Rose was a member of my small group. She asked me one night what I thought about smoking cigarettes. I said, “It’s not what’s between your fingers that I see as a problem; it’s what is in the smoker’s heart.” At that moment, the Lord did the miraculous inside Rose. Over the next few months, her heart changed. Rose tells the story this way:
I did not want to quit smoking. I liked to smoke and felt my smoking wouldn’t change my lifespan since God already knows the day we are born, and the day we die.
I did not think he was up there deducting time off my life for each cigarette I smoked. Of course, I did believe my quality of life would improve if I quit smoking, but that wasn’t the selling point for me.
What made me ask Rick about quitting smoking was that he kept saying the gospel is the answer to everything and I just couldn’t figure out how Jesus dying for my sins and defeating death was an answer to someone trying to give up an addiction like my smoking idol.
That is why I asked him to explain this to me, and he did. I do not have his exact words or sketches he drew for me, but I will tell you the things that struck a chord with me and the things I realized since I decided to trust Christ with one of the little things in my life.
The most important aspect for me to remember is that I didn’t quit smoking; I decided to live in faith, and God did the rest.
Start With the Gospel
For God so loved the world, that he gave his only Son, that whoever believes in him should not perish but have eternal life. – John 3:16
If I actually believe what John said, I should have a response to that verse daily, and that would be my faith expressing itself in my life. Then I have to think of my faith and what that looks like in my life. I go to church meetings, read my Bible, pray, attend care group, fellowship with believers, and on and on and on…
These disciplines are all me doing things and living in my little Christian box, but where am I growing? I am growing in knowledge and truth, but where is the evidence of my faith manifested in my life?
I would say if we are to grow in faith, we need to step out of our boxes; that is where we see the evidence of faith, grace, mercy, and the Holy Spirit dwelling in us and manifested in our lives.
Remember, God always goes before us and sometimes He takes us to places outside our daily boxes because He loves us. God’s mysterious and painful work may be the loss of a job, the loss of a loved one, moving to a new state, a troubled teen, facing the fact we have an idol, etc.
As far as idols go, it may be that doctor telling you your blood sugar is high, the feeling of being run down all the time, a cough that won’t go away. It could be that you have to spend money on new clothes, but your old clothes are perfectly fine; they just don’t fit anymore.
Suffering is the place that puts feet on our stagnant faith as God places us outside our neat little boxes and asks, “Am I still God when you are out here? Do I still love you when you’re out here? Do you still trust in the gospel when you’re out here?”
At that point, we have to preach the gospel to ourselves and believe in Him again, even though it isn’t under our control; and keep walking towards the cross, following Him as He goes before us. Each time He takes us outside our box, and we trust in Him fully, our box gets bigger (our faith increases), and our praise grows, as our testimony for Him grows. All the glory belongs to Him!!!
Now, realizing I had been growing in knowledge and truth for many years by receiving the gospel made me realize God was equipping me for this stepping out of the box, and I was immediately amazed by His kindness.
At that point, I had not even decided to give my cigarettes to Christ, but I had to examine my motives for giving them to Him. I would have to physically, emotionally, and spiritually trust Him daily and walk closely with Him. I would have to put all my weight on Him. Our confidence in Him has to be exactly that, our trust in HIM!
Crying like an Infant
For me, especially giving smoking over to Him was the hardest part as I sat on my knees, face on the ground in my bathroom for over two hours crying like an infant, talking with God. My conversation was kind of like this:
I know you are who you say you are and because of that, I know I can trust you. I know you will take this from me, and I won’t have to worry about it, but I have to be the one to give it to you, and this is the part I am struggling with the most.
I have to choose between trusting in you or trusting in my idol. To trust in you means I must relinquish my idol to you today by trusting in you and then, I have to choose to trust in you daily to sustain me.
As I was having this conversation with God, it became apparent by giving God this idol, I was living out the gospel. Therefore, the gospel is the answer to everything.
After I had put the burden of my idol on Him, my responsibility of trusting Him on a daily basis was light. BAM!! There you go, the gospel once again!!
Since that first day, I realized Christ freed me from a false god. What was I thinking? I would get stressed, bored, anxious, etc. and bow to my idol (smoke a cigarette) and then feel okay as if I accomplished something. No, the only true life-sustaining accomplishment is Christ’s work on the cross!
I hope this helps you! I will pray for His accomplishment through you!
Also published on Medium.