Friday, February 28, 2014

Coal or Diamond - Part 13

Image used under Creative Commons license, photo by Simon Carrasco, from Flikr
Jeremiah 29:11-13 (KJV)  For I know the thoughts that I think toward you, saith the LORD, thoughts of peace, and not of evil, to give you an expected end.  Then shall ye call upon me, and ye shall go and pray unto me, and I will hearken unto you.  And ye shall seek me, and find me, when ye shall search for me with all your heart. 

That's quite a statement and one we'll explore further, today.  But not before we cover some things from before my recognition of that became a solid reality.  Even though they weren't wonderful times, they led to my awakening.

There were three things consistent from my teens to my mid thirties: my flesh, tobacco, and alcohol. With a bit of "sex, drugs, and rock and roll" thrown in for good measure.  There are a number of car accidents and one failed marriage (me being the failure).  I could go into more detail, but when it comes to my own life, I have a difficult time finding that fine line between reporting and sensationalizing or glamorizing the events.  So, I'd rather limit details when I'm not sure if the end result will glorify God.

There is one takeaway from this whole period that I need to discuss.  It's something that is only likely to get more "interesting" for our society as more locales legalize marijuana for recreational purposes.  And, no, this isn't the recovered/recovering alcoholic railing against the evils of alcohol and other substances. And it's not an ultra-conservative berating the Satanic evils of drinking or other mind altering activities.  There's something more subtle and devious at play.  Think with me and you'll see what I mean.

Throughout history, alcohol always seems to be tied to life that's hard.  It gets used to either celebrate, no matter how subtle the attachment, overcoming hardship or to mentally and psychologically avoid it.  I get it.  It works.  Yes, there are some of us who, for whatever reason, go to extremes with indulging.  Blame it on mindset, chemistry or whatever.  But that's not what I want to look at, here.  That's the excess that becomes the exception.

My favorite verse, Matthew 6:33 (KJV), starts with "But seek ye first the kingdom of God, and his righteousness;".  And the greatest commandment goes all the way back to the Old Testament, in Deuteronomy 6:4-6 (KJV), "Hear, O Israel: The LORD our God is one LORD: And thou shalt love the LORD thy God with all thine heart, and with all thy soul, and with all thy might.  And these words, which I command thee this day, shall be in thine heart:".  Consider what God is saying.  It's not "fit Me in wherever you can", it's "seek FIRST".  It's not "fit Me in wherever you can, it's "love the LORD thy God with ALL thine heart, and with ALL thy soul, and with ALL thy might".  And we're to give that thought permanent internal residence.  The next two verses say we go even further to teach that to our future generations and we make that love an outward sign of our relationship with Him. You can look that up and read it for yourself.

If we bring in any substance that makes us think we've overcome something without God, we start committing fraud against ourselves.  Alcohol and other substances chemically alter the things that create our thought patterns.  There's no evidence of how temporary or permanent that might be. But I'll suggest something.  If we have multiple societies doing this on something akin to a daily basis, then there's no way for the scientist to measure what's "normal", because the neurological changes are so commonplace that they seem normal.  Those changes keep intellectually crediting us for things that God does to keep us going.  And there's a mental, psychological, and spiritual wedge that daily grows between us and God.

It's not the small band of drunks and druggies, like myself, that are the real problem.  We're only the flashing neon sign pointing to the bigger issue.  Society becomes numbed to the reality of what God does for us and the enormity of His blessings on us.

When we look back to Adam and Eve, we see a great environment, enhanced by their relationship with God.  And Satan defrauds them into believing they don't need God.  When they succumb to that, creation changes for the worse because of that thinking.  Millenia later, we embrace beverages and substances that seem to alleviate the pain by defrauding us into thinking we've fixed a reality that was created by our race (human) buying into the lie.  So, we just continue to propagate the same lie.  We're like aerated coal.  Not enough substance to be of use.  And the air pockets are too many and too large for pressure to create a diamond sufficiently flawless to be of any real value.

In contrast, go back to our starting verses in Jeremiah.  That's how God thinks about us.  He never severs His end of the relationship.  And what those verses describe is a relationship with Him that's unhindered by alcohol or any other mind altering substance.  Unhindered by greed, lust, hunger for power, etc.  Instead of those we see a relationship that flows in both directions.  It's a relationship that blesses and heals within situations, without having to remove us from them.  And it's a relationship where other things don't need to fill a void that only God can really fill.

There may or may not be those who can socially drink or moderately use other things without changing brain chemistry too badly.  And there's certainly some need for the psychotropic medicines to stabilize mental illness.  But the meds ought to be used more sparingly and the rest of us ought to leave the decision to use alcohol, etc. to God.  Man has a blatant history of making drastically bad decisions.  When we realize that, there's a pretty clear picture that we're not evolving to something better and we understand how some will deny that there even is a God.  When there's some standard beyond ourselves, we can't hide the fact that we haven't done very well by ourselves.

Whether we need to find a relationship with God or we need to fix the one we have, don't we want to do that without killing brain cells and lying to ourselves?  Consider this:

Proverbs 1:7 (AMP)  The reverent and worshipful fear of the Lord is the beginning and the principal and choice part of knowledge [its starting point and its essence]; but fools despise skillful and godly Wisdom, instruction, and discipline.

Are we wise or the fool, today?  And which do we want to become?

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