On April 26, 2003, Aron Ralston, rock climber and canyoneer, drove five hours to explore Bluejohn Canyon, Utah. He barely made it home alive. Just before heading back to his car, a massive boulder shifted, trapping Aron’s arm under it’s tremendous weight. For nearly six days he screamed and violently struggled to free himself as his body shut down from lack of water. Knowing he would soon die of dehydration, and willing to go to any lengths to get free, Aron used his body weight to break the arm, apply a tourniquet, and amputate using only a dull pocket knife. When he finished the medieval surgery he was free! He was free from the giant obstacle holding him back from experiencing life.
Image if he had done all this and then died of dehydration on the canyon floor.
Many people recovering from addiction do just that. We break free of drugs but then stop short full recovery. Just as Aron broke free from the boulder and found water, the point of breaking free from the slavery of addiction is to drink deeply of the Source of real life: Jesus.
In this series of articles we have explained what addiction really is, how a drug addict can be saved, and how to deal with the shame of our past. We have shared how to be free from the boulder of addiction, but now we must explain how to drink from the soul-satisfying Fountain who is Jesus Christ. He wants to quench the deep down thirst of your soul. He wants you to drink deeply of Himself.
Just as a marriage relationship requires more than a symbolic ring on my finger, I've learned that my relationship with God demands more than an initial freedom encounter. God desires that we be saved and that we be satisfied in a warm, intimate relationship with Him. The relationship is established in a moment, but the intimacy may take some work. Just like a marriage, the work to pursue intimacy with God is always worth it. Intimacy with God is what our souls long for!
Many people stop just short of true freedom. They go to treatment, clean out their proverbial house, sweep the floors, make amends, go to the meetings, but soon find themselves in a worse state then when they started. Jesus said this would happen:
“When the unclean spirit has gone out of a person, it passes through waterless places seeking rest, but finds none. Then it says, ‘I will return to my house from which I came.’ And when it comes, it finds the house empty, swept, and put in order. Then it goes and brings with it seven other spirits more evil than itself, and they enter and dwell there, and the last state of that person is worse than the first. So also will it be with this evil generation” (Matthew 12:43-45).
It’s not enough to get the bad out; we must also fill the empty space with something, or really Someone. True lasting freedom is not found in the absence of something, but in the presence of Someone. "Now the Lord is the Spirit, and where the Spirit of the Lord is, there is freedom” (2 Cor. 3:17). If we are going to experience lasting freedom, we must not only clean our spiritual house, but also we must be filled with the Spirit of God.
Aron Ralston experienced a thirst while trapped in that canyon most of us will never know. But many of us have experienced that same intense thirst in our soul. For years we have tried to quench our thirst with anything we can get our hands on, especially drugs. When we finally break the habit our thirst seems greater than ever. We’re sober, and we’re dying of thirst.
Jesus speaks to a soul-thirsty woman and says, “Everyone who drinks of this water will be thirsty again, but whoever drinks of the water that I will give him will never be thirsty again. The water that I will give him will become in him a spring of water welling up to eternal life.” The woman said to him, “Sir, give me this water, so that I will not be thirsty or have to come here to draw water” (John 4:13-15).
Jesus, the Living Water, is who we long for. We must drink deeply of Him for only He is able to quench our deepest thirst. Jesus encourages us to find the pleasure we are looking for in Him. The Psalmist echoes this as he commands us to “Delight yourself in the LORD” (Psalm 37:4a).
After Aron Ralston broke free, he did not stay in the canyon. He hiked, hobbled, and searched frantically until he found a hiking family with a supply of water. They gave him the water he was dying for. Let’s follow Aron’s example. Let’s not settle for just being free from our addiction, let’s make it our life’s aim to be satisfied in God. Let us not only devote our lives to being free from a substance, but also being filled with the Spirit. No more empty life dying of thirst. Jesus wants your thirst quenched and your joy overflowing. Let’s drink deeply of Jesus!
-Set aside time each day to commune with God through prayer and reading His Word. I call this my JOY time. My JOY time usually happens early in the morning with a strong cup of black coffee. Find whatever time and place works for you. If you don’t know where to start reading, start in the Gospel of John. This time does not have to be super religious; just spend time with God, your heavenly Father; He can’t wait to talk with you.
-What makes you feel close to God? Do more of that.
-What makes you feel distant from God? Stop doing those things.