I was talking to a newcomer in our ministry the other day. He called because he was having some struggles and wanted to talk. Unfortunately, he was in the post-struggle regret stage, a stage I'm highly familiar with. For me, it would go like this: I'm stressed. I'm going to have a beer. One more sure would taste good. Hmm, that fourth beer sure was good, maybe I should go to the store before I run out. Humph? Is that the alarm? Is it morning already. Oh, my head. Why did I do that? God, forgive me. Forgive me for being stupid.
Then, it started going like this: I'm stressed. I'm going to have a beer. One more sure would taste good. Oh, no, I'm doing it again!! God, forgive me.
Then, I'm stressed, God forgive me for what I'm about to do!
Then, God help me with this stress.
This guy who I was talking to... I'll call him Mortimer since I don't know any Mortimers... well Mortimer, in one particular struggle, got God involved right in the middle. In another struggle, he didn't involved God until the next day.
This is like me. I'm not necessarily an alcoholic, and most of the time, I could have one or two and that's that. But, I couldn't predict the times I'd take it too far. I had to stop altogether. It was the only reasonable solution for me (not saying this applies to everyone). But, now when I feel like having a beer, I involve God right away. Right now, before anything else... God.
If only I did that with everything. The other day I bought a couple new disc gold discs (A 175g Monster and a 175g Roadrunner). I took them to Live Oak park, chock full of disc-stealing oak trees. On my first real throw with the new Monster, I put it in a tree, but I couldn't even tell which tree (there were so many options). So I hunted and hunted, unwilling to part with the $16 disc, but having a time limit (going swimming with the family in 30 minutes...). I got so frustrated I was tossing stuff around and acting like a jerk -- I was alone, except for God, so I "wisely" involved God in my jerkness. Well, suffice to say I eventually asked for forgiveness, but it was afterwards. It was a minor, stupid thing, but clearly while I have learned to involved God in the beer part, I haven't in the frustration part. Part of it is my mood, my state-of-mind, but while talking with Mortimer, I came up with this little graphic in my mind:
I think this applies to all of us, with each of our unique struggles. Maybe it's lust for you, or finances, addiction, abusiveness, laziness... whatever, if you can get God involved earlier ("Before" is ideal) then I believe you'll see some big improvements in your life.