The god That Failed Me
In 1979 Dr. Hershel Jick wrote a paragraph about how opioids, when given to patients, were not addictive. Doctors, researchers, pain specialists, and pharmaceutical companies used this paragraph to justify years of unhealthy prescriptions. Years later, the doctor heard his article was being used as a pro for prescribing pain pills and he was baffled. The patients he was referring to in his study were hospitalized cancer patients whose dosage was closely monitored during their hospital stay--not prescriptions. There were YEARS of decisions made by people who believed this doctor’s study to be gospel. Addiction started, chronic pain masked, doctors profiting, holistic treatment decreasing, people dying of over-dose, all because of one man’s words.
That wasn’t the intention of his study. In his mind it was one of the most insignificant studies he conducted. Dr. Jick was completely unaware of the way it was governing the decisions of medical professionals.
In high school I made it plain to my parents that I was going to drink whether they liked it or not. Their solution to manage my rebellion was a rule—I wasn’t allowed to drink unless it was at home with them. What started off as an occasional glass of wine or beer over dinner with my family turned into stealing their Ketel One Vodka in the liquor cabinet because, well, technically I was at home and technically so were they—it felt foolproof. Before I went to parties I chugged their alcohol, hardly ever drinking out, because I knew if I got caught I could argue my point and the consequences couldn’t be too harsh. And so I added this rule to my bible that I obeyed like god.
A friend of mine once shared about his addiction to porn. He told me he couldn’t look at porn the night before one of his basketball games because he thought he wouldn’t play well. Therefore a law is created you follow like god to ensure a blessing.
The gold standard of Christian couples in my hometown had always seemed perfect. One time I heard a scandalous story about “how far they’d gone.” And here they were—married! It all worked out, they’re still Christian, and they have a cute wealthy family. So I added it to my bible and obeyed it like god. As long as I kept up with this law I wouldn’t feel ashamed because, well, it was the standard right?
I got a bracelet at a conference, a gold cuff, that said, “be still”. The conference happened to be at the beginning of baseball season and I wore it to a game. During that game Brian had a flawless inning. So I added this rule to my bible—wear gold “be still” cuff so Brian pitches well.
The reason God talks about not putting anything before Him is FOR US. We become a slave to anything that isn’t God’s love. Why? Because God’s love is freedom. It’s the only thing in existence we don’t have to earn to receive. All of these other gods require us to be perfect to get the good result. Oh and they’re all subjective! You have your own set, like I have mine, and then we stumble into each other’s laws.
This roller coaster of score keeping is the opposite of what God offers us in relationship with Him. If you’re faith feels like the paragraphs mentioned above your god is a handcrafted counterfeit. God is timeless, faithful, and consistent. The god who fails me is the one I create.
The scary part of faith is letting go of the laws that help us survive. We’re like little kids, gripping onto raggedy blankets that make us feel safe, risking all of our security in hopes that the exchange will be worth it. Are our laws shaky at best? Yes, but they give us a feeling of control over our outcomes. When you say yes to God, you have to let all of your laws go and buy a mind-blowing truth: He loves you. He will take your laws and the decisions they led you to make and replace them with the freedom of surrender.
Sometimes we’re like the doctor who wrote the opioids paragraph—misleading the people watching. Sometimes we’re like the hundreds who misunderstood the paragraph—staking our life and well being on quicksand.
The laws we put in place to make us right with God are the things that keep Him at arms length.
Look at your life. What laws govern your relationships and decisions? Are they true and from the Bible? Or are you emulating the behavior of someone whose success you envy?