Onward and Downward…

Thankfully, I have overcome several personal obstacles in my life. Admittedly, it hasn’t been easy at times – I have been successful more times than not, but there is always room for improvement. So, I’m going back to being disciplined in the hopes that I can rack up another victory.

I smoked cigarettes for years and never thought much about it when I was younger but as I grew older I realized that it was healthier to not smoke. Like most smokers, I was addicted and it was no small task to consider kicking the habit.  Finally, I quit smoking on December 31, 1979. It was such a big deal to me at the time that just quitting at the end of the year wasn’t enough. I needed to quit at the end of a decade! And that was the last cigarette I ever smoked. I was 26 and had smoked since I was 17 or 18.

I started in earnest in 1970 when spent the summer in Germany after graduation from high school.  Almost everyone over there smoked and I just picked up the habit. At home, my closest friend was allowed to smoke at home when he was still a somewhat young teenager and at the time, I thought that was pretty cool. So we would hang out and occasionally smoke at his house, with his parent’s knowledge. When that behavior was reinforced in Europe, I was hooked. No excuse – just hooked… in fact, “addicted” is a more appropriate word. I still smoked pipes and an occasional cigar, but that eventually died out as well and I am thrilled to say that I haven’t thought about tobacco in decades.

Then, there was the issue with alcohol. That problem started when I made alcohol for a science fair project in high school. I built a still and did quite a bit of research on the manufacture of alcohol. It started out as a hobby, just to see if I could do it, but eventually I made a little business out of it and sold my output for $4 a pint to local friends who wanted to drink. On hindsight, it wasn’t a smart move, but at the time I considered it an entrepreneurial venture and a good way to make additional money. It grew to be an enterprise – even to the point of having timers on my equipment to go on and off while I was in school.

Unfortunately, although I didn’t consume my own product, I started to drink by the time I spent that summer in Germany. It didn’t stop there and years later my liver function tests confirmed that I was drinking too much. I had to face a crossroads – keep on, knowing that my health was suffering, or give it up. Another challenge!

One day, I just decided that it was time and I quit – cold turkey… That was March 24, 1993 and I haven’t had a drink since. I admit that on occasion the thought crosses my mind that it would be nice to have a drink, but I don’t dare allow myself that luxury. I would be devastated afterward and all the work I have done during the last 38 years would go out the window – I would be starting over again. NOT WORTH IT!

So that brings us to the issue of weight – something that I have struggled with my entire life. Up and down, trying various fads and diets – with varying degrees of success. I think I finally came to the conclusion that you can live without smoking or drinking, but you have to eat and that became the challenge I faced.

Recently, I have become energized about the idea of really slimming down. Our kids have all been successful in this area and my recent blood tests and blood pressure haven’t been as good as I would like. I can say with a high degree of certainty that my body chemistry is changing and the time is NOW to be doing something about it. So, with extreme optimism and having already seen some small success in my latest endeavor, I have committed to go “onward and downward.”

I am proud of so many friends and family who have successfully conquered what I could refer to as “the final frontier” of personal challenges. After all, I have overcome other addictive behaviors and now comes the toughest one for me. The Bible tells us that our bodies are to be a temple and that at the endtimes our bodies will be transformed and we will be given new bodies. In the meantime, I need to do a better job with the body I have.

Our verse for tonight comes from Paul’s first letter to the church at Corinth. Paul reminds us, in 1 Corinthians 6:19-20, “Do you not know that your body is a temple of the Holy Spirit, who is in you, whom you have received from God? You are not your own; you were bought at a price. Therefore honor God with your body.”

My encouragement this evening is that God created us, knew exactly what He was doing, and wants us to do our best to steward the things that he has given us; and that includes our physical bodies. My prayer is that, with God’s help, those of us who have struggled with issues and addictions will be successful in overcoming them. Have a great day in the Lord, grace and peace…


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