Cleansing the Heart

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I met a new friend this week; a young man with palpable self-confidence. His demeanor is amazing and his ability to tell the story of his life struggles with a pristine sense of humor was charming. He had been sober for six years and so he shared the story of his battles to overcome drugs and alcohol.

I must confess I am a foreigner to the world of drugs. I hardly like drinking nor do I smoke. Nonetheless, I don’t know why I keep having addicts come to me for spiritual help and prayers, a ministry that is one of my nightmares. Maybe God sees the need to bring healing to them and I happen to be in their path for spiritual support. So, by interacting with them, I am beginning to develop more empathy for their struggles. God cares so much about addicts as he does the sober or the abstinent.

The story of this young man is inspiring. His account of what it took him to be sober was humbling. It was a combination of medical help, systematic withdrawal, and avoidance plus clinical support oiled by divine intervention. I wondered if I could live up to his kind of courage if I were in his shoes. Certain points during his healing process, he claimed to have felt like he was literally dying, because the addiction had made him so dependent that his body seemed to be tearing apart. “Oh my” he recalled, “What have I done to myself?” Many times he wanted to backslide and return to drugs, but because he was constantly monitored he couldn’t. “It was a heck of an experience,” he said. But after the long months, coupled with a deep encounter with God, he was free – he was completely cleansed.

According to him, it was after the cleansing that he realized how much dirt was in his heart, his bloodstream and inside his body. He now feels so light, fresh and free that he alludes living the life of addiction to being in hell. In retrospect he sees the difference because he has been cleansed.

What drugs and alcohol do to an addict is like what evil stuff does in the heart and soul of people. Take for instance bitter resentment, lack of forgiveness, lust, greed, and over-ambition. They simply coagulate, coalesce and congeal in the heart – thus we carry them as a burden, making our hearts bubble within the rough edges of dysfunctional wheels. Release from these burdens is a better choice.

By way of analogy, Jesus cleansed the temple of Jerusalem of it filths as recorded in the Gospel of Luke (19:45-48). There is a temple that belongs within us; it is our body, our soul, and our heart. Detoxification of anything making the heart unhealthy, preventing the freshness of the Spirit is a path to peace.

“How?” one may ask. By opening ourselves to the grace of God, the grace of Jesus, the grace of the Holy Spirit. This really works.

Would you like to join me in praying for all those suffering from different forms of addiction, alcohol, drugs, porn, cyber, etc., as well as all who may have allowed a pattern of life that deprives them of inner joy, causing them to feel like an addict? May the Good Lord grant them freedom. Amen.