But out of respect for those who’ve discovered first-hand how ugly and painful addiction really is, why on earth would I find the idea of becoming addicted actually appealing?  What a terrible price real addicts have paid (or are still paying) for trying something that “seemed like a good idea at the time.” Some paid for it with their lives.

Jesus saw right through the tough facade of the woman at the well.  She had the “look” of someone weathered by hard living.  Oh, quite possibly, she was still a beautiful woman on the outside.  Something about her kept her attractive enough to be in one relationship after another…if nothing else, her vulnerability, usability, desperation.  Whether it was external or internal, Jesus saw right through her actions into the root cause:  a need for something she hadn’t found in the natural.  Relationship with God…the water that quenches all thirst.  She found it at of all places, just minding her own business doing an everyday task. Random?  No, Jesus had her in the crosshairs before she even left her house with the water pot.  The lady who seemed impervious to weakness was now disarmed by a simple request from the Master, who exposed her pain instead of just her sin.  If you think about it, most all sin comes right back down to idolatry: filling the spiritual void within us with something else besides right relationship with our Maker.

So, how about you?  Are you looking for something to fill that “can’t get enough” hole in your heart?  We are all engineered to need that hole filled; but not by drugs or sex or food or some mind-numbing computer game.  We are meant to be filled by the Holy Spirit.  Jesus is only real satisfier of our deep, indescribable longings.  Have you met Him?  Have you really surrendered all to Him, or are you still reserving part of that unfilled space in your soul for temporary things?  Do other gods, little idols, litter your closet floor?  Are you yourself one of those idols? As long as you entertain them, your relationship with Jesus will never be the water that leaves you thirsty no more.  You may even build a weathered, hard-living, Pharisaical callous on your heart that comes from religion without relationship.

I’m ready to “thirst no more.”  I’ve been on the empty side before and frankly, there’s nothing glorious about feeling trapped.  As the song says, “take the whole world and give me Jesus.”  Yep, He’s the One thing I can’t live without and don’t want to.

Father, thank You for making a way for me to walk free from enslavement.  Today I snip the strings off the harmful or just plain unfruitful pursuits in my life.  I empty my pockets of all the weights that hinder me from running.  I say to You, “Take them all.  Purge me, streamline me, make me whole and give me desire for no idol.  I want nothing to take Your place or to even share Your rightful dominion over me.”  I will watch the words of my mouth and stop hanging myself out to dry by bragging about being “addicted” to silly things.  Jesus paid a high price for me to not be addicted.  I choose not to go there anymore.  In His name and for His sake I ask and make this declaration of my faith…Amen.

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