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The Power of Addiction (and healing)

In my existence, nothing has touched me more and brought about more healing and intimacy with God than the work of John Eldredge and Ransomed Heart. Here’s a snippet from his first book, The Sacred Romance, that focuses on the addictions (large and small) we all struggle with. I love the fact that in this particular passage he quotes Gerald May, whose book Addiction and Grace literally floors me every time I read it. If you grew up (as I did) in a very rule-oriented and duty-bound religious system, and/or if you grew up in a situation where love was often conditional and/or came with a heavy price to pay, God will use the work of authors and teachers like John Eldredge and Gerald May to make you weep. The tears will be welcome, however, because they are the tears of freedom, understanding and intimacy. I cannot say how many times this has been the case for myself, anyway.

Here’s the passage from The Sacred Romance that moved me so deeply today: 

This is the power of addiction. Whatever the object of our addiction is, it attaches itself to our intense desire for eternal and intimate communion with God and each other in the midst of Paradise – the desire that Jesus himself placed in us before the beginning of the world. Nothing less than this kind of unfallen communion will ever satisfy our desire or allow it to drink freely without imprisoning it and us. Once we allow our heart to drink water from these less-than-eternal wells with the goal of finding the life we were made for, it overpowers our will, and becomes, as Jonathan Edwards said, “like a viper, hissing and spitting at God” and us if we try to restrain it.

“Nothing is less in power than the heart and far from commanding, we are forced to obey it,” said Jean Rousseau.

Our heart will carry us either to God or to addiction. 

“Addiction is the most powerful psychic enemy of humanity’s desire for God,” says Gerald May in Addiction and Grace, which is no doubt why it is one of our adversary’s favorite ways to imprison us. Once taken captive, trying to free ourselves through willpower is futile. Only God’s Spirit himself can free us or even bring us to our senses.

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