"Indeed, when I am in really great trouble, as any one who knows me intimately will tell you, I refuse everything except food and drink." Oscar Wilde ‘The importance of Being Earnest’

We are all addicted to something; and when we are hurting we run to it. Each of us have a bottle hidden somewhere in the cupboard of our life that no one knows about except us, or so we think. Oscar Wilde has his, I have mine and you have yours. Now here is the thing: You don’t have to tell anybody. When you’re in trouble you can just run to food or drink or sex or anything else that gives you comfort and helps you feel in control and you do not have to tell a soul. I can say with relative certainty that you will feel better for a while. After all, you can’t control all things in life so you might as well control your intake of a controlled substance.

Now that I aired that out, does it smell like freedom? Here would be the motto: “Do what you please to dull pain and promote pleasure!”

So where do we go from here? How about the Internet? Maybe to Dairy Queen for a large dipped cone? Perhaps the bottle of Glenfiddich? Nope. Sadly, and really gladly, we have to deal with Wilde’s entire quote. Lets start with why we are in trouble and then we can talk about what it means to run to something. Maybe along the way we will stop and chat about who intimately knows us.

Trouble is our middle name. Some of it is self inflicted. Even Jesus said that in this life we would have trouble and He knew what trouble was all about. No one escapes without some problems; strife, pain or anguish and most of us get a lot more than we want. So it would be good for us to learn to expect it and to learn how to deal with it. I often find that trouble comes when I least expect it. In fact that may be lesson number one: expect trouble. For some reason, I let it blindside me and so I often have a delayed response to try and cope with it. I wish I would remember what my driving instructor said when I was 16: “Just remember that every one else on the road is an idiot. They will cut into your lane, brake too quickly and generally try to run over you so drive defensively!” Good lesson. Trouble will come our way. So, perhaps we can now write our thesis as follows, “We will have trouble most every day!” Simple enough and I hope you won’t disagree with it. If so, you can stop reading and enjoy the rest of your trouble free day.

Now if you are still with me, lets talk about running to stuff when trouble comes. I think Wilde overstates the ability of food and drink and understates the complexity of trouble. No doubt, food and drink are great comforters. That is why whiskey and chocolate companies do well in times of recession as well as in times of excess. Food and drink are easy to come by and socially acceptable. But, for the most part people do not know we are in trouble when we drink or eat to excess. Most of us use food and drink as a quick but temporary fix for dealing with our trouble but they really are grammar school comforters. They can only satiate the body in a selected, time limited way. They may temporarily numb the soul, but they cannot sooth it so we must turn to harder drugs to accomplish what we need.

In general terms we run to “not God” to get shelter. By “not God” I mean anything that is not Him. That sounds so simple and tragic but it is amazingly deceptive. We run to success, hoarding, sex, or physical escape in order to alleviate the pain of trouble. We run to what we please. But it turns out it does not please us; motto aside.

The one thing we do not want to do is face it head on. I know a few people who say they like conflict. Most of them a boxers. No one likes conflict. No one wants to go head on and deal with hard issues. All of us would rather take the easy way because the hard way is painful. So, we medicate and avoid. That is not a healthy thing. Over time we get spiritually fat and our soul's arteries harden. Our spiritual and emotional muscles atrophy and we begin to doubt the future possibility of walking again, let along running. Try as we might, avoidance does not work and running to anything other than the problem or a solution only serves to make matters worse. What to do?

Well I suggest taking a bite of a cupcake, having a glass of wine or doing whatever you think will do the trick and then ask your self truthfully, “Is it working?” You know the answer and so do I so we might as well get on with the hard but healthy work of self-examination, of reconciliation and even of repentance.

To do that we will need to engage with someone who knows us intimately. He will tell us. We may need a lot of ground to be uncovered but it is the wise thing to do. Pain now or pain later, but pain will come and from it health can happen if we look to the One who knows us best and cares for us most. The Holy Spirit will enable us to choose health and life and peace. He will help us choose "not other". Then we can be free and forgive. He is the one who knows us intimately and further, He is the one who has seen trouble and dealt with it on our behalf. He calls us to come to Him and He will give us what we need.