Friday, April 26, 2013

Delivered!

God has delivered me from my Coke Light/Diet Pepsi (depending on where I am in the world) addiction! 

I might have lost some of you right there! 

Some of you might not think that Diet Pepsi can be an addiction and therefore I don’t need to be delivered from it.  It may seem strange to you that I would use the word addicted that is usually reserved for more harmful behaviors like smoking, excessive drinking, gambling, etc.

Or, some of you aren’t sure what I mean by “God has delivered me” and you think I’ve prayed to ask God to help me quit drinking it. 

Or you might think God isn’t that interested in something that small, and I’m making too big a deal of it and if I want to quit, just need to quit with good old-fashioned will power!

Others of you read that first line and shouted a good old-fashioned “Hallelujah!”  That would be those of you who have been after me for years to quit drinking Diet Pepsi, or at least quit drinking so much.

25 years in fact. 

That’s how long I’ve been drinking four to seven Diet Pepsi’s a day, every day.  For the last 25 years.  Sometimes more when I’m in the US and happen to eat out for lunch and dinner, that can easily hit 10-12 Diet Pepsi’s with all the free refills offered at a meal. 

The point is, I never not drank it.  From about 9am til the last thing I did before I brushed my teeth every night.  All day long, I drank Diet Pepsi.  I never ran out, I took it to people’s houses with me, I knew where my next Diet Pepsi was coming from, always. 

That’s an addiction friends.

I’ve known that for a long time, and joked a little about it.  Mostly to deflect anyone trying to talk too seriously with me about it.  But an addiction of any kind, even to something as small as soda, is not honoring to God in the life of a Christian. 

Last Saturday morning, before I got out of bed, I was talking with the Lord about a few different things, and I honestly cannot remember the sequence of our conversation, but after about 30 minutes, I thought, “well, I guess you want to deliver me from Diet Pepsi!”  I hadn’t gone to bed the night before with any of this on my mind, I had no intention or desire to quit, other than the vague sort of “I really shouldn’t drink all this soda” sort of thoughts every so often.  I hadn’t felt any particular conviction over it.

But Saturday morning, as I said, I can’t recall how it came about, but I knew that God would deliver me if I were willing to allow him to.  Many years ago, God delivered me from smoking cigarettes overnight as well, but I was pretty immature then and, with figurative hands on my hips, declared, “I’m not doing the will-power thing because I don’t want to quit!  if you want me to quit God, you’re going to have to take the whole desire away!”  And He did!

This time I was a little more mature and said that I would be willing to try the hard way of will=power if that is what God was asking of me but I would really prefer if he would completely deliver me from the addiction and desire.  And He did!

I got out of bed, took the 18 Coke Lights (that’s what I drink here in Africa) that were supposed to last me for the weekend out of the fridge, took my cool cups out of the freezer and haven’t had a sip since.  I’ve offered it to people who have drank it in front of  me, I have sold the almost 50 cans I had in stock, and have not even once had to utilize will-power or ask for help to avoid giving in and drinking some.  The desire is gone.

Now what isn’t gone are some of the habits and it has been interesting sorting through this.  I think it’s kinda like the role a cigarette plays in a smokers life, aside from the physical addiction.  It’s something to do.  When I walk in the house – I pop one in the freezer to get extra cold.  When I step out of the house for 20 minutes or so and still have an open can, I pop it in the fridge to stay cold, and when I get home, pull it out and take a drink and say “aahhh!”  Especially here in the hot African weather!

I’m used to walking in after a stressful encounter with a misbehaving boy and having a soda to enjoy.  I’m used to having my salty snacks like popcorn and sunflower seeds and savoring them with my soda.  I’m used to having a soda by my side ALL THE TIME!  I have had the taste of Diet Pepsi in my mouth non-stop for 25 years – it’s weird without it!  I keep brushing my teeth! 

In a weird way, I feel a bit bored without it and a bit discombubulated, like things are out of sorts.  Isn’t that weird, that a beverage can have that effect?

The lovely, inspiring and amazing Corrie ten Boom, in her book Tramp for the Lord (which I HIGHLY recommend) talks about deliverance and being set free.  She says that sometimes, after being set free we experience thoughts or temptations, or in my case, habits, that can cause us to question if we are really free.  But she uses the example of church bells to explain what happens.  When someone is ringing the bells, their hand is on the rope, actively causing the bells to ring.  When the person lets go of the rope, the bells still swing back and forth, slower and slower until they stop altogether.  Until the echo fades away.  She said the thoughts that come after deliverance are like that echo, but they fade and disappear in time, if we don’t start “ringing that bell again.”  I’m paraphrasing her and she said it so much better but it sure made sense to me. 

I know that very soon, the “echoes” of the habit of my soda-drinking will fade and disappear altogether. 

I also know that God has 100% delivered me from this addiction and I am so grateful! Praise the Lord, oh my soul! He is able to more than we can ask or imagine!