I was 23 years old. Christ rescued me about 7 years earlier. I was a Christian, and I was a smoker. Some who read this might think, “big deal” – but in my tribe, smoking was a no-no. It was a matter of keeping one’s mind and body pure and holy. But as someone who grew up in tobacco country, and went to church mostly on Christmas and Easter with smoking Christians, I just did not get it. Out of respect though, I did not smoke at the church or in front of church people unless they knew me pretty well, and only at my house. My bride, Angel was the youth leader, so I was very careful around the teens too.
But God starting moving in my heart, causing me to love these teenagers more and more. I began to realize that my life is a testimony to the power of God’s ability to rescue anyone – no matter how bad a person one might be. I realized that a couple of the younger teens were sneaking around and lighting up during youth events. God began to teach me how smoking was a burden and yoke on my life, robbing me of time, attention, and treasure. He began to show me how dependent I was on that next smoke – how it mastered my life. God brought compassion on my heart for these teens, causing me to want better for them.
I hate to admit it, but in my rough life, I had picked up smoking by age 10. Smoking was a habit for me by age 12. By age 23, I was putting away about a pack and a half a day (sometimes more). I had tried to quit for my kids’ sakes many times. I knew God was finally convicting my heart about it, but I knew how deep I was in it, and how impossible it was for me to quit.
Philippians 4:13 – I can do all this through him who gives me strength.
The whole thing haunted me for weeks, until one day at work, at the start of my smoke break, I said, “Fine, God – I’ll do this, but you know I have no strength for it – you’ll have to do it – you’ll have to wipe the urge from me – you’ll have to cure my addiction – and I’ll let you.”
With those words, I snapped the entire pack of cigarettes in half, threw them away, and never smoked again. That was 16 years and 10 months ago.
Making resolutions this year? Resolve to bank on God’s power to keep them, not your own.