In my opinion, one must experience enslavement or imprisonment to understand the real meaning of freedom or being “set free”.
My imprisonment was living with a horrendous gambling addiction. The addiction or compulsion to gamble started at around 8 years of age and it came to dominate my life when awake and when asleep through dreams. I managed to pass through life (or so I thought) looking as though there was nothing wrong with me. However, those people who became close to me or my immediate family saw the other side of me, and it wasn’t pretty.
Looking back on my life I feel the primary damage caused by my devotion and enslavement was the time which I gave to it. It was all consuming. I put year after year into pursuing the unattainable. As a man once said to me at a gamblers anonymous meeting and I quote… “If this room which we are sitting in was so full of money that you couldn’t breath, it still wouldn’t be enough”.
Another fall out from this sick way of living is the damage caused to those people who love the addict. To this day and probably for the remainder of my life I will have flashbacks to that hurt and to the trail of devastation which I left. These memories are part of me but I know and believe there is no condemnation.
I hit so called “rock bottom” many times, and many times I thought that I would never gamble again but always returned to the prison, picked up my chains and put them firmly back on.
In spite of numerous best efforts of gamblers anonymous members and meetings, private counselling, time in rehabilitation centres, hypnosis, acupuncture and other forms of treatment I kept my chains firmly in place.
In fact I thought my prison became escape proof and in truth I didn’t want to think of it as a prison because at times I got so much comfort in that state.
However things were to change and in a big way. I was at another one of those low points when I was walking past a south city Dublin church and felt a desire to go in and seek God. I believed in God, a creator of all, the I AM, the Giver of Life. At that time, although I believed and was a Christian, I lived off His grace and took His love for granted. Following this visit to the church, to seek His counsel, a chain of events took place and I experienced a freedom like I have never experienced before. I put my trust and faith in Him more than ever and through him He set me free from my prison.
That happened over a year ago and now I try to serve Him not out of fear but out of love. I have learned that today’s surrender is tomorrow’s freedom. I am set free and give praise to Him for being there for me. I am also very aware that my flesh is very weak and always will be and therefore I must be strong in the Lord and His mighty power.
“For our struggle is not against flesh and blood but against the rulers, against the authorities, against the powers of this dark world and against the spiritual forces of evil in the heavenly realms.” NIV Ephesians 6 v12