Devotional by Ginny Paynter
One hundred and fifty dollars.
$150 is what I spent on cigarettes a month when I was a smoker in college. I started smoking as a way to wash the gross taste of alcohol down when I was out partying with a fake ID. Then one day, I bought a pack of cigarettes in a moment of frustration and outright rebellion, and I smoked a pack of cigarettes a day for the next fourteen years.
When I gave my life to Christ for real in my mid-twenties, I went from smoking a pack a day openly in the parking lot of church to hiding my habit the best I could from friends. I kept on this way for the next ten years into my salvation. Then, a series of events happened that perpetuated my need to quit.
It wasn’t until after I quit however, I realized how much I was in bondage by all that cigarettes required. It dictated where I’d go out to eat – do they have a smoking section? Who I’d ride with – Can I smoke in the car with them? And how I’d interact with others – I can’t hug people because they may smell a whiff of smoke on me. Sometimes, I just left a situation simply out of the need to have a cigarette.
It wasn’t until I didn’t care if people got too close to me, or that I didn’t have an immediate need for gum or body spray or a lighter – it wasn’t until I didn’t have to think of those things that I realized how enslaved I was to my addiction. An addiction I’d claimed to love so much I just didn’t want to quit. Today, I can’t even stand to be next to someone who has recently smoked a cigarette due to the smell.
It’s interesting how retrospection can give you so much clarity over things that present circumstances can blind us to. It wasn’t until I was free from the addiction of smoking I learned that my “freedom to smoke” was more like a dog on a tether, allowed freedom to walk only as long as the lead would allow. I thought I was free, until I learned what freedom really was. “It is for freedom that Christ has set us free.” Christ came simply to set us free for freedom’s sake.
Smoking is a simple clear example of this activation of the word imploring us to “Stand firm, then, and do not let yourselves be burdened again by the yoke of slavery.” Even a single drag was putting a yoke on and attaching that rope to my “freedom.” There are many things I have to release into this truth about the purpose of freedom. Christ came to set me free from cigarettes, but He also came to give me freedom from lies that tell me I’m not good enough, this is all there is; even that I can’t conquer more as I’m called to advance. Do circumstances bind at times? Sure, but we have it in our ability to stand firm and to refuse to wear a yoke of slavery anymore. Devoted conference is such an event where corporately we can step into the freedom of all Christ has for us. We can storm heaven together, hold the hand of the sister on our sides and believe for manifested moments of breakthrough and freedom. It is for freedom that Christ has set us free. It’s our choices to let go of the leashes that lead us in bondage and walk on a new path. It’s there and it’s ripe for our taking.
Galatians 5:1 NIV
It is for freedom that Christ has set us free. Stand firm, then, and do not let yourselves be burdened again by a yoke of slavery.