Humor and Proclamation, Part 2

cigarettes in ashtray

A few weeks after I quit smoking, my brother called. We were talking, and he asked how I was doing post-cigarettes. I told him that it was rough and that I really didn’t enjoy anything—I was living a “gray” life. I realized that I sounded really harsh and bitter (because, you know, I WAS), and I thought, “Okay, let’s lighten up a bit.” So I “jokingly” said, “I do think that it will get better, but hey, if it doesn’t? If I’m still miserable six months from now, I’m going back to smoking!”

I had forgotten about that until the Holy Spirit brought it back to my mind this past weekend. Why this weekend? Well, I finally flipped my lid and fell apart on God. I told Him that I couldn’t live in the nothingness any more. The occasional moments where I felt His presence weren’t enough to offset the daily grind of gray. I told Him that He hadn’t come through for me, that He wasn’t there and it was killing me. And if I don’t even have Him, then there’s no reason to continue living like this. After an hour of telling God the truth that was in my heart, I cried my way to a gas station, bought cigarettes, cried my way home again and lit up.

And nothing happened. No rush of happy delight. No sense of well-being. Not even a good buzz to welcome me back. There wasn’t an ounce of pleasure to be had, and I was astonished to my core. Maybe you’re thinking, “Good, so you threw away the rest of the pack and were done!” Nope, sorry. I smoked the rest of the pack because I just couldn’t believe that everything that I’d remembered so vividly was completely wrong.  But it was! I smoked every cigarette in that pack over the course of two days and instead of it being wonderful, I was sick as a dog. I felt absolutely horrible!

My idol was exposed for the lie it always was. The so-called happiness was a delusion. I had tied myself to a ghost, and for six months, I was imprisoned by my “humorous” proclamation. I basically told God what I expected of Him – I demanded that He replace the role of cigarettes in my life, as I wanted. But God doesn’t take orders from me. I don’t get to tell Him how to love me. What I DO have the power to wield is my choice. I BELIEVED that without cigarettes, my life was colorless and bland. And in my proclamation, I chose – and declared my will out loud – to go back to smoking in six months if God didn’t do what I wanted Him to do. God DOES NOT violate our free will, but He also has a choice and a Will, and He bows to no man’s demand. He’s God! I effectively threw up a wall to God and told Him that He couldn’t move in that area of my life.

I told the truth when I told God that He wasn’t there and that He hadn’t come through for me. It just wasn’t the whole truth. The whole truth is that my choice, exercised in proclamation, was to tell God that it was my way or no way. And that’s the exact same as telling Him “no.” So the overwhelming nothingness of the past six months was the direct result of a vow that I made “in jest.” Ouch.

For by your words you will be acquitted,
and by your words you will be condemned.

Matthew 12:37 HCSB

This was an awful lot to see, and I’m still digesting everything, but needless to say, I am horrified by the power of one careless, bitter, “humorous” comment. I’m like a toddler with a loaded gun! And there’s only one solution: I just need all of Him and none of me, and mounds of grace to get there.

When I told Martha about all of this (confession is pretty important when you jump into sin with both feet), she said that I’d been fasting from cigarettes for six months and now I could really quit. And that’s absolutely right. I really hadn’t left my little god because I was bound by my proclamation to return. Having visited the true death of nothingness in my old flame, it is no longer difficult to say, “It’s over for good, and it’s not me – it’s most definitely you.”

So that’s my story of the danger in humorous comments that are really proclamations. I can’t know all the places that I’ve anchored myself to death, so it’s most fortunate that I have a Father who sees and knows everything. I’m asking Him to show me where I’ve cursed myself and others, and I’m trusting that He will, in His perfect time.

I will not die but live, and will proclaim what the Lord has done.
Psalm 118:17 NIV

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    • LeAnn

      Jennifer, bless you. Your blog has given me eyes to see a new boldness in relationship with our Father!

    • Andrea

      thank you Jennifer for sharing all this …
      the difference between fasting and giving up is huge .. I had never seen it quite so clearly before …
      I woke up this morning feeling quite unwell and was tempted to say “I am so sick” but I remembered
      all the blogs I have recently read from you precious folks about proclamations
      and chose instead to speak put loud – “I am so loved”….
      I so appreciate each of you!!

    • pearl

      Thanks again for just sharing your journey and your heart and your stumbles into sin!!
      I relate to what you have been going thru…I gave up what I though
      was everything to me…in a person who greatly loved and adored me. They became my idol tho and when you said “I basically told God what I expected of Him – I demanded that He replace the role of cigarettes in my life, as I wanted. But God doesn’t take orders from me. I don’t get to tell Him how to love me.” I in essence told God this same thing….I told Him , God fill that void, fill that emptiness that person filled in my heart…and I want it NOW please….its been almost 7 months for me….I can tell you I’ve had my severe tests with this that I didn’t pass at times either as this other love was being purged from my life…as Martha shared this person was a “rival to God for me ” but I did see recently that thing was dead in me for the greastes part….the way it was and I am in love now with the Father of Lights… Jesus, in whom is no shifting shadow…that other thing was not real and like you say…a ghost…not able to be what I wanted anyway… It’s been a really long road for me, but its been worth it to get clean in my heart and love Hymn and worship Him in spirit and truth now…without an undivided heart….thanks again for sharing an aspect of just what I have gone thru…

      • pearl

        I meant greatest 😀

    • Lori

      Felt like The Lord was saying, ‘go tell John (Jennifer, in this case!) what you have seen and heard: the blind see, the lame walk, the lepers are cleansed, the deaf hear, the dead are raised up, and to the poor the gospel is preached. And blessed is he who is not offended because of Me.’ Peace!

    • Susan

      Great message Jennifer… ‘and you shall know the truth and it will set you free!’

    • Sam

      You made me muse about this word you are bringing in (“the danger in humorous comments that are really proclamations”.)

      Bitter humour can be a way to express what we don’t want to say in a “stern-serious” manner. We use it as a way to flee from confrontation with Him, as a “filter” to our own heart, to hide it from others, to cover its evil and bitterness.

      I believe the personal cost of not giving in to these shortcomings (there are multitude of them, apart from bitter humour, of course) is solitude. But it is there we know Him.

    • Tina

      I am in the first days of surrender and choosing God over one of my idols. I am careful to not say too much. Just appreciate the Word, reminders, and request prayer. Right now His joy is my food and praise is fresh and lovely!!

    • Tina

      Jennifer this reminded me of a time when I learned more of the fear of God through His grace. I was a very new Christian and was in the beginning process of turning away from drugs, cig. etc. About 6 mo. in to this a Christian mentor hurt me deeply, so I chose to say what the heck. I had recently turned 18 and never been able to buy my own alcohol so I proudly bought a 6 pack and a pack of cig. (which cost .55 at that time) I took off out of town in a friends car…had to leave early in the morn. to get back so they could go to work…pulled out into an old ally, pouring rain and the car stalled…would not start 4 am…alone..I called on God…oh no…I have cig., bargained w/God..”I will throw them out if you please just start the car”…threw them out…the car started…I thought God didn’t do that…opened the door and picked them back up before they even got soaked. I was trembling but clearly not enough…I never forgot his mercy in not striking me dead though!

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