It’s 2:16 AM on a Friday morning (although, most sane humans would still consider this to be Thursday night) and I find myself sitting at my desk, wide awake having already attempted sleep for the last few hours. But, not unlike many nights lately, sleep skillfully avoids me like the plague. So here I am… sitting. Bored and annoyed.
This annoyance doesn’t necessarily come from the sheer fact that I can’t sleep but more from the fact that it’s totally my fault since about 4 or 5 hours ago, I found myself sitting in a coffee shop with friends, poring over finance homework, and drinking not one, but two coffees.
You see, unlike some other (more fortunate (lol kidding. but not really.)) people, I am really affected by caffeine at night. And the sad thing is, I know it. I know the minute I have a coffee just a little too late, that my chances of a restful night’s sleep are lost, and yet, I still get myself into this little problem at least once every couple of weeks. I always think, at the time, that these 16 ounces of goodness will totally be worth the hours I lay awake in my bed. Or better yet, maybe this will be the time something changes, right? Maybe the years of overconsumption have finally paid off and I’m suddenly immune.
And so, tonight, when I finally surrendered to the caffeine and got out of bed to attempt to at least be productive in my very-awake state, I reminded myself once again how dumb it was to drink that coffee so late, and next time I for sure would know better. And then it hit me:
My coffee habits and my sinning habits are one in the same.
Okay, so I know it sounds a little extreme, but hear me out…
How many times have you sinned the same way over and over again, because maybe this time it wouldn’t seem so bad? Maybe this time, things would end a little differently? Maybe if you say or do or think that thing that you shouldn’t, this time will be the time you feel better anyways. Maybe you’ll finally feel fulfilled. Maybe you’ll find a little more joy. Maybe your heart will be a little bit fuller and you can ignore the fact that you messed up again, because maybe it’ll just feel really good. Right?
That’s pretty much the exact picture of me so many nights as 9 or 10 o’clock rolls around. The coffee couldn’t hurt too bad this time right? Unfortunately, as I’m sure you can relate, that’s me with so many other areas of my life, too. As much as I wish I could say that my worst sin was equivalent to one too many cups of dark roast in a day, we all know that as people we each struggle with our own darkness that the Enemy really, really loves to get us with.
But how is it so easy to look at something like my bad coffee habit and say, “That is a bad thing. Why would you do that to yourself?? Why would you put yourself through that?? Isn’t it miserable??” How is it so easy to recognize the unnecessary pain and discomfort in something so trivial as a little over-caffeination and so hard to see the real, deep brokenness that comes from a seemingly endless cycle of revisited sin? And why is it that when we do finally see the cracks and the hurt coming through our hearts, we just can’t step back. Why do we tell ourselves that yeah, last time hurt… but this time, this time it’ll be okay. Why do we put ourselves in positions that we know don’t lead us down the straight and narrow? Why do we, almost like clock work, run back to the darkness when the light is shining so brightly in the other direction?
The only answer I have is also my biggest excuse, and although it is true, it is an easy crutch: We’re only human.
And the truth behind those words is living proof that we are not expected to have it all together or to have it all figured out. Since the days of Adam, the Lord has never expected perfection from his children. We are not expected to lead a life as sinless and right as Christ’s. Everyone sins and falls short of the glory of God. It’s how we were created and as long as you come to him and ask his forgiveness, the Father does not keep counts against you.
But, at the same time, to live your life as carelessly and recklessly as you want and following it up with, “It’s okay, I’m only human,” is not the point. Even though since the moment sin entered the world, there has been no escape, we were still created to be Christlike. We were created to strive for that. We will fall down and fail and be really terrible sometimes, but ultimately we were created to be pointed towards the One who put the stars in the sky. Christ is the goal.
I am not qualified or trained or nearly wise enough in any way to give you anything that resembles the key to how to abolish that sinful cycle and lead a totally Christlike life. Honestly I fall on my face attempting to do so more often than I’d like to admit. But what I can tell you is every day, no matter what yesterday looked like, is the day to take one more step away from that thing you fear will always draw you back in. That ugly, life-sucking thing that pulls you away from the Lord is not going to make you feel better. It won’t make you happier. It won’t fulfill you. It won’t bring you joy. It won’t do anything but make you a little more broken and a little more hurt.
Jesus will bring you joy. Jesus will fulfill you. Jesus will flawlessly put back together every piece of your heart that fell ever so slightly out of place. Jesus will make you whole again.
So, put down the coffee cup, get comfortable, and get some sleep.
Because this cycle ends today.