It’s been in the news lately. A couple of famous people have fallen off the sobriety wagon. Oh. They’re jumping back on, but now their private acts have been exposed. The battle they’ve been fighting is still being fought but now out in the open. Their worst private moments are made public. They lost their way. They had a tough year. They gave in to the dark thoughts and desires within.
Oh. It’s easy to point fingers and name names. It’s easy to blame others’ problems on their lack of self-control or unknown weaknesses. But I don’t know these people. Except for what I read in the news. I’ll never meet them. I’ll never shake their hand. I’ll never look them in the eye. But what I do know is that the issues they’re facing can’t be faced alone. They need others to help guide them and hold them accountable. They need help.
They’ve had years of sobriety and great success. They have been applauded and rewarded. They have been the center of attention for a period of time. But something happened. Poor decisions. Hard times. Uncertainty. Temptations. Dark thoughts. Who knows what caused the downfall. They knew all the right things to do. Go to meetings. Be accountable. Get help when things start to spin out of control. But this time. This time things were different. The downward spiral started and before too long, they were too far gone to rescue themselves. They no longer listened to the voice of reason within themselves or from those who wanted to help. They got lost as they walked the path of sobriety.
I have hidden your word in my heart, that I might not sin against you. Psalm 119:11
I read a story in the Bible about a nation called Israel. They had a history of ups and downs in their relationship with God. Oh. Life was good when they kept God on their side. But when they started to spiral downward. And they did. Life went out of control. Their enemies came calling. No. It wasn’t social calls. It was war. All-out war. Then when life became so unbearable, they remembered God. Oh. Yes. God can help us. They remembered. When they allowed God in their lives and routines, He always came through. He helped them win those battles.
During the times of forgetting God, the temple priests preached feel-good religion. The priests quit reading the Bible to the people when they visited the temple. The Bible got lost in the shuffle and wasn’t read for years. Oh the joy when they found the Book. When Josiah became king, he commanded the priests to dust it off and read it again. Oh. The change was real. The king and his people repented and enjoyed peace in their land and in their homes and hearts. But when Josiah died, the people forgot God and went back to their old ways.
It makes me wonder. What happens in our lives and homes when we don’t read the Bible? When we put the Bible on the shelf to accumulate dust? How long does it take for us to forget God’s commands and promises? How long before we begin to ignore God’s calling and will for our lives? How long before we no longer talk about God to our children and families?
What do we turn to during our times of trouble if we’re not turning to God and his Word? What stumbling block is in our path if we don’t keep the path to God clear and uncluttered? Who will hold us accountable when we start down the slippery slope?
How does it happen? It’s not an overnight change. It’s gradual. A slow move to accepting. Or thinking. Or acting in ways you once thought repulsive. A giving up. A letting go of values. Beliefs. To accepting the viewpoint you once disapproved. The gradual release of convictions. Of letting inhibitions go.
How do we go back? How do we return to our first love? How do we get back on the road of redemption?
Oh God. Forgive us for not faithfully reading and studying your Word. The lifeline to you. We’ve forgotten it and moved to thinking that being good is good enough. But really. The Good Book needs to be dusted off and placed in the center of our lives.