“…we all need something to keep us from kicking the cat once in a while— don’t we?”
In my early days of following the Lord, when I finally decided to get serious about it—to trust the Lord with my life and my heart and not just for my salvation—I thought about this saying of Jesus a lot: “No one, having put his hand to the plow, and looking back, is fit for the kingdom of God.”
I believe the Lord had put it on my heart to encourage me to stay the course, to keep my eyes focused on him because at that time in the early days of my recovery, I was tempted often to reminisce about the days of no holds barred, party hardy and cure tomorrows hangover with the next nights party, guilt free ‘aren’t I the popular one’ lifestyle of altered consciousness.
It was indeed a miracle that set me free in a moment’s time from a years long life of substance abuse—pretty much any substance would do me for a while there, but weed and whisky were my fall back favorites—but even after the Lord set my heart on fire for him and surrounded me with his sustaining love, I still was not convinced I could stay free for the long term. It was a process of changing my way of thinking and letting my heart convince my head that I would never allow myself to be lured back into the embraces of Mary Jane, Jose, Jack or Johnny. If you don’t know who any of those are, God Bless you!
So I initially set one month as my goal—drug and alcohol free for one month—and that was blown after only one week I when I gave in to a buddy who came over and convinced me to smoke a bowl or two with him. I was sitting in my living room minding my own business, my newly rediscovered bible sitting on the coffee table where my bong used to sit, when a friend came over, asked me about the Bible and wondered where my bong was—“I’ve got some good stuff here.”
“I don’t do that anymore, I’ve found something better—the Holy Spirit has filled me with everything I need.” “Well, that’s great. But what happens when you have a really bad day? You still need something to mellow you out once in a while don’t you? I mean, we all need something to keep us from kicking the cat once in a while— don’t we?”
That is literally what he said, and yes that was all it took to convince me to get stoned. I mean, I really didn’t like cats and I was tasked at the time with taking care of my roommates cat while he worked out of town.
The devil is a crafty one and the flesh is ridiculously weak.
So, since I didn’t produce the bong he was hoping to use, he pulled a pipe from his pocket, filled it up, lit it and handed it to me and I, probably from force of habit more than anything, took it and smoked that smoke. I got good and stoned, laughed with him for a while, then he left and I found myself alone—I mean really alone. I had never felt so alone. The presence of God that had been on me like a warm pair of flannel pajamas on a cold winter night for the past week—was gone.
I was stoned and the Spirit was quenched. So I vowed right then and there that I was not going to get stoned for a month if the Lord would only come back—I did not want to be alone.
You might be saying “A month? big deal.” But I took a vow to the Lord very seriously and I did not want to take a chance of being damned because of a broken vow to the Lord if my foolish and weak flesh could not resist more than a month—I mean I had already blown it after just one week. And, after having been stoned literally every day for five years—5 out of only 23—a month seemed like a very long time.
And I suspected that if I could go that long, I would be able to keep going on, weed free and Spirit filled, without the fear of a broken vow tempting the enemy to keep poking me with stupid cat analogies. It’s no wonder I don’t like cats. By the way, the Lord’s presence did embrace me once again and gave me the strength to keep, my vow, and then some. And the cat died just to spite me, and no I did not kick it.
I have been free from substance addictions for 30 years now.
No Looking Back
And another also said, “Lord, I will follow You, but let me first go and bid them farewell who are at my house.”
No one, having put his hand to the plow, and looking back, is fit for the kingdom of God.” Luke 9:61—62
The enemy is always looking for an opportune time to drag us back, even if it’s only in our minds. Just don’t go there.
Jesus is making with his response here I believe. telling those listening—’there is nothing back there worth going back for, pining for, or clinging to, if it means not answering my call to follow. . . now.’
Jesus calls us when he wants us to follow. It is not a preemptive call; ‘Get ready, I’ll be back in a year to lead you on.’ Or, ‘Go out and party hardy, make a bucket of money, eat drink and be merry, for tomorrow the work starts. Jesus knew that this particular gentleman’s final farewell was an excuse to postpone his call, a longing to cling to, or go back to, what he had, and it would probably have delayed him longer and longer until it was too late. His own heart disqualified him before he even started. Sad.
Keep your eyes on the prize, no turning back. You have not missed anything that is worth more than the prize at the end of the road—not by a long shot. St. Paul would come to the same conclusion and said as much often.
…forgetting those things which are behind and reaching forward to those things which are ahead, 14 I press toward the goal for the prize of the upward call of God in Christ Jesus. Phil 3:13, 14
Forget those things back there, those technicolor remakes of black and white memories that our brains keep replaying in our heads.
Only the lies of the enemy make the parties we missed look attractive—“Oh the fun I could have had if I wasn’t a follower of Christ trying to live righteously”
Ever thought that? ‘If I only knew now what I didn’t know then, the fun I could have had.’ Or more like; ‘If only I didn’t know then what I knew, I could have had a lot of guilt free fun and memories to cherish in my righteous doldrums today.’
Only a dog returns to it’s vomit—I know that’s gross but that’s the way the scriptures describe a fool returning to his sin after being delivered. ‘Hmmm. It was good the first time, I sure miss it, hey there it is, let’s. . .’—I’ll stop there.
22 But it has happened to them according to the true proverb: “A dog returns to his own vomit,” and, “a sow, having washed, to her wallowing in the mire.”
You were made for so much better.