About every six months, I sit down with the Lord and process through what I believe about drinking, how that holds up against what scripture says about it and what my behavior reflects about my beliefs. In full disclosure, these sit downs often happen after a night of too much alcohol, a night of watching someone else consume too much alcohol or me feeling left out or anxious because I was not drinking as much as the people around me. Drunkenness, however you define it, prevents me from being filled with the Spirit, and is a sin. And all sin is equal. All sin prevents me from experiencing fellowship with Jesus. So during these sit downs, I ask the Lord to remove any condemnation, and simply let me process. I ask myself questions such as: why do I drink in the first place? When do I find myself wanting to drink more than what I usually do? What are some outcomes of drinking more than I usually do? If I heard the Lord ask me to stop drinking today, what would my response be? Who is it appropriate to drink around? If there are people who it’s not appropriate to drink around, am I willing to not drink? Why do I feel awkward not drinking when others around me are drinking? The list goes on and on.
Last weekend, I actually wondered out loud to a friend about some of these questions. While she and I have different experiences with alcohol and different opinions, I left the conversation feeling challenged and freed. Sin is real, it’s not something to be messed around with. As I’ve learned in my own life, sin clouds my judgment, sin makes me question my identity, and sin isolates me from community. I need to constantly run away from sin, not toe the line of how much I can get away with. These truths challenged me.
In the original Hebrew, Israel means “he wrestles with God”. Israel, God’s chosen nation and people, who He named, He named “he wrestles with God.” Some often I can feel guilty about processing through things and having sit downs with God because I can start believing the lie that I must blindly follow. And in some situations, I am called to blindly follow, but in others, I have to wrestle with what surrender looks like in my life.
Let me let you in a secret: when I wrestle through the smaller stuff such as drinking, and the larger stuff, like what calling God has on my life, I’m in good company. The Israelites wrestled. Wrestling and surrender are not mutually exclusive. Just because I’m asking the questions, doesn’t mean I’m not trusting. In fact, in some cases, when the wrestling stops, that’s when sin really takes root. So for all of you wrestling through big & small questions alike, keep wrestling. Turn to the Bible, turn to trusted friends who love Jesus and be willing to go deep in your heart and hear answers that scare you. Just don’t stop wrestling until you come to an answer that will lead to greater fellowship with Jesus. I am meant to experience intimacy with Jesus and to let Him transform me more and more into His image. And perhaps, that means there will be some wrestling along the way.