Addictions and Total Satisfaction

I’m reading a book right now called Spark written by a medical doctor, on the positive affects of exercise for every single aspect of life. He has been explaining in detail the amazing changes that occur in the brain as we exercise! Several studies and sample cases he tells about in this book, demonstrate the power of exercise to mitigate the effects of chemical disorders such as ADHD and clinical depression, as well as chronic pain issues, and perhaps most amazingly addictions. Some of his examples are a bit extreme, and it feels as if exercise might take over the lives of the individuals in these stories. So at one point he discusses the question, “Can you become addicted to exercise?” From a medical standpoint this is apparently extremely rare, and almost never with adverse side affects, so his answer is, “Maybe, but it’s certainly nothing to worry about.”  

This got me thinking about addiction as a condition of the human existence. At the risk of sounding simplistic, I think we are all addicts. Our nature, created in the image of God was designed for total satisfaction in Him. And when sin entered the world through our forefathers, Adam and Eve, that desire for total satisfaction was turned inward. As a result, we are junkies, seeking the pleasure of self. I don’t mean to overlook the medical qualities of a chemical addiction, or the hormonal imbalances in our bodies that make some of us more prone to that kind of addiction. It’s true that some addictions are worse than others—in how they affect our lives—but ultimately, every addiction has the traumatic consequences of leaving us empty because nothing we try will fill that gaping hole designed for total satisfaction in Him. Add to that the spiritual consequence of being a robber of God’s glory instead of a partaker in it, and it’s obvious that any worldly addiction of any kind is dangerous and awful.

But, since we are created for a total satisfaction in God Himself, can that addictive tendency in all of us be reformed towards desire for him?  Yes! That’s what Paul is talking about when he reminds the Philippians, “It is God who is working in you, giving you the a desire and power to do what pleases Him. A desire that grows the more time we spend with him. A desire that fills us up with joy and satisfaction. A desire that fulfills us. Indeed in Jesus is the only place we can both be fully satisfied and constantly longing for more. That is what the Psalmist is talking about when he says,”As a deer pants for the waters, so my soul longs after you.”

Recently I have experienced this growing satisfaction with continued longing in the area of prayer. About a year ago, I felt the Lord compelling me to sit quietly before him in prayer for just 10 minutes each morning. I am a mover and a doer. I pray constantly, while constantly moving. So even ten minutes of just sitting still in prayer—with no list or required items to pray for—was a challenge. I sat, and I prayed for whatever came to mind, and then I glanced at my watch, and around the room, and then back to the ceiling, and asked, “What else, Lord…” And waited. So for the first month or so I plowed through my ten minutes like this—wanting to obey, wanting to learn, but finding myself losing attention about half way through. Then somewhere along the way—and I honestly can’t say when—I stopped losing interest or running out of things to pray for, and ten minutes seemed hardly enough time to sit quietly with the Lord. So I decided to get up earlier which would allow more time, and then a little more time to sit with Him. Time after time, I have sat in the silence of the early dawn hours, and found that it’s not enough! Ten minutes used to seem like forever! And now triple that is not enough. Fully satisfied and longing for more. That is the beauty of finding total satisfaction in Him. I am still a novice on this journey. I pray and I listen and I learn. And I know it’s not just about more time. I know there’s more. And I’m waiting for that more to be realized. I’m panting for more, even as I drink in the depths of His present work in my life.

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