by David H.
Sin has ruled my life. Early in my Christian walk I made deliberate choices to sin and go against God. Sin became a habit and a way of life. Some people call this an addiction, which it was, but more importantly, it is the result of repeated choices to go against God and willfully sin. An addiction is not something that just happens; it is a deliberate choice. Somewhere along the way I lost the ability to say no, or so it seemed. I felt that the sin(s) I committed would remain a secret and didn’t affect any one but myself. I was a hundred miles from right.
I see now how deeply my sin affected my wife, children, my job performance, and my relationships with people. I was mean and uncaring. Most of all, my sin affected the way I thought and how I viewed my circumstances. I was constantly mad and felt everyone was out to get me. I never took ownership for my actions and never thought I was responsible for the circumstances I was in. My heart became hardened towards God. Psalm 95:8 says, “Today if you hear His voice do not harden your hearts …” It was not intended nor did I mean it or want it, but after years of sin my heart became hard towards God. It was the unintended result of my sin. When we sin we really have no power over what or where that sin will take us. In short, I was just a mess. My wife hated me, my children feared me, and I was ineffective on my job. But the greatest effect sin had on me was how it affected the way I thought and how I continuously blamed others for my circumstances. I always thought people were “out to get me.” This came to a head two years ago, when my wife asked me to leave the house. It wasn’t fair.
I cursed God long and hard when that happened. I deserved to be struck dead on the spot. Although I agreed I was the problem, I didn’t totally buy into it or believe it. I wanted to get back home in the worst way and would do anything to do so, including acting like I was truly sorry for my sins and wanting to change. I knew at a certain level it was deeper than that, but I still wanted to get back home. I wanted what I wanted in spite of anything or anyone else.
I did two things that were very important in my recovery and helped to set the pace for later seeing how deeply my sin impacted others.
1. Number one, I quit my compulsive sin through the help of many others and decided to be honest about what I was doing. [“Confess your trespasses to one another, and pray for one another, that you may be healed. The effective, fervent prayer of a righteous man avails much” – James 5:16.] This went against everything I had ever done. I felt ashamed hearing myself admit (confess) the things I had done to others and further ashamed to hear and see their reactions. It was humbling but necessary. Some of these confessions felt extremely painful, but each time they were beneficial.
One of these confessions was to a very dear friend in my fellowship who has helped me tremendously. During one phone conversation he became very agitated with me. I had exposed some of the way I viewed work, coworkers and how unfair certain situations were. I was also resentful at my father and blamed him that I was ill-prepared for work after college. I was just resentful at everything and again viewed each circumstance, as everyone was out to get me, and how unfair it was. As a result, my friend was extremely angry and yelled (and the words will never leave me): “YOU’RE NOTHING BUT A BABY. IT WOULD BE BEST FOR YOUR FAMILY IF YOU WENT FAR, FAR AWAY AND NEVER CAME BACK.” The words stung but when I hung up the phone I made a decision that would become important. I decided I would buy into what was being said. After all, what I was doing wasn’t working.
Even though I had quit my compulsive sin, it took a while for my head to clear and for me to begin seeing myself as others saw me and as God truly knew me. It says in a book called Addiction and Grace by Gerald May, that “when we try and break an addiction, we discover it has become a way of life.” It also states that over a prolonged addiction the way your brain functions actually changes. When you choose a sin over and over again your brain goes through a physical change. Certain areas go to sleep from disuse and certain areas become frayed from overuse. Unused areas turn gray from disuse. Other areas become hypersensitive from overuse. This is a very brief explanation, but the author basically says addicts don’t think right. When stressed, scared or angry, thought processes are not normal. It was stunning to realize even my thinking was suspect, and I could not trust it. To apply the words of Isaiah, addictions are like “greedy dogs, never satisfied,” or as Habakkuk said, “Forever on the move, with an appetite as large as Sheol, and as insatiable as death” [Isaiah 56:11; Habakkuk 2:5]. Sin changed the very way I thought. I bought into Satan’s lies, and he had a field day molding me to be selfish and mean, doing what, wanted when wanted in spite of anything and anyone else. I was Satan’s tool. He was living his selfish life out through me.
But one day it began to hit. I saw how I had harmed my wife mentally, emotionally and spiritually. I was critical of everything and everyone at home. My children grew up constantly being afraid of how I would react to something. They never had a chance to live a normal life. I was mortified. I was the one; I was the perpetrator. I had wreaked havoc in my family. The very ones I was supposed to protect and defend, I had helped to destroy. Satan did not just use me; I was his willing accomplice. I began to see how I sabotaged myself in every job I held. I thought people were out to get me and acted accordingly. In fact I was the one who acted with anger and spite towards my fellow co-workers. They never stood a chance with me. I always thought my bosses were idiots. After being fired several times by bosses I despised, I saw that I was the problem, not them. This is a long way around to getting to say I saw my sin and its devastation to others. That was the first part. I wanted to crawl on the floor and eat the carpet. I felt like carving a hole in my stomach with a dull spoon. Part one completed.
Once I saw that I thought it was HIS time to come home. I still wanted what I wanted in spite of anything or anyone else. I never stopped to think that it wasn’t my decision to begin with. In short I felt the devastation of my sin and then thought, “O.K. now I deserve to be home.” I deserved something much worse. Never did I consider where I was. Where was I? I was alone living in an apartment away from my family–as are many others in America. I wasn’t special. I was grateful God didn’t give me what I deserved. But just the same I never stopped wanting to get home. My goal was to get home, not get to the bottom of what God was trying to get at. I’ll cut to the chase. I didn’t get what I wanted. I wasn’t asked home when I thought that I should have been. Carol didn’t want me home unless I was believing right. What did that mean? I wasn’t willing to let God be in control. I wasn’t willing to say that I am content to let Him be in control of each situation and circumstance and be willing to see God in each circumstance.
2. This conflict came to a head again with my good friend. Although I was clear on my sin and it’s affects on others, I was still pushing for what I wanted. Which was to get home. On one of many conversations my friend conveyed to me some serious problems with his job and his life. I listened with interest but was actually more interested in talking about my needs and myself. Again it was all about what I wanted when I want it in spite of anyone else. After several talks it came through that in spite of his anguish I was still only interested in myself. I was willing to bowl anyone over to get what I wanted. This came to a head around Thanksgiving (how ironic). I was just so tired of being selfish, never thinking of anyone but me. I didn’t want to be Satan’s tool anymore. A section in Norman Grubb’s book, Who Am I? was given to me, which was key to seeing a different way to believe. In chapter 21 Norman says that our sufferings are not the issue but “rather our refusal to bend our stiff necks and inwardly acknowledge that our true suffering is our rebellious, resenting, resisting inner attitude. We refuse to acknowledge Him in our suffering situations, and accept Him in His love, in place of questioning how He can be responsible for what is happening to us.” That was me all over the place. Finally, I decided that in spite of how I felt, I was not going to continue to do what I had always done, what I wanted when I wanted in spite of anyone else. I said, “God if you want me home that’s your problem. That’s it, final.” I made an effort to be interested in someone else for a change. If that meant never seeing my family again, so be it. I wasn’t going to work at getting anything. I WAS SO TIRED OF HURTING PEOPLE; I COULD NOT TAKE ONE MORE STEP TRYING TO GET WHAT I WANTED.
Then you know what happened … nothing. My circumstances didn’t change but I was fine. I was fine!!! I didn’t die. God was still in control. I learned to believe that His circumstances were perfect. I maintained that if God wanted my situation to be different then it would be. That was my story and I was sticking to it. I kept acting and believing as if Christ was living His life through me and it was His wants and desires through me.
The interesting thing is while I was out of the house I had learned to cook by taking some professional cooking classes. I continued cooking and tried something completely different in the history of David; I began to take interest in other people and other things besides what I want when I wanted it. Months later, I was shocked one night when my wife phoned me and asked me over for dinner. The funny part was I had just finished making a meal from one of my cooking classes. I was going to eat some and pass the rest out at work the next day. Instead I offered to bring dinner to my family. In a very small way it was something I could do for my family. Eventually, over time, Carol asked me to stay.
There were many keys that moved me from a person where sin ruled my life to becoming God’s man, the person I am meant to be. The first is knowing, as Norman Grubb puts it, “Not God first, but God only.” The second is that God is in control and my circumstances are perfect. It’s so simple but the hardest thing I have ever had to do. Being away was hard and difficult but I wouldn’t change one thing. It was perfect.
The Intercessor, Vol. 20 no. 2 Zerubbabel Inc. PO Box 1710 Blowing Rock, NC 28605