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Holy Sobriety

“Therefore, with minds that are alert and fully sober, set your hope on the grace to be brought to you when Jesus Christ is revealed at his coming.”
1 Peter 1:13

What keeps you sober? And no, I’m not just talking about abstaining from alcohol (though that could be part of your answer). I’m talking about anything that shifts and skews your perceptions and your thought processes, your feelings and your resolve; things that mean you get fired up about one thing only to find it insignificant when your mood finally changes. It could be alcohol, but it could be coffee, it could be sugar, it could be TV or it could be social media; things that aggravate the drama in us and turn us into reactors rather than actors. As a former high school teacher, I can attest that what we consume does indeed matter: students who eat nutritious breakfasts and lunches find it easier to concentrate in class and to keep their heads when they are challenged—and they are so much easier to teach than those who don’t!

To try to alleviate our “excess baggage” of our sabbatical, Stephen and I spent most of December doing a cleanse that stripped us off most of those food dependencies that mask or disfigure reality—no sugar, alcohol, wheat, dairy or, essentially, anything that tastes good! We went back to basics: fruits, vegetables, some meat and more fish than usual. And, I will be perfectly honest, the detox was a challenge and the road to emotional sobriety was a bit bumpy!

It is January, the more traditional time for diets and detoxes and other forms of resolve. And like the McBays in December, your reason might have to do with your own personal health and circumstances. However, let me invite you to consider the crossover between your physical and your spiritual health. What habits do you have (and perhaps want to break) that might be drawing your gaze away from the hope we have in Jesus? Is it coffee that is contributing to your stress and anxiety that keeps you away from being able to welcome the Spirit of God in you? Is it chocolate or sugar that is numbing pain that you don’t want to face, yet the very pain that God may want to heal? Is endlessly refreshing your news feed or social media page keeping you from feeling feelings of shame or guilt and preventing you from bringing those things to the Cross?

Our minds and hearts and lives can run apace such that we get caught up (even entrenched!) in the weeds of this life, but the hope of the Gospel calls us to look heavenward; to focus our minds on the things of the Spirit and prepare us for when Christ comes again.

I invite you to consider your own walk with Jesus. Where are you being drawn away by drama or dependency today? Where is God inviting you take steps to undo old habits and enter more into the serenity of life that only He can bring?
The Rev. Dr. Suse E. McBay, Ph.D.
Associate for Christian Education and Riverway
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