It seems October is the month for many initiatives. Not only do we celebrate Black History Month, October is also dubbed ‘Stoptober” month.
During ‘Stoptober’ smokers are encouraged to make an attempt for the month of October to give up smoking. The intention is that, if you can refrain from smoking for 28 days you’re more likely to give up forever.
How many of us are able to give up an addiction so easily?
Coming out of church one Sunday, I suddenly noticed a couple of people rushing to light up a cigarette the minute they walked out of church.
I remember the first time I noticed a friend of mine, who’s a longtime Christian smoking. For me as someone who grew up in the old fashion traditional church, smoking was a no, no for ALL Christians. In those days, I thought that as soon as you became a Christian, you stopped doing all those ‘sinful’ things, like drinking, smoking etc. I was under the impression that by some miracle you no longer did anything ‘of the world’! It just all simply dropped away from you.
For this reason, as an adult, whilst I never smoked, I did enjoy having a drink with friends, – I can say, I was never one who drank until I was drunk – but I did enjoy a social drink. This vice, I believed meant I could not become a Christian unless I was willing to stop immediately despite knowing for some years that God was calling me.
For this reason, and others of course, although I enjoyed going to church, I stopped short of accepting Christ as my Saviour. I remember in 2013, when I finally accepted the call, one thing stood out for me, in that sermon the Pastor said, “Come as you are”!
Those four words spoke to me. The preacher went on to say, God is calling you ‘as you are’. He will let the Holy Spirit change you. As with any addiction, you need help to change, you do not just stop or change overnight. As a Christian, the Holy Spirit is your support network.
At Pollards Hill Baptist church our pastor has recently launched a programme called ‘The Barnabas Programme’. This is an initiative where new Christians get the help and support they need from other established Christians acting as mentors to help them deal with some of the challenges they will face on their Christian journey.
In the case of accepting Christ into your life, if you’ve been fighting the call for years because you feel there are things in your life which are not ‘perfect’, remember, “Come as you are”, allow the Holy Spirit to work within you. Lean on your church family. They will help you as you open up to the Holy Spirit.
Hebrews 2:18 says: “Because he himself suffered when he was tempted, he is able to help those who are being tempted.” This may not immediately tell you that it is OK to be imperfect, but for me what it says is that Jesus understands what it means to be tempted, to do things which are not always the way of the Lord.
It says he will help me and the way he does this is through the Holy Spirit. If I allow the Holy Spirit to guide me, over time, I will be able overcome these addictions.
This week in church, a number of people were baptised. What a celebration not only for the individuals themselves, but for all children in Christ. As the choir sang, “I give myself away and I surrender all …”What I would want to say to each of them is, this is the start of your journey. You will falter, you will find there are many things you have difficulty giving up, surrendering, – but hold fast to your faith, stay focus on the ultimate goal. Lean on your Mentor, you cannot do it alone.
Be open to all the help and support which are there to aid you throughout your journey. If there was a “Barnabas Programme”, when I first accepted the Lord, it would have made my Christian life so much easier. It would have enabled me to fully commit to my spiritual growth without some of the doubts I experienced. I am a work in progress, as are we all. We must surrender all no matter the challenges we face.
As the song says, based on Romans 8:28 “All things are working for my good, it’s intentional …..” God never fails us.
What will you be stopping this month?