Read Proverbs 23
Today’s Proverb addresses a number of issues I’ve been working through recently. While I would love to have a 3 point breakdown of Solomon’s writing that I could expound upon, that just doesn’t seem appropriate today. So instead, let’s get real:
I come from a family that has struggled with substance abuse problems. There are alcoholics, drug addicts, and food addicts in my family. For years I was addicted to prescription medications and I didn’t even realize it. I was addicted to the numbness the drugs would provide and used them to help me get through life. Today I don’t struggle with prescriptions like I used to (if you want to hear about my process of regaining my health, I would love to discuss that with you), but there are times when I just want to drink. I want to drink to numb out the pain or anger or frustration and silence the myriad of thoughts constantly racing through my mind. But because I know my history with substances and my family’s history, I won’t allow myself to drink. I don’t have any alcohol in the house and when I go out with friends, even if they’re drinking, I don’t. I can’t allow myself to go even an inch down that road because if a series of extreme circumstances lined up, I could quickly derail my life.
But what a learning experience this has been! I’ve come to realize that on particularly hard days I will almost always opt for the quick fix. I will do everything I can to make myself feel better in the moment, though I will eventually come to regret that decision. This often looks like eating poorly, which tastes great and lifts my spirits in the moment, but leads me to experience pain later. While I’ve been able to, through my own will power, eliminate one overtly bad form of coping, I haven’t addressed the root of the problem. I am still learning healthy ways to deal with the realities of stress, anger, frustration, and disappointment.
Don’t for a minute envy careless rebels;
soak yourself in the Fear-of-God—
That’s where your future lies.
Then you won’t be left with an armload of nothing.
I love the imagery of this verse. What does “soaking” yourself in the Fear of God look like to you? It might look like being in church consistently, reading your Bible daily, praying constantly, worshipping always, being honest with community, or all of the above. For me it looks like being in a continuous conversation with God. It looks like playing worship music as I write, listening to sermons as I do busywork, reading and memorizing scripture regularly and posting verses where I can see them daily. Today I’ve asked many times, “God, what shall we do today?”. This may sound weird to you and that’s okay, you can soak yourself in the Fear of God in the way that is appropriate for you. For me, I need that consistent communication and reminder that what I’m doing today isn’t about me, it’s about him. By openly communicating with God throughout the day, my mind and heart are more inclined and in tune to hear his voice and respond.
I’ve been learning that my self-control can only take me so far. Eventually my own strength will give out. But when I rely on his strength, when I focus on his word, and consistently communicate with him, I can confidently move forward.
Let’s set ourselves up for success today by choosing to create spaces for us to soak in his precious presence!