I scream, you scream, we all scream for ice cream!
(Harry Reser’s Six Jumping Jacks, 1928)
For what do you scream?
I took up the habit of smoking cigarettes when I was in college. I was under stress; it was during finals week. We were staying up late, studying, drinking coffee and cola. The cigarettes became a welcome accompaniment. Little did I know back then of the addictive properties of nicotine. After seven years of inhaling that weed, God took it away from me. Although I no longer smoked, I replaced that habit with eating candy. Penny candy, little Tootsie Rolls, Kraft caramel fudgies. The local 7-11 became my source of sugar. There was not a candy dish that I passed, that I did not gobble up a few sugar delights. After viewing a television advertisement, I realized that candy ‘had’ me; I did not ‘have’ it. I prayed to God for over a year to take away this compulsion to consume candy. Finally, He helped me. He gave me the strength to abstain from the compulsion, one day at a time. He has helped me to do this action for almost thirty years. All glory goes to God.
I never realized that I craved something to fill a void that only God could fill. Webster’s defines the word crave as to beg, to demand, to yearn for greatly, to covet, to have a strong desire. All of us have yearnings; all of us have desires. Some of our desires are wonderful; a desire for upright living, a desire to see good and prosperity to come to our families; a desire for good health. Even the United States Constitution states that “all men are created equal, that they are endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable Rights that among these are Life, Liberty and the pursuit of Happiness.”
My desires turned into cravings when my pursuit of happiness turned into pursuit of sugar, pursuit of nicotine. It was not even the element that I was pursuing but the blindness that came over me as I was pursuing this element. I lusted after sugar. I never realized that I actually lusted for this element. I just wanted the next candy. I used candy as an avoidance action. Candy numbed my inner feelings. It was easier to eat over an issue than to face it and deal with it.
Psalm 78:18 says “And they tempted God in their heart by asking meat for their lust.” Although I found comfort in this verse, to know that I was not so different than my ancestors, I still had no peace. Knowing that lust has you is not a good place. I never realized that I was tempting God in asking Him to help me feed my lust. I never realized how I sold myself short in coveting. Consuming sugar blinded me; it helped me to cover up anxiety. I never realized that sugar was actually feeding my anxiety. I was running from reality; using an element only pushed me farther away from the reality of confronting my own lack, my inadequacies and leaning on God’s adequacy.
I tried to justify my actions by calling this sugar addiction ‘my thorn’. Paul had an unmentioned thorn in the flesh. Couldn’t this be my thorn in the flesh? By thinking this though, I consoled myself that I was unable to overcome this addiction. Some would call this “stinkin’ thinkin’’. When you are in the midst of a sugar high, you do not think correctly. This element ‘had’ me. When I was a child, turning to food was a consolation. Being fed was comfort; it made me feel safe. But feelings of anxiety do not disappear because one has just eaten an entire bag of Werther’s toffee candy. Anxiety deepens.
It took an act of God to pull me from the pit. At the point of salvation, the LORD plucked me from a deep pit of mire, and yet His deliverance continues in my life to this very day. God helped me to see that I was running from Him, the Living Bread, the Lekhem Khyeem. He is the Staff of life; all that I needed for daily nourishment is found in Him. As Psalm 23:3 says “He restores my soul”. HE returned me to clear thinking. HE gave me the ability to abstain from the cravings within. HE helped me to turn aside from the cravings, the indulgence. When the thoughts came upon me that I could eat just one piece, it was HE, the Living Manna, who encouraged me to take every thought captive to Yeshua, to the Messiah, to not dwell or allow my mind to linger on the substance. Victory came, one moment at a time, one day at a time, and one year at a time. Sometimes those moments were as “white knuckling’ moments, my hands were grasped so tightly that my knuckles were white. But that moment passed, victory came.
Sugar, abundance of food, nicotine, other substances, gambling, over-spending, and so on – none of these items satisfy. There is only One who satisfies and His name is Jesus. He is the Living Bread who came from Heaven; He is the ONLY bread that came from Heaven (not from earth). Because of His heavenly source, only He satisfies.
For He satisfies the longing soul,
And fills the hungry soul with goodness.