Over a year ago, I decided my life needed a drastic change. I had realized that most days, I felt lazy and unmotivated. I felt sick and was plagued with headaches often. I also realized that I had become a bit of a negative Nancy (No offense to the Nancys out there). I was unmotivated to attend church, and I wasn’t as on fire for God as I used to be. I was just spending my days waiting to wake up the next morning and do it all over again. I needed to figure out how I got here.
In my mind, there was something medically wrong with me. I went to the doctor and got just about every test known to man done on me, and everything came back normal. I couldn’t figure out how it was possible to feel so horrible with normal test results. I knew that I needed to make some changes somehow. Losing weight was an obvious one. Drinking more water was also a given. But what about my Spiritual life?
Some days I felt like I had this passion. I wanted to learn so much, and I wanted to serve the Lord. I would show up to church with a happy face on and then go home afterward and lie on the couch and watch Netflix for the rest of the day. Then there were days I was miserable. I would show up to church and try not to attract any attention to myself so that I could get it over and done with, go home, and do nothing. I found myself complaining about work all the time, complaining about marriage and my physical ailments. So what did I need to do to make a change in my life?
I prayed about it but did not actively make any real changes. I was expecting God to be my magical genie and make everything better without any sacrifice on my end, without any effort at all. While I was sitting here working one day, a dear friend of mine sent me a video about secular music and the effects it has on people. Some of the music out there is thought to have subliminal messages and even incite certain emotions. So I got to thinking about the music I had been listening to. This led me to think about the pivotal moment when I went from being on fire for God to veering off the path and wandering a little too far into the desert.
I prayed and retraced the steps in my mind. I found that the music I was listening to played a part in the course of my emotions. I felt angry, prideful, annoyed, and confused. One wouldn’t think that lyrics that seem innocent or don’t even make any sense at all would have a part in these kinds of emotions. Then I thought to myself, “This cannot be the only thing that has separated me from a Kingdom mindset.”
I then realized that drinking was also playing a part in this. I always thought it was really no big deal to have a glass of wine here or there. To have wine with my friends. I even drank beer or had some of those fancy mixed drinks on occasion. I thought to myself, “I am not getting drunk. The Bible does not say that we should not drink; it only says not to get drunk.” I found myself saying things like, “I had a really long hard day, I deserve and need a glass of wine to calm down and relax. I just need to chillax on the couch and wind down.” What I didn’t realize was that, when I would drink, I would compromise a little bit here and there.
Eventually, the words that came out of my mouth were not edifying to the Lord Jesus Christ. I thought to myself, “It’s okay if I swear here and there. It’s not like I do it all the time, and I will just ask for forgiveness and try to do better. I would compromise on the types of jokes I entertained even if made by other people. I would entertain complaining and gossiping. I would never post my drinking on social media because I would be mortified for any of my Christian friends to see that.
What kind of a witness could I possibly be if I’m depending on a glass of wine to calm me after a long treacherous day? How could I be most effective if I am not even being true to myself? I was able to see that one drink poisoned my witness. One song leads to another song which leads to a short-tempered, negative, unpleasant person to be around. I was not cooking dinner, keeping up with housework, and everybody annoyed me. Looking back on the little compromises I made and how much time I wasted was a real eye-opener for me.
There is an amazing thing called Grace. And when we repent and run the other direction, the right direction, we open the door for Him to bless our lives and use us for His Kingdom. We do not have to put up with feeling miserable and guilty all the time. We can be happy on a daily basis and not feel bad about that. We can wake up expecting great things to happen because we know that we are doing what we are called to do. We are not idle. The Bible says in Ephesians 5:15-16 (ESV):
“Look carefully then how you walk, not as unwise but as wise, making the best use of the time because the days are evil.”
1 Peter 5:8 (ESV) says:
“Be sober-minded; be watchful. Your adversary the devil prowls around like a roaring lion, seeking someone to devour.”
When I am depending on something other than God to make me feel better, then who am I serving? If the devil is prowling around like a lion to kill and destroy everyone in his path, then I have just opened a door for him to walk right on in if I am not on my guard and standing firm and ready. If my days consist of getting off of work and relaxing with wine and Netflix until it is time to go to bed, I cannot expect to be ready when the enemy comes to provide me a terrible day.
In 1 Samuel 18, the Bible says that King Saul had been overcome by an evil spirit and was very jealous of David. The Lord was with David. David was on his guard always. One day while he was playing music, King Saul hurled a spear at David. He planned on pinning him to the wall. However, David evaded him twice. King Saul tried many times to corner David and to kill him. Saul was very jealous of David because the Lord was with him. This image mirrors the enemy perfectly. He hates us and does not want us to succeed. The devil hasn’t changed in all the years that humans have been around on this earth. His tactics still work, so why change them? If he can get us feeling wonderful and preoccupied with other things than God Himself, then he has a foothold to meddle in our lives and affect the way we operate.
Once I made the decision to give up alcohol for the rest of my life and only listen to music that uplifts the Lord and worships our King, my life took a turn for the better. I no longer dread going to church because I have to put on a fake face and pretend to be somebody that I am not. I no longer have to walk around annoyed and angry due to the guilt my subconscious held onto. I no longer feel like my life has no real purpose.
I will never condemn another Christian for allowing alcohol into their home. Or for listening to the good old ’80s. However, my own convictions, my own walk was poisoned. My actions opened doors for the enemy to stunt my growth spiritually. Not only do I not want to be a stumbling block to myself, but I also have a responsibility to the people around me. I never want to take part in anyone else around me stumbling.
We need to always remain alert, strong, and on-guard. For me, an about-face, a new direction was necessary in order to get back in God’s presence and be the person He created me to be. To live out my purpose. And in doing so, I am a happier, more joyful, and forgiving person to be around. I am effective, and the things that used to bother me to the core are mere annoyances that I can easily brush off. I am able to remain focused and steadfast. By doing an about-face, giving up certain pleasures in life, and changing direction, I am no longer serving self but now serving the Lord.
Featured Image by Joseph Barrientos