” . . . miserable and sorry . . .”

Show me people who drink too much, who have to try out fancy drinks, and I will show you people who are miserable and sorry for themselves, always causing trouble and always complaining. Their eyes are bloodshot, and they have bruises that could have been avoided. Don’t let wine tempt you, even though it is rich red, and it sparkles in the cup, and it goes down smoothly. The next morning you will feel as if you had been bitten by a poisonous snake. Weird sights will appear before your eyes, and you will not be able to think or speak clearly. You will feel as if you were out on the ocean, seasick, swinging high up in the rigging of a tossing ship.  ‘I must have been hit,’ you will say; ‘I must have been beaten up, but I don’t remember it. Why can’t I wake up? I need another drink.’” (Proverbs 23:29-35)

I love those puzzles where they show you a picture and then ask, “What is this?”  Maybe I just created one.  Can you guess?  Rather then waste too much of your time, I’ll tell you.  My photo shows our driveway with the remains of Sunday’s snow beaten up by Monday’s rain.  “Beaten up” seems like a good topic for Lent.  Beaten up by one’s own self, well that’s definitely a topic for discussion.

What I really like about this lesson from Proverbs is the way it ends.  “I must have been beaten up, but I don’t remember it.  Why can’t I wake up?  I need another drink.”  Honestly, it would make for a great comedic monologue if it weren’t so true and sad.  The passage illustrates the circular, closed loop thinking we get caught in.  Oh believe me, it’s not just alcoholics or addicts that get caught in that kind of thinking.  We can all be guilty of and vulnerable to it.  It’s really not that difficult to allow our selves to be lured into our own closed-loop thinking.  We can be lured individually and even as a group.

Sometimes we might call this closed-loop thinking “stubbornness,” but I think it’s more than that.  It seems to me that stubborn determination can happen when one has done a fair amount of research, listened to the ideas of others, and made a decision to take a stand.  The sort of closed-loop thinking we see in addictions and other painful situations really arises from a very different track.  The individual is actually closed to new information or ideas.  Something keeps them locked into their own logic loop.  What imprisons them could be the drug, fear, anger, or some other strong emotion.  They reach a point that they’re so closed to any new information or ideas that they just keep repeating the same thinking and arriving at the same solution, as destructive as it might be – “I need another drink.”  

Lent can be an opportunity to assess whether we might be imprisoned by any closed-loops in our thinking and living.  We experience God’s grace in Christ as freeing us from the power of sin and death.  Maybe one of the ways we might explore our grace-given freedom is through its power to free us from closed-loops.  Maybe it’s time to ask for something other than “another drink.”  I pray that God’s grace will help free me from closed-loops that cause so much hurt.  How about you?

Blessings and Peace,


Pastor, Cross Lanes United Methodist Church

Cross Lanes, West Virginia

Help save lives! For more information on my book, “A Relentless Hope: Surviving the Storm of Teen Depression,” visit http://www.survivingteendepression.com.

My other book, “Wednesday Wonderings: Spiritual Journaling Through a Lens” is available at http://www.wipfandstock.com and http://www.amazon.com.

Check out my video, “Teens Surviving the Storm” http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=o1hSpxC_G24


~ by revgenelson on February 17, 2016.

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