I had come to this place where I felt physically ill when drinking soda, though all the while feeling completely compelled to get my next Coke. I was/am miserable. I crave it first thing in the morning, then as treat in the afternoon and why not just finish off the day with an ice cold cola. I think about how much I love it and then race to my nearest Sonic, but when lift the straw to my lips the taste makes me cringe and I can never put it down. It is never enough. I often think, "How did I get here? I never used to drink sodas".
Anyway, I came across an article that left me speechless...mainly because the author had taken all my words and penned them for me. :) It was so comforting to know someone else out there had the exact same struggle and conquered it. It was also really good to finally call it what it was in my life...an idol that has come between me and my Lord.
Please pray for me as I cling to the Lord for help to lay this down (everything within me is saying, "Don't publish this yet. Just a few more days."). :)
For many years, I was in bondage. It was a subtle bondage, and most people wouldn’t have thought there was anything wrong with what I was doing. However, what comes between my Lord Jesus and myself is bondage.It began innocently enough many, many years ago by simply enjoying a Pepsi with my meal if we went out to eat. After a period of time, probably when we had a little more financial stability, I decided a Pepsi would be a treat when I cleaned house. So I started buying 24 packs of Pepsi at the grocery store enabling me to have a cleaning-day supply at home.
I remember one day when I was pregnant talking to Steve on the phone while he was at work. It was the middle of the afternoon, and I was tired. I told him a Pepsi would be a nice pick-me-up for some extra energy. He said, “Sure. Go ahead.” That one little statement from Steve was all I needed to push my way into having a Pepsi every afternoon—for that caffeine boost.
More time passed, and there was a day when I was weary in the morning. My solution was a Pepsi right then, and before long it was not only an afternoon habit but a morning one as well. If there was a special occasion, Steve might buy me a 2-liter so I could sip on Pepsi throughout the day. When we were out and around, I would get a soda from a convenience store if we stopped for gas or just because it sounded good.
In my mind I justified my Pepsis. I worked hard taking care of a large family and homeschooling. I needed energy boosts, and I felt I deserved a treat. Sometimes the Pepsi was an escape from the pressure and problems of the day rather than turning to the Lord for His comfort.
Are you familiar with the words to the beautiful hymn, “Nothing Between”? It says:
Nothing between my soul and the Savior,
Naught of this world’s delusive dream;
I have renounced all sinful pleasure—
Jesus is mine! There’s nothing between.
Nothing between my soul and the Savior,
So that His blessed face may be seen;
Nothing preventing the least of His favor;
Keep the way clear! Let nothing between.
Nothing between, like worldly pleasure;
Habits of life, tho harmless they seem,
Must not my heart from Him ever sever—
He is my all! There’s nothing between.
There was something between for me. While it appeared to be a harmless habit of life, it had become a sinful, worldly pleasure for me because it had become so important. During the day, I thought about when I would get another Pepsi. I hoped when we were out that we would stop at the convenience store so I could buy a big drink from the soda fountain. If I didn’t have a Pepsi, I’d get a headache so I was always trying to prevent that from happening.
While I greatly enjoyed drinking my Pepsi, I was truly in bondage. I fought spiritual battles over my Pepsi—defending it one moment and feeling condemned the next. I would drink a Pepsi telling the Lord that it would be my last one, but the next day I’d find myself rationalizing it again.
Paul says in 1 Corinthians 9:27: “But I keep under my body, and bring it into subjection: lest that by any means, when I have preached to others, I myself should be a castaway.” Paul understood what was important spiritually, and he took steps to keep his body in subjection. I knew that my body wasn’t in subjection. It was ruling me instead of me ruling it.
I knew the amount of soda I was consuming wasn’t good for my health or my teeth. It was an unnecessary expense, and if I didn’t have a Pepsi, I was guaranteed a caffeine headache. I planned to stop drinking Pepsi many times but would end up deciding I’d wait for another day.
Twice I succeed in getting off the caffeine for several weeks or a couple of months only to end up back on it. I thought I could start drinking the Pepsi again, and keep it in moderation. Although I would begin with small amounts, before long I was back to where I had been before.
I remember a friend telling me about how she had stopped smoking. She was trying to stop but was out gardening when a very strong urge to smoke hit her. She cried out to the Lord and said, “If You want me to stop smoking, Lord, You will have to take this craving from me.” And He did.
I thought to myself. “Lord, if You will do it for her, You can do it for me.” That’s how I started praying. However, in my life the Lord hasn’t zapped me from my sinful directions into a righteous path, although I keep hoping it will work like that. It would be so much easier.
“There hath no temptation taken you but such as is common to man: but God is faithful, who will not suffer you to be tempted above that ye are able; but will with the temptation also make a way to escape, that ye may be able to bear it” (1 Corinthians 10:13). This verse showed me that the Lord doesn’t stop making the temptation a temptation. Rather He provides the way of escape. Then I have to decide if I will take the way of escape or give in to the temptation.
“Neither yield ye your members as instruments of unrighteousness unto sin: but yield yourselves unto God, as those that are alive from the dead, and your members as instruments of righteousness unto God” (Romans 6:13). Here I saw again that I had to make a choice. What would I yield to—righteous or unrighteousness?
In my spiritual battle with my sin, I knew the Lord was telling me the Pepsi had become an idol in my life. That was evidenced by my wanting to stop drinking it but not being able to and by the focus it had taken for me. Finally, the Lord’s conviction of my sin was so strong that I said in my heart, “It isn’t worth it. I don’t want anything between my soul and the Savior.”
I made the decision to stop yielding to unrighteous, and God’s grace was sufficient. “And he said unto me, My grace is sufficient for thee: for my strength is made perfect in weakness. Most gladly therefore will I rather glory in my infirmities, that the power of Christ may rest upon me. Therefore I take pleasure in infirmities, in reproaches, in necessities, in persecutions, in distresses for Christ’s sake: for when I am weak, then am I strong” (2 Corinthians 12:9-10).
On December 31, 2006, I drank my last Pepsi. It was a miserable two days as I suffered through the caffeine withdrawal, but I kept crying out to Him for His grace and strength. The joy I have experienced this past year and a half since being freed me from my bondage is completely worth the discomfort of the withdrawal.
The sodas had become a habit for me. I would drink a soda—when I was happy, when I was sad, in the morning, in the afternoon, on special occasions, when we were running errands—there was almost always a reason to have a soda, and it was all part of the habit of my life. After getting off the Pepsi, when I hit those habitual times, I longed for a soda at first, but every time I put my thoughts on how much I desired the Lord Jesus and how much I didn’t want to be back in bondage. I asked for His help as the days went by. I knew from my previous attempts at freedom that I could justify starting again and soon be back into the old habits.
“I can do all things through Christ which strengthen me” (Philippians 4:13). Experientially, in the release from Pepsi drinking, I found this to be true, but only as I yielded to righteousness and chose to take the way of escape from the temptation. It didn’t happen automatically. The desire wasn’t removed from me. I had to fight a spiritual battle with the help of the Lord Jesus Christ. The way of escape was to care more about the Lord Jesus than about my sinful pleasure.
I want to make it clear as I bring this Mom’s Corner to a close that I am not saying drinking a Pepsi is sin. Instead, I am telling you how something that isn’t inherently sinful in itself became sin for me because of the focus it had taken in my heart. “Whatsoever is not of faith is sin” (Romans 14:23). “Therefore to him that knoweth to do good, and doeth it not, to him it is sin” (James 4:17). I knew the Lord was convicting me that I shouldn’t continue the Pepsi habit in my life. I was aware that it wasn’t pleasing to Him. Yet, for a long time, I allowed my flesh to rule my heart.
I share this story because I know many of those who read the Mom’s Corner are in bondage to something. It might be what others would call sin, but it might be like my Pepsi drinking that no one else would consider wrong. From the moms who share their spiritual struggles with me, I know that this list could include soda, coffee, smoking, other treats, an addiction to the computer or TV, and many others. Each of us knows our own hearts. We are aware of what it is that comes between us and our Savior. Don’t think that because you have tried for freedom before that you just give in to it, live with it, justify it, and say it’s the way you are. I had tried before as well. It took becoming more and more miserable in my sin for me to get to the place where I would choose the way of escape.
My heart’s desire is to encourage each of us to be free. “If the Son therefore shall make you free, ye shall be free indeed” (John 8:36). “For, brethren, ye have been called unto liberty; only use not liberty for an occasion to the flesh, but by love serve one another” (Galatians 5:13). Hardly a day goes by that I don’t rejoice in my freedom and liberty from the flesh. I never want to return to that bondage; the joy of nothing between is too sweet. Would you be free as well?
Written by Teri Maxwell, co-author of Managers of Their Homes, Managers of Their Chores, Keeping Our Children’s Hearts, Just Around the Corner (Vols. 1 & 2), and author of Homeschooling with a Meek and Quiet Spirit.
Teri Maxwell is the mother of eight children and began homeschooling in 1985. Four of her children have graduated from homeschool, and one is married. Teri is a homeschool conference speaker and has been writing monthly articles of encouragement for homeschooling moms since 1990.