“How deep do you want to go?”
These were the first words spoken by a jedi-knight of a counselor to my close friend as he embarked on a five-day counseling intensive. Their meaning is simple and yet profound, and the answer isn’t assumed. The counselor needed to know because my buddy’s response would be the primary factor in shaping what God could do in the next five days.
In that same spirit, I didn’t engage that intense fast I mentioned in a previous blog to stay in the shallows. If the Spirit were asking me, “How deep do you want to go?,” my response would be “the whole way.” I want more; I need more.
And it was in those deep places that I unearthed this truth in my heart:
I love beer more than Jesus.
It’s humiliating to name it. But several weeks into this fast, it’s time to be honest.
While I’m being honest, I’m finding out there are a bunch of things I love more than Jesus:
-sugar, chicken wings, caffeine,
Before you laugh, I wonder what your list really looks like. If you feel like you are coming up short, grab a copy of Gerald May’s Addiction and Grace.
In his opening chapter, May suggests that “we are all addicts in every sense of the word”(3).
Yet through the course of his book, he explains that our addictions can be conduits of profound grace, for in facing them, we come face to face with our Jesus and the depth of His love for us.
First, we must face the reality of our addictiveness, how prone we are to attach (literally “to nail”) our desires to specific objects…We nail our desires for love, comfort, validation, impact, creativity, power, satisfaction, pleasure, fascination, greatness and intimacy to so many things, from our careers to our children, from our bank accounts to the Starbucks drive-thru…
And yet, right here Jesus loves us. Right here in our propensity to attach our desires to so many things other than relationship with Him, He loves us. Being honest with ourselves and with Him about our attachments gives us the opportunity to take a most remarkable risk of faith: “believing that God is good and that God does love us unconditionally” (Addiction and Grace 169). Or as Brennan Manning discovered through a life-long, never-fully-resolved addiction to alcohol, “God loves us as we are, not as we should be.”
Jesus, there are places in my heart that much prefer to entrust myself to the immediate comfort of beer more than I desire you. I bring the truth of who I am to the truth of who you are. And I receive your love for me right here.
Facing our addictions is also a massive step to reclaiming our sincere desire for God. Our very tendency towards addiction reveals spiritual hunger that is itself a treasure map leading straight to our Father’s heart. What if we could relate to our fundamental restlessness, this nagging sense of un-fulfillment and the pain of being hungry and unsatisfied with utter compassion, recognizing that these symptoms are signposts of our spiritual hunger which is “a most precious gift from God” (180)?
It is this very spiritual hunger that points us back to our Father.
About a week ago I was walking following my well worn path of walking toward the fridge yet again, but this time with a newfound pause:
“Jesus, you are my beer.”
The words came out before I could edit them.
I still can’t even explain the theology of it, but it’s true. Two weeks without beer and I can still feel the restlessness after work and the discomfort of the inability to escape that restlessness. It turns out that this fast for me is much more about my addictions than my food allergies, about what I have attached my heart to other than God for my source of life. Now, it’s become part of my daily prayer: “Jesus, you are my beer. You are my freedom, life, healing and breakthrough. More of you is available. Today. I want the more, Jesus. I want more of you.”
What do you love more than Jesus?
You might have to take a more direct route to get to the honest answer to this question.
Where have you taken your desires for God and attached them to people, places and things, demanding that they come through for you in a way they never can?
I love beer more than Jesus.
But I love it a little less and I love Him a little more than I did just weeks ago.
And I’m not stopping here. There is too much at stake.
And for you.
Father! I want to want you more! I ask first for your compassion to course through every cell of my body, your compassion for my propensity to attach my desire to so many objects in this life. Father, I receive your compassion. Now, Father, I confess my fear to you. My fear of being hungry. My fear of being unfulfilled. My fear of being restless. Father, come into my fear…
Holy Spirit, come, shine your right here, right now. Reveal to me the particular addictions that you would like me to face in this moment. Expose the people, places and the things I have given my heart over to in a desperate reaching for life.
And now, Spirit, I am asking for your liberation. I ask that your power would fall on me, that you would cut the chains of bondage that ensnare my desire, and that you would deliver my desire back into freedom… Father, I ask for all the freedom that you have for me in this area…
Jesus, through your life I am asking that you would detach my heart from all of these trappings and attach it more deeply than ever before to you. I believe that all my heart needs to love, to be loved, and to move ever closer to the source of love can be found in you. Meet me in this vulnerable and young place. Make a way where there is no way. I choose you.