I had never seriously pondered the mandate in Ephesians to not be drunk with wine. Wine doesn’t even tempt me. But is it possible to become intoxicated with things other than wine? Is it possible that other pleasures could be just as addicting and no less serious than alcoholic beverages? Is it possible that I could become addicted and not even know it? After a recent experience, I began to ponder those questions.
During Christmas break I spent a delightful evening with two dear lady friends of mine. The fellowship that evening was so sweet! When one doesn’t need to measure words and feels fully understood and valued all in one bundle, that is rich! As I crawled into bed that evening, my heart felt full, loved, and deeply satisfied.
The next morning, my mind hugged the warm memories, rehearsing the conversations and the loveliness of being loved, when suddenly, inexplicably, that verse in Ephesians about not being drunk with wine popped into my mind. How does one attempt to describe the work of the Holy Spirit? Regularly He interprets the Word according to how we can understand, just as He did on the day of Pentecost.
I clearly understood how this verse applied to me. I heard it interpreted in my heart along these lines: “Do not be drunk with the wine of sweet human fellowship in such a way that you forget it is Me alone who can satisfy your deepest heart desires.” I repented, not of enjoying the rich fellowship but of wanting to grab it and hang onto it and make it serve me.
It reminds me of C S Lewis’ book, Perelandra, where he speaks of the fallacy of desperately hanging onto those ocean waves of pleasure. As I recall, the Green Lady in the story spoke of the need to receive those waves, enjoy them deeply, and then let them go. The opposite is to cling to them and demand yet more.
I easily identify such moments in the classroom too. Times when things just go so well, I feel appreciated and loved and then I try to duplicate the situation in an attempt to experience that dopamine rush again. It becomes a self-serving addiction.
When I grab onto those pleasures, they in turn grab onto me, and I become their servant, blinded to how I have become drunk on pleasure. May the One whose presence alone brings fullness of joy and at whose right hand are pleasures forevermore grant me the grace to receive His good gifts and then simply release them.
CONTRIBUTOR: Betty Yoder