“I’m here because my husband thinks I have a drinking problem,” said Lisa (not her real name). “And he’s crazy! I have my drinking under control.”
But Lisa clearly displayed symptoms of addiction:
- Her alcohol intake had increased.
- She drank alone.
- She used wine to deal with stress.
- Her drinking caused family conflicts.
- She didn’t think she had a problem.
More than 25% of Americans have an alcohol disorder.
A recent study found that alcohol abuse is at crisis levels. More than one in four adults in America drink alcohol compulsively and uncontrollably or periodically engaging in high-risk binge drinking. (JAMA Psychiatry)
The damaging effects of alcohol abuse to physical and mental health, relationships, finances, and productivity are devastating.
Lisa wanted Jesus to be her Shepherd, but in everyday life she relied more on alcohol than God.
Without intending to, she had organized her life around wine. She turned to it to relax after work and have fun socially. She loved to read about wines and visited vineyards whenever she could.
You may not struggle with drinking too much, but maybe something else crowds out Christ from your heart? Ask the Lord to show you who or what you rely on to lift your spirits…
Let’s turn to the Lord Jesus as our Good Shepherd. Not just in principle, but also in the press of daily life. This requires training for character change.
In our Soul Shepherding ministry we use the acronym “VIM” to identify three essential aspects of change: Vision, Intention, Means. (See Dallas Willard’s Renovation of the Heart: Putting on the Character of Christ.)
Lisa chose to believe that Jesus could help her get free of alcoholism and become a new person.
Lisa had to wrestle with the intentions of her heart: did she truly want to give up wine and rely on God to meet her needs?
Lisa also discovered why she had made wine her shepherd: alcohol helped her deal with unwanted emotions like self-consciousness, boredom, loneliness, and anxiety. But now wine was causing her to neglect her children, miss work, wake up with headaches—and she got a DUI.
Realizing that wine was a bad shepherd, she turned her will and her life over to Jesus, the Good Shepherd.
In counseling Lisa learned to feel her emotions and verbalize them. She overcame the shame she felt over even having emotions. She joined an AA group.
Some spiritual disciplines also helped Lisa. She memorized and meditated on Psalm 23. Once or twice a month, she fasted. When she felt physically hungry, she prayed: “Jesus, it’s you and your love that I’m longing for, not food or wine.”
Whenever she was tempted to drink, she prayed, “Your love, O Lord, is better than wine,” a personalized version of Psalm 63:3 (“Your love, O Lord, is better than life”).
About a year later, Lisa was no longer using alcohol as her shepherd. She was relying on Jesus Christ, the Good Shepherd.
God’s love is better than any substance, activity, or person!
It’s a blessing for all of us to apply to our life the steps of Alcoholics Anonymous (AA). We begin by admitting we can’t solve our own problems and we turn our will and our life over the care of the Good Shepherd of Psalm 23.
These Bible prayers will help. (Fill in the blank with whatever is diverting you from Christ.)
“Your love, O Lord, is better than _______.” (Psalm 63:3)
“The Lord Jesus is my Shepherd, I shall not want ________.” (Psalm 23:1)
Listen to: Alcohol & the Holy Spirit
(The newest podcast of “Soul Talks With Bill & Kristi Gaultiere”)
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