I once worked all day at a casino in St. Louis, went to the bar with co-workers afterwards and then convinced several of them to go to a casino in Mississippi with me for the weekend. I had no money to take myself. I was broke. Yet, I convinced a friend to loan me $500 to gamble with.
We went and stayed at a hotel in Tunica. I traveled without a bag and was wearing my work pants and a shirt I borrowed from someone else on the trip. I decided not to get a room because that would take away some of my gambling money. And since I didn’t have a room, I also didn’t sleep.
Thirty-six hours later, I had lost that money and more. I was completely exhausted and my shoes had a hole in them. We drove home in a storm so bad the rain would occasionally cover the windshield so heavily that we couldn’t see the road. I was unbothered by this. I was sitting in the middle backseat stuck between two other friends as the five of us inched our way back home on the highway. They said I slept soundly and snored loudly on the five-hour ride home.
That’s what I did best when I was in the depth of my gambling addiction. I slept. I slept because I was exhausted. I also slept to forget. I slept to pretend my life wasn’t happening the way it was. I slept to find peace, however, peace was fleeting because the moment I woke up after nights like these my mind would fill with the thoughts of all the damage I had caused myself.
I would think about the money I owed my friends. I would worry about the rent payment that was due in eight days. I would consider, “How could I pay back my friend and my rent?” Then I would think about the pay day loans I had at establishments across town and knew that my check that wasn’t coming till next Friday wouldn’t be enough to pay all my debts.
There were other times when I faced trouble like that that I would get paid and go to the casino and try and win enough to pay all the debts. Sometimes it worked, more times than not, however, it didn’t and I usually found myself in a worse position than I was hours previously.
Sleep. My one refuge in the storm of chaos that was my life before Christ.
What would motivate a person to live like this? What would motivate me to continually make the worst choices possible? What would cause me to continue this behavior for a decade?
But each person is tempted when he is lured and enticed by his own desire. Then desire when it has conceived gives birth to sin, and sin when it is fully grown brings forth death. James 1:14-15
My own desire brought forth death. Even though I was alive, the story I just told you was what death looks like. A person who is unable to make wise choices or care for themselves in a manner that promotes longevity has succumb to sin in their hearts. Death brought on by chasing our own desire may not be a natural death, but the death of your relationships, your hope and your future.
I had no hope and no future. My desires were not for the hope of Christ. I desired to live my own life and fulfill my own desires instead of seeking the desires of God and finding fulfillment through Him.
What motivates you today? What results are you consistently seeing in your own life? What are you hoping will happen in your future? If you could have anything you desire, what would it be?
Would that thing bring only you joy or would it satisfy joy in others as well?
The above scripture from James highlights what the results of chasing our own desires will look like. Thankfully, James also shares how to save ourselves from those results.
So get rid of all the filth and evil in your lives, and humbly accept the word God has planted in your hearts, for it has the power to save your souls. James 1:21
The questions to the answers in your heart are found in God’s word. Don’t continue to watch your life die in front of you. Don’t sleep on this news. Peace is not found in sleep, but through the word of God. Find the hope and future you desire. Desire the fire of God.
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