Healing Line

Healing Line

New Year's Resolution

by Judith MacNutt
Jan/Feb 2004

Filled with great hope, many of us return each January to the ritual of making New Year's resolutions: lose weight, stop smoking, exercise more, stop getting angry and losing control, be a little kinder, be a better person, etc. There's something about a brand new year that fills us with hope that this year will be different — successful. A giant amnesia overtakes us, and for a few hopeful days we forget the failed resolutions of our past. As we slip back into failure again, we border on discouragement: "Why can't I change?"

What many struggling Christians don't realize is that they are dealing with a shattered will. Traumatic childhood events have a shattering effect on the will. Once the will has been damaged by sin or trauma, the individual no longer has the strength or ability to lead a disciplined, healthy, Christ–centered life. When you can't. stop yourself from making self–destructive choices, it's a sign that the will has been weakened. When this occurs, we rely on our own strength to change. This almost always leads to failure and for some, depression or despair. Many popular teachings emphasize "my ability" to change — to do it in my own strength.

Discipline is necessary in our daily life, but what happens when the larger moral issues are out of control, weakened by sin or trauma? What if l keep falling into the same old pits: adultery, promiscuity, addictions, greed, abuse, etc.? This is when I need to turn to God, who has the power to bring about the change our hearts cry out for. Only God's power through the work of the Holy Spirit, can heal our memories, forgive sin, and restore the shattered soul. Jesus brings His fire to heal us to live in freedom! Whom the Son sets free is free indeed.

I want to tell you a personal story. I had asthma when I was growing up. Then, when I was 16, I started smoking. Of course, I did everything to hide it: I ate onions before I went home at night, or I chewed gum, or sprayed perfume. I did all the things teenagers do to hide their smoking.

My mother hated smoking. She hated alcohol, too, but she especially hated cigarettes, and most especially because I had asthma.

A few years later, when I was in my early 20s, a man came over from Israel. I had lived in Israel, and a friend of mine sent him over. The man's name was Ralph. I picked him up at the Lexington, KY, airport, which was two hours away from my hometown. I didn't know this man, but he was planning on staying at my home for a few days. After we got into my car, I started to light a cigarette. Out of courtesy, I said, "You don't mind ifl smoke, do you?" He said, "Yes, I do." I almost threw him out of the car. But he was the friend of a friend, so I thought, "I'll just wait 'til I get home."

On the way home, Ralph began to tell me about how the power of God could free me from my addiction to smoking. And I thought, "M–m–m. Yes, yes." Now, as a serious addiction, nicotine is right up there with crack. As a matter of fact, it is actually more difficult to quit smoking, but I didn't really want to quit, anyway. I liked to smoke. I thought it made me look cool — like an adult.

Ralph said to me, "I'll tell you what. I'll make a deal with you." (He was going to be in our home for three days.) "Every time you want a cigarette, come and talk to me, and I will pray for you." I said, "Okay." We had two bedrooms in the back of my home next to the kitchen, and he was staying in the other bedroom. So this one time, when I wanted a cigarette, I went into his room where I found him reading the Bible. I said, "Ralph, I want a cigarette."

The minute I spoke to him, he dropped to the floor on his knees — just dropped straight to the floor — threw his arms straight up to the heavens and started shouting, "Lord, deliver her! Free her! Free my sister!" I didn't know what to do. I had never seen anyone pray like that. I thought he was going to say a sweet little prayer to encourage me.

Finally, I left the room after about ten minutes, because he just went on and on — he was in there forever — and I walked into the kitchen. Well, my mother was dying laughing. She was dying laughing. She said, "M–m–m. God sent someone." After that, I was afraid to tell Ralph in public when I wanted a cigarette. Once, when I was at a friend's house, I told him I wanted a cigarette. He dropped to the floor, and all my friends (they were dentists and doctors) looked at me and said, "What is he doing?" I said, "He's praying for me to quit smoking."

You can imagine how I just couldn't wait for him to leave. I really wanted a cigarette, and I hadn't had one for three days, but I thought, "I can survive one more day and humor him."

After his visit was over, I drove Ralph back to the airport, put him on the plane and was glad to see him fly back to Israel. Then I ran back into the airport lobby, put my money in the machine and bought a pack of cigarettes (because, in addition to everything else, he had stomped on all of my cigarettes and shredded them).

I didn't even wait until I got out of the lobby. I lit one — but it tasted awful. I can't tell you how bad it tasted. It was as if I had never smoked. Everything in me — my taste buds, my lungs — rejected it. I looked up at that plane. The sad thing was, I couldn't even be thankful at that point, because all my friends smoked, and now I was going to look uncool.

When I got home, my mom said, "It didn't taste good, did it?" She knew.

I haven't smoked one cigarette since that day. The amazing thing to me is that I know God can free those who really get serious with Him. I've gotten numerous letters from people who have been freed from smoking through one prayer. And I've gotten letters from others who have said, "You have prayed for me now for five years in a row, and I am still smoking." Now, what's the difference? Is there something within us that blocks our healing? Is there a need for more inner healing? I think we tend to look at some healings as being really hard for God because they are hard for us. They are not hard for God; He created us, and He can handle our problems.

So, if you have trouble keeping your New Year's resolutions, pray for God's help. Pray yourself or, better yet, tell your married partner or a friend and ask them to pray that God would help free you and transform your broken will and wounded desires.

Francis MacNutt Judith MacNutt is author, teacher, conference speaker and co–founder of CHM. Jan?Feb 2004 Issue