Do you ever find yourself craving something?
Usually, people have cravings for certain foods, activities, or music, depending on whatever mood they’re experiencing. Most people live off of coffee, tea, or energy drinks; but my main caffeine source comes from soda. Since a very young age, I have loved the bubbly, fizzy, sweet taste of carbonated liquid sugar, equating its delightful properties to a magic potion. Being very imaginative, I always like to pretend that the soda I’m drinking is a special substance found only in fairy tales, such as a divine nectar produced by fairies. Aside from the fantasies of my mind, my soda addiction certainly isn’t helped by the prolific advertising campaigns of the mass corporations that market my favorite brands. Almost everywhere you go, you can find the logo of my favorite sodas plastered across billboards, race cars, posters, t-shirts, and a large variety of other media serving as a commercial canvas.
However, one day I noticed a significant difference.
As a teenager, whenever I was thirsty, a can of my favorite soda was my go-to beverage of choice. Like most other young adults, I could bond with other teens my age through a mutual love of the same sodas, even if we had nothing else in common. Being a rabid fan of a specific brand of soda meant that you were cool, since that’s what everyone else was drinking. Several years later, I was a sophomore in college at home during Christmas break, reveling in my favorite food and drinks that I had been deprived of during the previous semester. I took a drink of one of my favorite sodas, and noticed something different that I had never been aware of before – even though liquid entered my mouth, it still felt dry and sticky, with my thirst unsatisfied.
I realized that no matter how many drops of soda I drank, my thirst would ultimately never be quenched, because the caffeinated contents were dehydrating my body. As most health experts will tell you, soda consumed in large quantities can have quite a damaging effect on your body. Without turning this post into a nutrition or diet-themed lecture, I will simply state that from that day forward, I made a solid decision to drink less soda than I had been all the previous years of my life. I am currently trying to make water my main source of hydration in an effort to be healthier and improve my quality of life. Sometimes, I tend to relapse and find myself drinking lots of soda all over again; but when that happens, I try to turn myself around right back where I left off, forcing my brain to choose only water when it recognizes that I am thirsty.
In a similar way, my struggle with soda can be compared to putting aside the flesh.
Every person who has ever existed came into this world with desires. No matter how many desires people have, or what type of desires they may be, all of us are connected by one single desire –
God created us with an inherent need for fulfillment because he wanted His creations to be drawn back to Him, no matter how far they might stray. If we were all made to be self-sufficient, we would have no need for God whatsoever; but the truth is that we are incapable of being self-sufficient. You see, the very fact that we were created by God means that we are dependent on Him: we cannot even have life at all without Him. Those who choose to deny this biblical truth and advocate the atheistic doctrine of evolution instead are only fooling themselves, preferring to live in darkness instead of light.
At the end of a long day at work, most people will automatically turn to their favorite interests and hobbies to relax themselves, wanting to think about as little as possible. Christians are no exception, as I am prone like others are to immediately engage myself in electronics, television, books, or literally anything else besides reading my Bible and praying. It is indeed a natural instinct to do so, since the flesh always demands to be satisfied before anything else. However, there have been many nights that I have sadly discovered that I have neglected to spend time with the God Who loves me far more than I could ever deserve. I lie down in my bed to rest before the next day, and then I suddenly realize that I have left no part of my day reserved for acknowledging God.
The problem lies in misplaced priorities and misunderstanding.
Just like my addiction to soda, our tendency to put self first and God last comes from being ignorant about what is truly good for us. In our flesh, we think that we can satisfy ourselves by doing whatever we feel like at any given moment, when in reality we are just perpetuating a vicious cycle. God designed us to need Him, and the more we keep ignoring that need, the more we’re going to feel a gaping hole inside of us. There is an intrinsic void that only He can fill inside of every human being, whether saved or unsaved. We were created for God’s pleasure, and we were meant to spend time with Him to give us our much-desired fulfillment. When we do spend time with Him, we can discover that we have been depriving ourselves of what was meant to be ours the whole time – lasting peace and contentment.
The solution can be achieved through a method of replacement.
The first step I took in overcoming my addiction to soda was replacing the urge to drink it by choosing water instead. Likewise, the most effective way to overcome the natural, selfish instincts of the flesh is by replacing them with spiritual activity, such as praying and reading God’s Word. To help myself make spending time with God a priority, I’ve been trying to set aside time for Him immediately after I come home from work. That way, my heart and my mind can be refreshed through the replenishing waters of God’s presence. Instead of choosing to surf the internet or play games with no point to them, my mental energy has a redirected purpose when I decide to spend time getting to know God better. I realize that all of us are different, so some people might prefer to take a different approach that works better for them; and that is totally fine. However, I would encourage you to use this strategy: Whenever you are inclined to do something else with your free time, spend time with God first. That way, you will not be filling up on emptiness, but instead the rest of your day will have meaning and purpose.
Here are God’s Words to encourage you to fill yourself with Him regularly:
John 4:13-14 ~ “Jesus answered and said unto her, Whosoever drinketh of this water shall thirst again: But whosoever drinketh of the water that I shall give him shall never thirst; but the water that I shall give him shall be in him a well of water springing up into everlasting life.”
Jeremiah 31:25 ~ “”For I satisfy the weary ones and refresh everyone who languishes.”
Psalm 17:15 ~ “As for me, I will behold thy face in righteousness: I shall be satisfied, when I awake, with thy likeness.”
Psalm 63:1-5 ~ “O God, thou art my God; early will I seek thee: my soul thirsteth for thee, my flesh longeth for thee in a dry and thirsty land, where no water is; To see thy power and thy glory, so as I have seen thee in the sanctuary. Because thy lovingkindness is better than life, my lips shall praise thee. Thus will I bless thee while I live: I will lift up my hands in thy name. My soul shall be satisfied as with marrow and fatness; and my mouth shall praise thee with joyful lips:”
Isaiah 55:1-2 ~ “Ho, every one that thirsteth, come ye to the waters, and he that hath no money; come ye, buy, and eat; yea, come, buy wine and milk without money and without price. Wherefore do ye spend money for that which is not bread? and your labour for that which satisfieth not? hearken diligently unto me, and eat ye that which is good, and let your soul delight itself in fatness.”
Ephesians 3:19 ~ “And to know the love of Christ, which passeth knowledge, that ye might be filled with all the fulness of God.“
Ecclesiastes 4:16 ~ “There is no end of all the people, even of all that have been before them: they also that come after shall not rejoice in him. Surely this also is vanity and vexation of spirit.“
Romans 8:19-20 ~ “For the earnest expectation of the creature waiteth for the manifestation of the sons of God. For the creature was made subject to vanity, not willingly, but by reason of him who hath subjected the same in hope,”
Jeremiah 2:5 ~ “Thus saith the Lord, What iniquity have your fathers found in me, that they are gone far from me, and have walked after vanity, and are become vain?“
Acts 14:15 ~ “And saying, Sirs, why do ye these things? We also are men of like passions with you, and preach unto you that ye should turn from these vanities unto the living God, which made heaven, and earth, and the sea, and all things that are therein:”
Psalm 42:1-2 ~ “As the hart panteth after the water brooks, so panteth my soul after thee, O God. My soul thirsteth for God, for the living God: when shall I come and appear before God?”
Ephesians 4:22 ~ “That ye put off concerning the former conversation the old man, which is corrupt according to the deceitful lusts;”
Galatians 5:16-18 ~ “This I say then, Walk in the Spirit, and ye shall not fulfil the lust of the flesh. For the flesh lusteth against the Spirit, and the Spirit against the flesh: and these are contrary the one to the other: so that ye cannot do the things that ye would. But if ye be led of the Spirit, ye are not under the law.”
Canning our cravings will always be a work in progress.
While it is possible to permanently change physical habits over a period of time, changing our spiritual habits will always be a struggle. However, I do not say this to discourage you; but rather to encourage you to always rely on God for His help. Remember, we can do all things through Christ Who strengthens us. Overcoming the natural cravings of the flesh by replacing them with spiritual habits is expected to be challenging, thus emphasizing how much we really do need God in our everyday lives. Just keep in mind that achieving success in anything we desire is dependent on keeping a positive mindset. Whenever you need help in this area, remember that God is always just a prayer away. He is more than happy and willing to give you the victory in overcoming the flesh with the spirit. I am still learning to kick the proverbial soda can on all of my bad habits, both physical and spiritual. If I can learn how to change my ways with God’s help, then I know that you can too.
– Gloria D. Hopkins