Wednesday, April 21, 2010

On "White-knuckling"

As people who know me are aware, I used to go to AA. For me that means, I cannot safely drink alcohol. It does something chemically to my body which is different from what happens in regular people. If I drink wine during communion, I get a sensation from it that other people do not get, which is too strong a temptation for me to toy around with, I believe.

Since September 1994, I've only 'experimented' with alcohol a few times, and those occasions confirmed for me that by faith, I really do need to avoid it.

When I first quit and started attending meetings, I was just "white-knuckling it," as they say. Meaning, that I really did still want to do it, but out of fear of what would happen if I did, I just had to say "no." Fear of the increasing consequences of being given over to it, kept me from doing. I knew the consequences would be severe.

Soon, I began to learn to rely on God and to stop relying on my own strength to keep me away from it. Eventually, God got me to the point where I no longer desired, but rather detested, even the taste of alcohol. Still to this day, if I sip a little rum or beer, I can't stand it. I have no desire whatsoever (even though the effects are still the same). If I were to indulge my flesh or give into to the world on this, I would most likely end up lower than before and perhaps even on skid row or something in a matter of weeks.

I believe the Holy Spirit trains us to say no to ungodliness, but then as we follow His lead, He also gives us an increasing desire for Christ. Yes, we can and must white-knuckle it at first. As a person once enslaved and ensnared in destructive sin, I did just need to quit it, so that, I could then quickly, immediately, move on what is true, noble, and pure. And I must continue to be ready to be obedient in the small things each day, because I know how certain little habits can quickly turn into dominating passions.

In AA, they used to tell the whole problem was not that we lacked will-power, as many of us were used to bombarding all of our problems (and the people in our lives) with our own wills, much to our own demise. The problem was that our will was corrupted by being given over to alcohol. What we needed was redirection of our will, that it needed to be reformed to God's will.(something like that).

Sometimes and always at first, I do just need to white-knuckle it by holding tightly onto the Word, instead of holding tightly onto sin. Then I also remember that my white-knuckling will never keep me there secure or lead me home. By the renewing of my mind and no longer conforming to the pattern of this world, my will is being remade. And only by the grace of God and the power of Christ will my life be kept for heaven.

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