In his recent book the Soul of Desire, Curt Thompson makes reference to four questions God asks in the Bible. Many of us think of ourselves as the ones with questions, but the questions God asks always go to the heart of the issue. Let’s address each one in terms of recovery.
1. Where are you? Genesis 3:9. God asks this question of Adam and its always a good one. Not “How are you?” but “Where are you? Try it on your friends. Then listen to their response. “Tell me about the landscape of your life? What’s going on? How are you feeling these days? What are you most curious about or troubled about?” Many men have no idea where they are because we spend a lot of time running from our feelings and burying ourselves in activity, technology, sports or other interests. In relation to addiction, we may be running away due to shame, secrecy, isolation or a combination of these. But taking the time to reflect, journal, pray and speak to a therapist, friend or recovery brother about “where we are” right now is never a bad idea. Apparently God thought so too. He asked it directly after “the fall.” If there was ever a “time to talk” in world history, it was then.
2. What do you want me to do for you? This question arises in Jesus encounter with “Blind Bartimaeus.” (Mark 10:46-52) Whether Jesus knew Bart was blind or not prior to their encounter, he asks him the above question. Apparently putting our requests into words matters. Bart had thrown off his cloak, the one that no doubt kept him warm as he begged by the road side. Perhaps he was comfortable in his usual spot. Did getting well mean leaving his familiar spot and getting out into the stream of life? He replies to Jesus’s question in specificity, “I want to see.” Recovery asks us to name what we want. Some want to get fixed in a few weeks by attending a few meetings, or learn some principles and return to their former life or to keep their options open when it comes to acting out. Others want to ‘save their marriage” or finally become free. But God wants to know what we are really after. Can we look directly at Him and tell him? That takes courage and honesty.
The passage indicates that Bart may never have returned for his cloak but instead ‘followed Jesus along the road.” The comfortable cloak of our addiction needs to be left behind. Do we want that? Not everyone is ready. Some need more pain as a convincer. God wants to know. And we need to know so we can walk an honest path.
3. Whom do you seek? John 18:4, 6. Jesus asks this question twice of Judas and the soldiers in the garden just prior to his arrest. Our drives say a lot about whom we are seeking? Is it the “next one” we believe will save us? A woman or a man or the image of one? Is it someone in power that if we can just stand next to them, that will fix us? Or do we seek the God who made us, loves us and has redeemed us? The one our lust is really looking for. Whether sacred or secular, man is truly “religious” about following something or someone. As John Calvin said, “the human heart is an idol factory.” We will resemble the one we follow. Whom do you seek? And how diligently are you seeking?
4. Do you want to be healed? John 5:2-8 This is the story of the man at the Pool of Bethesda. You know the story. The man has been lying there for 38 years, equipped with all the excuses about not being fast enough when the waters are troubled. So why would Jesus ask him this question? Because change is difficult. Because being well means resuming a healthy life, taking responsibility, getting a job, becoming a contributing member of society, letting sick habits and relationships go. Sickness is often easier and much more comfortable and familiar. Being well is harder. In sex addiction recovery, we talk often about the need to be desperate, about “until we wanted to stop but could not” or nearly losing everything before our disease got our attention. It’s true. There is a price to healing and our own “enlightened self interest” can tell us whether we are willing to pay it or not.
As we approach the new year, these are healthy questions God asks of each of us. Answering them honestly and with the help of others is a good place to start or continue the path to freedom.
I find these questions both enlightening and challenging. As you enter a new year, how are you answering them for yourself?
In the Lust-Bearer,
Jay Haug, Executive Director
Living Without Lust Inc.