There is something absolutely breathtaking about the Fall. Whether it be the smell of burning leaves, sweater weather, pumpkin spice everything, or sounds of the Goshen High School marching band echoing through the numbered streets, life seems to start over when Fall begins.
My favorite thing about Autumn are the colorful trees that align the trails. I could jog for hours admiring the leaves if my legs would allow it. I remember jogging the Pumpkin Vine Trail last year and hearing the leaves crunch beneath my shoes while starring at the scenery God was unfolding before my eyes. After jogging for awhile something struck my mind: these beautiful leaves were dying. This made me wonder: how could death look so beautiful? I started to think about how important Fall is to trees because if there wasn’t a season to let go of what was, how could the trees grow to their full potential in the coming seasons?
Our lives are often times very similar to Fall. Just like how this beautiful season actually brings death, there are points in our lives where we will need to die to our sins in order for us to grow closer to Jesus.
For if you live according to the flesh, you will die; but if by the Spirit you put to death the misdeeds of the body, you will live.
Although not all of us agree that change is good in every situation, we can agree that it is uncomfortable. I’ll never forget the moment I decided to quit drinking alcohol. I had been relying on alcohol to bring me out of stress, bring me happiness, and to help me forget all my burdens. Now, some people believe drinking alcohol is not a sin. However, in my life, I felt the sting of conviction on my heart ever since I took my first sip at the age of sixteen. After years of drunken nights, I finally decided to listen to my conviction. I stopped drinking alcohol and chose to give it to Jesus. It was at that moment that I was entering into a season of change.
Dying to sin does not come naturally. After we’ve decided to give our sins, burdens, bad habits, or old lifestyles to Jesus, we go through a season of temptation. I wish I could tell you that giving up addiction, bad habits, or old lifestyles are easier than it seems, but it’s not. I knew that just because I chose to die to my sinful drinking habit, that didn’t mean my friends or family were going to. For months I hesitated on ordering a drink with dinner, or grabbing a drink at a family gathering. I felt like alcohol was everywhere. “It’s just one drink.” Everyone would say to me. “You don’t have to get drunk.” Or my personal favorite, “Jesus turned water into wine.”
I wanted to tell them 1 Peter 5:8, which says, “Be sober-minded; be watchful. Your adversary the devil prowls around like a roaring lion, seeking someone to devour.” Or Ephesians 5:18, “And do not get drunk with wine, for that is dissipation, but be filled with the Spirit.” But it didn’t matter what I said because they didn’t understand my conviction and honestly, at that time, I didn’t either.
It’s important that you don’t listen to what you want to hear. People will tell you anything to lessen their own convictions. But Jesus’ Spirit will always point you toward truth, even when it’s uncomfortable. This is why it is very important to make sure the Bible is your final authority to every and any decision in your life and not other people’s opinions.
Sometimes I’d hear a tiny voice telling me to stop acting perfect. Stop trying to be better than everyone and just act normal. But I knew that was the devil tempting me back into my old ways, my old sin, my old mindset. There were nights that I would pray for my temptation with alcohol to go away. The more I prayed about being stronger than my temptation, the less temptation I’d feel.
No temptation has overtaken you that is not common to man. God is faithful, and he will not let you be tempted beyond your ability, but with the temptation he will also provide the way of escape, that you may be able to endure it.
-1 Corinthians 10:13
After I went through months of temptation, I went into an awkward season of ‘what now?’ When you are doing something for so long, whether it’s for fun, for a stress reliever, to block out pain, to forget mistakes, or whatever else, there comes a point when you say what do I do now? During this season it was important for me to find other things I was interested in. I had a lot of anger inside me that triggered my temptation with alcohol, so I chose an activity that was physical, like jogging, to help release my emotions. It was an interesting lifestyle change. I used to wake up with a hangover on Sunday morning, and now I was waking up early on a Sunday to go on a three mile jog.
It has been eighteen months since I’ve had a sip of alcohol. I’m finally in a season where the very sin that held me back, Jesus has used to help change me into a better person. Jogging is very important to me now, and has not only helped me emotionally but it’s also where most of my blog ideas and bible study ideas come from. I believe Jesus not only set me free from my sin but has used it to open many doors to reach others about faith.
And we know that in all things God works for the good of those who love him, who have been called according to his purpose.
If you are reading this blog and feel like Jesus is calling you to a deeper level with Him but you know you have sin to die to, I encourage you to take a step of faith today and choose the better route. Choose Jesus! If you’re thinking you’ve done too much damage and there’s no way you can be redeemed, I’m here to tell you that Jesus died by shedding His blood on the cross so you didn’t have to live another day feeling ashamed! Give up your sins! Repent of all your mistakes! Release guilt and grab ahold of redemption! Letting go of what’s comfortable is hard, but it’s worth it! And it all begins with a season of change.