“Just one more drink.” “One more won’t hurt.” One more will take the edge off.” “One more visit to the bar.” “One more shot.” “Give me one more.” We all have a “one more” story. Either we are the ones saying one more or we know someone who keeps repeating the “one more” line. It is always “one more.” And yet, “one more” is never enough.
Addiction is more than a drinking problem. Addiction comes in many shapes and sizes. It is done for the sake of feeling good, looking good, or tasting good. It shows up alone behind a computer screen, in front of crowds at a party, or with so-called friends in a dark room. Addiction leaves us feeling high, low, alone, or crowded. Or it leaves us feeling nothing at all which is what most addicts are going for. Addiction offers us the escape from being human. It destroys our deepest passions. For the addict, life becomes narrowed down to the “one more” convinced that the “one more” is saving his or her life even while it destroys it. Every addiction kills; some do it more discreetly than others.
As humans we have gotten good at playing the “got-it-all-together” game. It is a game we have mastered with some efficiency. As long as someone keeps taking away our bottom we can keep playing the game. As long as we keep the excuses for the hurts coming, the habits fed, and the hang-ups downplayed, we can stay in the game.
You know that addiction is an issue when it begins to define you. If your life is lived for the next drink or drug, then addiction is what you are dealing. If your life is only about how to get high, stop the pain, or numb the feelings, then you are an addict. If drugs, alcohol, sex, work, or Instagram “likes” label you, then you could be an addict. If you blame others for your habits, hurts, and hang-ups, then you could be an addict. If you know someone who is always giving excuses or finding crutches to lean on, then you could be dealing with an addict. The addiction becomes a crutch. It keeps them from walking on their own. As long as the addict has a crutch, healing will not happen. At some point the crutches are going to have to be dropped.
It isn’t until we face plant on the icy bottom that the cracks begin to show up, the bruises hurt, and the ugliness is reflected. The “got-it-all-together” game is lost and we crawl away as losers. When addiction is the hand we are playing with, there are never winners.
Before King Solomon dies, Jeroboam, son of a servant of the king, starts a revolt that will divide the kingdom of Israel. After Solomon’s death, his son Rehoboam tries to return unity to the kingdom but when he ignores wise counsel the northern tribes secede from the kingdom and make Jeroboam king. Rehoboam is left with the tribe of Judah. In his fifth year, Judah is invaded by the king of Egypt. He comes in and takes all that is valuable from the house of the Lord and the house of the king. It appears that Judah becomes a vassal of the king of Egypt. The king of Judah is forced to pay a tribute to keep the armies of Egypt from attacking and destroying the people. Rehoboam becomes the last king of the united Israel and the first king of Judah after the kingdom is torn apart. The people of the land turn to idols and do wicked things under his leadership. He has lost all control and eventually is buried with his ancestors in the city of David. (See I Kings 14: 21 – 31)
Rehoboam’s life becomes an image of someone who is controlled by addiction. He refuses to listen to wise counsel. It is impossible to argue sanely with an addict. His heart is divided which causes his home to be divided. The addiction becomes king. It comes in and takes what it wants leaving nothing but brokenness and tears in its path. Eventually the only thing that can be said about the addict is that he slept with his ancestors.
Addiction does not have to be your legacy. There is a way out. It starts with honesty. Addiction will destroy your life. It will continue to take and take until you are left with nothing but shame and guilt. For a lot of us, our story is “it started out pretty good and then it got bad. But then I made a change and it got better. And then it got worse.” Why? We acknowledge we have a problem, we work hard to clean-up our lives, but we strive to do it all on our own. Jesus tells a story in the gospel of Matthew about an unclean spirit that decides to return to the house from whence it came. He finds it empty, swept, and put in order. The unclean spirit is thinking, “This is a great place for me to invite some friends over to hang out.” Jesus says, “The last state of that person is worse than the first” (Matt. 12: 45). Why? Hiding things in closets don’t last. The closet cannot hide all our secrets. Eventually, the pressure is more than the door can stand. It takes more than cleaning up. It requires turning over the keys of the house to Jesus.
Overcoming addiction happens when you get out of bed every morning and ask God for the strength to resist for that day. If you try to win back your neglected years, you will lose your days. Freedom from addiction is found in taking the next right step. What is the next right step for you? What one thing do you need to do today that is a step toward victorious living? It could be simply acknowledging you have a problem. It could be reaching out for help. It could be saying a pray that begins, “Thank you Lord for another day to make the next right step.” What is that step for you?
Faith is the most captivating power on earth. By it mountains move, waters divide, and the dead are raised. Faith is the only stimulant that can produce love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, and self-control (Gal. 5:22-23). If it must be dependency, let it be a faith dependent on Jesus. Quit playing the “got-it-all-together” game, put down the hand you’re playing and start trusting and confessing. The bible says, “If we confess our sins, He is faithful and just to forgive us our sins and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness” (I John 1:9). What do you need to confess today? What do you need to come clean about today? What do you need to acknowledge? To confess means to “agree” with God. I agree that I am an alcoholic, drug addict, or workaholic. Be specific as you silently confess your sin to God. Addiction derails us from God’s pathway to peace and joy. Confession puts us back on track. Trust God to deal with your hurts, hang-ups, or habits.
The church is full of addicts. We are all recovering from sin and none of us has it all together. We are a community that is learning by faith to trust in God and daring to trust one another. We are people on a road called redemption. We are wounded people listening to a wounded pastor, living in the light of God’s amazing grace.
What is the next right step for you? Take it. Don’t look for a shortcut. Keep fighting. Stay with the struggle. Run the race. Crawl if you need to. But trust God. Hope in Christ. Never give up. As long as God is in control, resurrection is always a possibility. If today you find yourself saying, “Just one more,” let the one more be reaching for the hand of God.