Previous Challenge Entry (Level 4 – Masters)
Topic: RED (02/01/18)
- TITLE: From Cobwebs to Cables – and Clarity
By Noel Mitaxa
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“Everybody’s doing it. Why be the odd one out?”
“There are no prizes for nobodies.”
“You’ve thought about it so long – why not just do it?”
“If you feel guilty for thinking about it, you might as well go ahead and do it. Then all those guilty feelings won’t be wasted!”
“Nobody else will ever know; we’ll keep it our little secret.”
How many addicts have I met who have been too attentive to these and other seductive voices? Or taken by surprise at an unguarded moment? Only to discover that their fascination has proved false – yet again.
Later, as they reflect on the emotional, spiritual or financial cost of their actions, their self-loathing is real. Especially when they confront – or are confronted by – the damage their actions have inflicted on those close to them. People whose love for them is smudged with the unfair burden of becoming co-dependents.
Addictive behaviour starts innocently enough. Some spare time here; some curiosity there. All linked with exploring a different approach to any perfectly normal drive or interest. This exploration begins with the fragile flimsiness of a cobweb. No big deal, so easy to step away, and no need for red lights.
But the cobwebs get stronger, and the fascination builds by overplaying anticipation of deeper exploration, so that other areas of life get subsumed by the need to satiate the inner call for more sex, or food, or clothes, or gossip, or alcohol, or other drugs… the list goes on.
Red lights offer brighter and stronger warning and threats, but so does addicts’ ability to ignore any restrictive insensitivity… “After all, nobody really understands these pressures,” and “I can stop anytime I like!”
For a time, that is true. Until the cobwebs become cables that start to control the addict about when, where, how and how often to feed the addiction. Red lights become more obvious – to everyone else.
True, addiction is an illness, but it is a self-chosen illness that shuts out any growth of appreciating the wider world; any sustained positive personal influence in that world; and how to relate with everyday people.
Addicts have choices
So do non-addicts. But how often have I overlooked those red-light warnings from the still, small voice of God’s Spirit when my choices have been blurred by distracions, tiredness or sloppy time management? Or when extended solo times have led me to over-focus on me and how much the world – or the God who made it - owes me?
God’s red-light warnings are all part of the living sacrifice that Paul wrote about to his friends in Rome – chapter twelve. In his grace, God will always invite us to choose his green lights to open new horizons in our journey with him, while turning on red lights to encourage us to stop and affirm his guidance through scripture or through recognising his bigger picture and his better timing.
Any hope for addicts? The Apostle Paul, pours out his frustration in Romans chapter seven.
Was Paul addicted to anything? I doubt it, but though his maturity in Christ alerted him to the slightest deviation from God’s best, he still experienced the living sacrifice he mentions in chapter twelve. His old nature was still very much alive, and he knew how it still needed to be put to death. For it could allure him; pushing him towards doing the very thing he hated doing - actions that prompt the frustration he expresses in Romans 7: 24-5: “Oh wretched man that I am! Who will rescue me from this body of death? Thanks be to God – through Jesus Christ our Lord!”
The offer of God’s green light through Jesus’ death and resurrection outshines the red lights for anyone, especially as we learn to stay open and obedient to him - with or without angelic choirs or shafts of light - in the glory or the grind of our everyday.
For only God can snap the cables…
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