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TITLE: Leaving the Gates Open
By Trecia Wright

I originally wrote this for a teen target audience but it was rejected by mag I submitted to. So, I did a re-write for a larger scale audience. Please let me know if this can be used for a teen and adult audience.
When I was a young teenager, around 13 yrs. old, I remember adults constantly spreading a message that one drug will lead to a worse one. I don't know if it was just a popular message of the times but these adults seemed to come from every where saying the same thing. If you smoke cigarettes it will lead to pot. If you smoke pot it will lead to cocaine. Alcohol will lead to promiscuity. Well, that one I believed, but I wasn't so sure about the other ones. I did start smoking cigarettes at a young age however pot was not really my thing. I figured if I stayed away from certain drugs it would keep me from the "hard" drugs. I was wrong. Alcohol is just as much of a drug as the rest, and it led to a lot of other things. Eventually I tried cocaine one night while I was drunk. Even skipping over the pot didn't keep me from the cocaine. There seemed to be a connection but I still couldn't understand how these somewhat different "highs" led to the others.

My thoughts as a teenager seemed reasonable. Keep the lid on certain things, and it won't get out of control. It did anyway. Why? I started to look back at other kids I knew who never tried anything. At the very most, they tried a beer at a party. That was the worst of it for them. What did they do differently than me? As I pondered all of this looking back in time something sort of hit me. The people living a clean life didn't have the same choices to make as those, like me, who were not.

I mean this in a couple of ways. First, the kids I was hanging out with really did have something to do with my choices whether I liked to admit it or not. I had different opportunities to make wrong choices because of the crowd I hung with. Second was a whole new thought. I had left gates open in my life for "bad" stuff to creep in. Smoking cigarettes left a gate open to later experiment with smoking crack because I no longer had "virgin lungs". It wasn't as much of big deal when I had already been inhaling something bad for me for years. Having sex before I was married left a gate open for being promiscuous because I was looking for love and acceptance in all the wrong places. Partying on the weekends drinking alcohol basically left the gate open for all the above, and more. Because of my drinking habits I was sexually abused, physically abused, left stranded miles from home, publicly embarrassed, and taken to jail many times. I know it sounds like I must have been some major drunk but I wasn't. I partied on the weekends with my friends just like everyone I knew. Things happened to them too because they also had left a huge gate open. Still, it seemed like I was missing something. I prayed and asked God for more wisdom.

God revealed to me when we open even one area of our lives to the darkness of the world all of the other areas become weaker. We can start off being very resolved not to get in too deep, however, that resolve starts to slip away a little at a time. Why? Because Satan has an opportunity to exploit those areas. We give him the opportunity by the choices we make but he takes it to the fullest extent God allows. You know the saying give someone an inch and they will take a mile. That's how Satan works. All he needs is an inch. James 4:7 says, "Submit yourselves, then to God. Resist the devil, and he will flee from you."

When we submit to God we are closing these gates. We are making a decision in our hearts to go through with God, not substances. Then comes the second part. Resist the devil. Satan will continue trying to exploit these weaker areas. As we continue to submit, our ability to resist the devil strengthens. In time he will see that it is no use and move on. He will flee from you. The world is a place where instant gratification is a huge motivator. Since Satan has free reign over the earth doesn't it make sense he is the author of instant gratification. So he wants instant results. When we submit to God, and are filled with His power to resist the devil; it won't take long for the devil to flee. No instant gratification.
Unfortunately for a person like me, that means no instant gratification for me either. When I submit to God I am committing myself to wait for God's timing, which usually does not happen instantly. However, I have learned that God has something better in the works for me. I just have to continue doing my part (resisting the devil) while it unfolds.

The easiest thing to do is never start opening the gates. But even if you already have there is still hope. Hold on to James 4:7. Use it to remember in those tough moments that the desire for instant gratification will pass as long as we continually submit to God in our hearts. He loves us, and His plan for us is better than ours. Amen!
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