The last week of my junior year of college I received an email from my campus pastor saying I had been elected to be president of my campus’ Christian ministry. My face immediately lit up when I received the email. This Christian group had become one of the most significant aspects of my college career, so I was beyond excited and grateful to learn I had been elected as president.
However, as I kept reading the email, I came across something. I came across a line under the expectations/guidelines that said, “As President, I commit to not consuming alcohol on or off campus.” And that’s when I didn’t’ feel so excited anymore.
You see, I had waited 21 years to have alcohol. The entirety of my college career had been me saying no when people offered me alcohol at parties because I knew underaged drinking was illegal, but I also knew that soon enough I would be 21 and could have a simple glass of wine with dinner and it would be marvelous.
That would not be the case anymore if I accepted this position as president of my Christian ministry. I would have to wait another YEAR until I could drink alcohol, and that was not okay. After thinking deeply about the situation, I decided I couldn’t be president. Opening up a new email to my campus pastor, I began typing:
Dear John, Thank you for this opportunity, but unfortunately, I must respectfully decline this position as president.
As I went to press the SEND button, something stopped me. Something felt off. If my campus pastor asked me why I had decided to decline, what was I going to say? I can’t be president because I want to drink mimosas. Something was not right about that.
In hindsight, I believe that hesitation was God’s Holy Spirit calling me out. That “off” feeling was God revealing to me that alcohol had become an idol in my life without me even knowing it. Nothing is inherently wrong with alcohol. Drinking when of age and not in excess is not a sin. However, when a thirst for alcohol becomes greater than a thirst for Jesus, that’s when it becomes dangerous, and that’s what had happened with me. I was literally thirsting for alcohol more than Jesus.
There are so many things we thirst for in this life: relationships, success, approval from others, the list is endless. The point is just like with alcohol, none of these things are inherently bad. God created us to be in community and relation with one another. God desires for us to be successful. Where the bad comes in is when our thirst for these other things become greater than our thirst for Christ.
Are there things in your life that you would do a double take if someone asked you to give up? Alcohol? Money? A relationship? An extracurricular? Would it make a difference if that “someone” asking you to give up these things was Jesus?
Take a risk and thirst first for Jesus. Our bodies were designed to thirst for water, but our souls thirst for Jesus, the Living Water. We were created to drink Jesus and as we do, we will learn that nothing else satisfies.
“Jesus stood up and cried out, ‘If anyone thirsts, let him come to me and drink.’”