After my posts about running last week, I heard from my friend James May. He expanded on the idea of needing each other and graciously allowed me to reprint his letter.
I heard an interview on CBC with Zelda Gamson, who was a hard-core addicted smoker. Although she knew it was bad for her, and wanted to quit, she kept going back to smoking.
Then in a determined, impulsive moment she made a rash promise: “If I ever smoke another cigarette, I’ll donate $5000 to the Ku Klux Klan!”
What she did, according to an expert on the radio, was to up the ante. Now the long term good that she wanted had a friend to keep her on track: the reprehensible thought of supporting an organisation that she despised. That thought was more powerful than the powerful craving supplied by the nicotine addiction; she had brought the struggle into the present. Rather than dealing with the conflict between the immediate pleasure Zelda would get from smoking and the possible future pleasure she would get from being free from the addiction and the possible avoidance of further damage to health, she was faced with the immediate decision; this small comfort, or this present evil- in many respects, an easier choice.
Jon, the Christian life is a relationship, but we can be smart about how we discipline ourselves. You have showed us that in running with a friend, and sticking with it. Our public radio, the CBC has showed us that by showing us Zelda, who used to smoke. AA shows us that by pointing us to “a higher power.”
We overcome sin by Jesus’ blood. That is how we are saved.
The rest of the journey is also by God’s grace, BUT there is a ton of room for self-discipline, which ironically doesn’t happen alone.. That’s why we need the host of witnesses encouraging us. It’s why we need our 2×4 friends. And it’s why we need to listen to each other’s stories.