I read the words of Jesus.
Whoever wants to be My disciple, He said (and still says), must deny themselves and take up their cross daily and follow Me. — Luke 9:23
This Scripture is a clarifying voice calling.
There are, of course, various responses to any voice, including the still small voice. I suppose the many potential responses — the yes, the no, the maybe, the everything in between — mingle somewhere within the place we call the human will. The will — is this the part of humanity that must be mastered? Is this the I that must be “crucified with Christ” so that “it is no longer I who live”? The will, though — isn’t it most persistent, most vicious, the most dogged in its pursuits?
As I see it, the crucifixion of the will feels less like a crucifixion and more like a drowning. Perhaps this is because I’ve never taken up a cross; I’ve never been crucified, and don’t plan on being anytime soon. I’ve never seen a crucifixion either (I avoided watching Mel Gibson’s film The Passion of the Christ because I could not stand to watch such graphic torture), and I don’t suppose I’ll happen upon the infamous form of Roman torture anytime soon. My hands have never been pierced through, and I’ve never worn a crown of thorns. I have been impaled by my fair share of Texan field stickers, but I don’t suppose this to be even the remotest of corollaries.
No, I’ve never been crucified, but I know well the sensation of sinking. I was with my father when our canoe capsized in the icy spring waters of the Buffalo River, and though my feet could touch the bottom even as a boy, the needling waters robbed me of any semblance of orientation.
Yes, I think killing the worst part of the will, the part that refuses to listen to the voice of God, feels less like a crucifixion and more like the sinking of your own ship.
Every time I consider releasing addictions — that infernal everyday occurrence — a familiar capsizing dread creeps in, and with it the skin prickle of the cold Buffalo waters. These thoughts of coming clean steal our breath, don’t they?
Perhaps you might say, “Seth, you are describing nothing more than common anxiety and mild panic.” Allow me to respond: I find nothing common about either anxiety or panic. You might tell me anxiety and panic can be mastered by stopping, breathing, relaxing, and the like. I’d prefer to treat it with a Xanax and a chaser of whiskey. In any event, doesn’t every well-meaning person panic when their canoe is capsizing or being weighed down by too much water?
Addiction is a canoe on the Pacific. It may keep you afloat for a while, but at some point, you’re bound to be overturned. And if there were a luxury cruise liner nearby, wouldn’t you abandon ship? Wouldn’t you brave the icy waters for more secure and better appointed passage?
I don’t know about you, but I’m sinking my canoe in favor of a bigger, better vessel. And even if I find myself resurrected each morning in the hull of that tiny boat, I’ll commit it to sinking again; I will brave the icy waters for the better boat. And perhaps again. And perhaps again.
Yes, it is a daily decision to sink the old will, a decision I’m often too spent, too water-disoriented, to make.
But just when I think I can no longer sink my ship for the umpteenth time, I send up the distress call, and here comes the God of rescue. He drags me from my vices and turns the howitzer on that smallest canoe, shows me how futile the vessels of my making are.
Lord, Jesus Christ, Son of God, have mercy on me, a sinner. Drown my will and bring peace to the war on the sea.
Excerpted with permission from Coming Clean: A Story of Faith by Seth Haines, copyright Zondervan.
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Those of us who have battled addiction can attest to the capsizing. And yet, how else are we to be saved by God unless we’ve been sunken completely, even repeatedly, by our sin and found peace in our God who hears our distress and answers our call. Come join the conversation on our blog. We’d love to hear from you about our God who rescues. ~ Devotionals Daily