By Pastor James Exline
“I’m an adult, and I’ll do what I want.”
“No one is going to tell me what to do.”
How many times have you said either one of these statements? Maybe now you’re even saying or thinking them.
You’ve gone to treatment, you’ve been told what works and you know what you should do. However, there’s just one problem—free will. Free will is defined as a voluntary choice or decision, the ability to act at one’s own discretion.
Exercising Our Free Will
Free will is what sets us apart from animals; we are the only creation that God gave free will to. It is a blessing, and it can be a curse. How we use it determines so much in life and in recovery.
Those statements at the beginning, they are examples of us exercising our free will. Deciding what we want, what we are willing to do and what we are not willing to do is all a part of free will. Let’s look at free will in the Bible, in the life of my sibling and in your lives, especially in recovery.
There Was One Rule
The very first time we see free will as a bad thing, or as a curse, is with Adam and Eve in the Garden of Eden. Many of you know the story. God creates man. Adam and Eve live in the garden in a perfect world—no sickness, no physical or emotional pain, no addiction, no problems whatsoever. Adam and Eve have perfect relationships—with each other, and with God. Life is perfect, and they have free will. Eventually, that free will becomes their downfall.
God had one rule, one restriction—don’t eat from one tree. That’s it, it was that simple. Use free will to obey God and live, use it to do what they wanted, their way, and die. They decided what God said was not true, and that their way was better than God’s way. How crazy is that?
Witnessing Free Will
My younger brother was diagnosed with diabetes several years ago. That was a life-changing, life-threatening diagnosis. His life would never be the same, and free will would determine which way his life would go. He had two choices. He could use his free will to do the right things: change his diet, faithfully check his sugar levels, take the appropriate medicines, and live. Or he could decide not to do any of those things, and get sicker and sicker, and possibly die.
He chose poorly. He decided he didn’t want to be told what to do, what he could do and what he shouldn’t do. He used his free will, just like Adam and Eve, to do what he wanted, what he felt like. How crazy is that?
You probably know the outcome. Fortunately, he hasn’t passed away, but I fear that he will in the very near future. His health has deteriorated to the point that he looks more like a corpse than a living person.
Free Will in Recovery
If you are in treatment or recovery, you, like my brother, have been diagnosed with a disease—addiction. It too is a life-changing and potentially life-threatening disease.
Just like Adam and Eve, just like my brother, you have free will, and how you use it will determine the outcome of your story as well.
You have been told what works, what you should do in order to stay sober. You know what you need to do, and you have free will. How are you going to use that free will? Will you do the rights things—get a sponsor, work the steps, go to meetings, surrender to God and ask him for his help in your fight against addiction? Or, are you going to use your free will to decide that no one is going to tell you what to? Will do what you want and decide what’s best for you? Many people, just like Adam and Eve, just like my brother, have decided to use their free will to do exactly that. They do what they want, instead of doing what they know will help them stay sober. Crazy, isn’t it?
Free will can be your greatest blessing or your worst nightmare, which one is up to you. The outcome of your story is still being written, and your free will is going to dictate the final copy. Use it wisely and live; use it poorly, and possibly die.