A friend recently got me this picture as a get well card. She made me smile and got me thinking.

I smoke and I’m a Christian. I’m a Christian and I smoke. To say I am in a minority is an understatement.

Most of my friends and family know me well enough to know that to judge, disapprove or lecture just doesn’t work. Anyone who knows anything about addiction knows that unless the user literally has enough, reaches rock bottom and personally integrates into their own heart enough ‘cons’ they are not gonna stop doing what they’re doing.

I do not understand what I do. For what I want to do I do not do, but what I hate I do. And if I do what I do not want to do, I agree that the law is good.  As it is, it is no longer I myself who do it, but it is sin living in me. For I know that good itself does not dwell in me, that is, in my sinful nature. For I have the desire to do what is good, but I cannot carry it out. For I do not do the good I want to do, but the evil I do not want to do—this I keep on doing. Now if I do what I do not want to do, it is no longer I who do it, but it is sin living in me that does it. (Paul’s ‘bang on’ description of addiction in Romans 7: 15-20)

Addiction is irrational. As they say in AA, cunning,baffling and powerful.

To stop anything, we need at least to be willing. There are stages of change which include pre-contemplation, contemplation, decision and action. Lightening bolts of divine intervention are  not my experience but I believe they happen. We must want stop doing what we are still doing (that we no longer want to do) and God meets us to provide Grace and healing in our discomfort (that is his speciality). Jackie Pullinger led hundreds of addicts to Christ but only the ones who wanted freedom in the first place.

I’ve met people full of  shame about smoking. Secret smokers who have hidden in garden sheds and lived their lives in misery, concealing their guilty habits from loved ones and friends.

Do i think smoking is big and clever and am I proud of it? No. Do I try to hide the fact that I smoke from others? No

Secrets make us sick.

I’m not saying I don’t feel uncomfortable at times. In recent times pride has kicked in and I may choose to wait an extra half hour when in certain company before having a cigarette. Society has changed and I have changed, smoking is now extremely anti-social and 99% of my friends are non smokers.

Do I plan to give up? Yes.

Am I ready to give it a go? Not quite.

Do I have a relationship with God? Yes

Jesus came to set us captives free.

The Prodigal Son enjoyed the reckless living and partying until reaching his rock bottom. When he returned, his Father was waiting with open arms, threw a party and put a ring on his finger. (Luke 15:11-32) Some of us make many detours on the way home from the party.

God is all about redemption and in our lives we will sometimes require redeeming again and again.

I have been all things unholy. If God can work through me, he can work through anyone. St. Francis of Assisi