I know a man who several years ago had a little problem. He liked to drink beer. Now, there is nothing wrong with drinking beer, so far as I know. This man's problem was that he drank it a six pack at a time. He drank it at least once a week, and many times twice a week. What's the big deal, right?
Well, for this man, it was a big deal. He drank to escape the pain he felt over the failure of his marriage. He drank to hide from the hate he felt for the man his wife left he and his daughter for. He drank to not feel so alone. And, he drank to run away from the memories of the way it used to be.He was not an alcoholic, however, he felt like he could easily approach the edge and fall right over.
No one knew he had a problem, because very few people knew he drank beer like this. He could play the "Christian" social game as well as anyone, "one beer won't hurt, after all." Except after all the people left, he finished the six pack. Slowly, he was becoming buried by his double life. He knew he had to stop, or it would get worse.
For over a year, He prayed, and begged, and tried, and prayed and tried some more. The harder he tried, the more he was tempted to drink, and the more he was tempted, the further he fell. To make matters worse, he was becoming depressed. Was there nothing he could do that would ever change anything? He felt like a failure, and guilt came upon him like a flood.
About a year and a half ago, this man reached his limit. After a night of drinking seven or eight beers , he finally came to the end of himself, and gave up. He gave up trying to stop, he gave up his effort, and just fell toward God in despair.
A year and a half ago, this man stopped drinking beer when he was alone. In the last year and a half, he can count the number of beers drank on two hands. How does such a thing happen? What changed?
When asked recently how it happened, he had to openly admit, "I don't know. I gave up trying to quit drinking six packs. I got so frustrated over it that I felt like just dying. I didn't want to disobey my Father in Heaven anymore, and no matter how hard I tried, nothing I did ever made a difference. To go from drinking a six pack two nights a week to almost nothing? I can't explain it."
This man was asked recently how he was doing with that now, and he said, "I'm not really doing anything. I have a beer maybe once every three or four months, but the truth is, it just never occurs to me anymore to have one."
I know this man well, and his efforts at making himself "better" amounted to nothing, yet when he finally fell toward God in despair, everything changed, and he was never aware of the process. How do I know this man so well, you might ask? Because this man is me.
To this day, I don't understand what happened. I couldn't tell you what steps to take to get to the point of absolute surrender. You see, that is what happened. I surrendered in despair, not to the problem, but to Jesus. Today, I have no checklist left to mark off my growth and "victory" over sin. It's not that I don't sin, or that I haven't anything left to be changed. It's just that I learned a better way, and it starts with surrender.
I'm not telling you not to try. Some people try quitting things with amazing results. What I am telling you is this; in the end, we change nothing through our efforts. The night I fell in depair, I never doubted that Jesus was going to find a way to help me.
Jesus told us to abide in him, and he would abide in us, and so we would bear much fruit. This question I put to the the many who believe that the only way to abide in Jesus is to try to obey Him. If you came to Jesus through grace by faith, would it not make sense that you remain, or abide in Him through the very same? My experience tells me the answer is yes. What does your experience say?