By Karen Adams
I cannot put my finger on it now
The child is grown
The dream is gone
I have become comfortably numb
The word sober appears ten times in the ESV.
νήφω nḗphō (nay’-fo); of uncertain affinity; to abstain from wine (keep sober), i.e. (figuratively) be discreet:—be sober, watch. To be calm and collected in spirit, temperate, dispassionate, circumspect.
I think many of us know the aftermath of a few too many drinks; the experience of ‘sobering up’. This experience is one of acute, visceral rawness and the awakening to a brighter reality. It is a painful transition, as the fog is lifted from our minds and a weight of immeasurable sadness descends initially. Could this also be a metaphor for the supernatural awakening that occurs in our souls by the power of the Holy Spirit?
We as Christians are called to be awake and sober-minded (1 Th 5:6). As we walk deeper in our relationship with God, we experience this sometimes uncomfortable and acute sobering. We become acutely aware of the reality of the spiritual world and we are awakened from the dulling of our senses by what the world offers. Particularly in the U.S. where #firstworldproblems, middle class living and the gospel of prosperity blind our eyes and harden our hearts, this sobriety is deeply needed.
However, if we are not careful to hold onto the promises that God has for us, this sobering can turn into depression. In light of this sobering experience, self-soothing or self medicating can be difficult to resist, but will hurt our spiritual growth.
So what are we to do when we experience this sober mindset? We are to pray, repent and rejoice! The development of a sober mindset and discerning eye is the grace of Jesus stripping away the layers of materialism, narcissism, and pride that keep us comfortably numb. Our strong affinity for the world becomes an uncertain one as our attention gravitates to the things that are true, noble, just and pure (Ph 4:8).
We are also to hold onto the living hope and the promises of an “inheritance that can never perish, spoil or fade”. (1 Peter 1:4). It is too easy for me to forget these eternal promises when faced with another day of the often mundane and unfulfilling activities of life. I need constant reminders from scripture that though I face trials of some kind or another, be they #firstworldproblems or not, I have a faith that will sustain.
What is the end result of this sobriety? When we embrace this sober mindset, we maintain unshakeable peace and resiliency in the middle of chaos; forgiveness and love in the midst of hate. We are also better equipped to help others grow into mature disciples, capable of critically thinking and responding with a biblical view to the world.
My desire and prayer is that to a greater and greater degree we would attain this spiritual sobriety, putting off the old self that is comfortably numb and rejoicing in the hope which has been revealed.