Garrett Crawford - 05/12/2011
I started out wanting to give a simple testimony about what the Lord did for my truck, but I realized there was a greater testimony behind it that may help others. It's concerning coffee and the slow dependence I developed to it, but the Lord was faithful to cleanse me from my self-induced slavery to it.
For over a couple years, I have been wrestling with the Lord over His urging that I quit coffee. What I considered normal behavior for any American the Lord considered dependence on a stimulate. I had a deep infatuation with Starbucks and would often drink so much coffee during the day it mess with my sleep cycle, often going to bed late and having restless sleep at best. I realized it was in my best interest to quit but my idol "the hot cup of Joe" overruled the freedom the Lord was trying to grant me.
Let me say that this trial of stopping coffee was the hardest trial of my life. You should know that I have been through some serious uphill battles, from quitting marijuana, cocaine and prescription pills, to believing for a healing of a rectal hernia. None of those were a bigger battle than quitting coffee. It wasn't so much a physical addiction as a physiological one. I felt I needed it to make it through the day.
I remember when this trial first started and I felt God wanted me to quit, I asked Him plainly, "Lord, if you want me to quit drinking coffee, give me a word". I opened the Bible and threw my finger down. The verse was: (Mat.26:29) But I say to you, I will not drink of this fruit of the vine from now on until that day when I drink it new with you in My Father's kingdom. He was telling me that today was the day that I must end this. I did quit but the subtleness of sin and lust of my flesh lured me back to it time and time again. I cannot tell you how many times the Lord would warn me to quit after I would start back up again, each time accompanied with a severe spanking, often resulting in a blow to my wallet. I had no illusion about God's take on this matter but chalked it up to weakness of my flesh and failing God, but really it was nothing but old-fashioned willful sin.
A couple months ago, I started to slowly test the waters of caffeine indulgence, wondering if God was still resolute on the issue. (Does God ever change? No.) One day, during a late afternoon, I was tired so I went into the store to get some caffeine-charged liquid refreshment. I knew I was doing wrong but I said, "Lord, forgive me for this wrong. I am really tired and feel weak to obey you. I am being tempted and I have no strength to overcome this". I thought this little prayer would cause God to have pity on a tired old soul after a long day of work. Needless to say, I was looking over my shoulder the rest of the day for judgment to fall. By night's end there was no judgment, so I thought, "I'm good!"
But the next day I had a long drive up to Jefferson County, about an hour north of Knoxville. I was pulling my 12-foot trailer and hauling my mower. I was on the highway and all of a sudden the left wheel of the trailer came off! I looked out my window and I saw my trailer wheel cruising alongside of my truck in the median. My trailer was grinding on the pavement. I kept driving to a gas station up the road. So there I was, an hour from home with a broken trailer and no way to get it back home. I knew instantly this was judgment. I prayed and said, "Lord, I have sinned against you. I have disobeyed Your word and now I am suffering because of it. I accept this penalty and I know that I deserve it. The only thing I ask is that You forgive me and allow me to be able to find someone to repair my trailer and get it home tonight". This was a big task because I could not find my wheel anywhere and my hub was damaged. I needed serious work done to the trailer. Needless to say, I was relying on God's mercy, so I drove just a few miles up the road and I saw a large trailer sales and repair shop. I walked inside and they offered to come to my trailer and fix it and get me on my way. It did end up costing me something like $200 but I knew that was the price I had to pay. However, He heard my prayer and I was home that night with my trailer. After that I was pretty certain I would not test the Lord anymore.
About a month later, I started to get those craving for coffee again, but I'll be specific: it was the caffeine I wanted. I started to ask the Lord, "Why have You required me to quit this stuff but fail to take the desire away from me? I feel trapped by my own flesh". I started to read the scriptures and I ran across this: (Col.2:20) If ye died with Christ from the rudiments of the world, why, as though living in the world, do ye subject yourselves to ordinances, (21) Handle not, nor taste, nor touch (22) (all which things are to perish with the using), after the precepts and doctrines of men?
That's when I said, "Aha! That's it! I have put myself under the law; therefore, I have no power to obey, only to fail miserably by trying to keep a law". I felt pretty good about finding this verse because now I had some scriptures to stroke me while I dove headlong into my idol. That next day I started to drink coffee again and the occasional Red Bull. I thought I had freedom but in reality I was a slave to my flesh. I knew something wasn't right, but I had that scripture to help comfort me, so I marched on day after day drinking coffee all the while feeling, shall we say, less than spirit-filled.
Caffeine made me kind of nervous and after I would drink the initial morning cup I would drag the rest of the day, having to drink more just to compensate for the caffeine crash from the previous cup. After a few days of this, I started to reap some judgment. It started when my "check engine" light came on. I went to Advanced Auto to get them to run the code for the issue and the guy said it was my cam shaft sensor. He said it was a pretty serious issue and advised me to leave the light on instead of resetting it because the last guy who did that had his engine catch on fire. So I decided to leave the check engine light on and just hope that my engine would compensate for the problem. Then, a few days later, I was driving and I got a speeding and seat belt ticket. After that, my laptop screen got completely smashed. That is when I realized, "Garrett, regardless of the tricks you try to pull to allow you to continue serving this idol, God will not be moved. If you continue on this path, you will be broken without remedy".
The Lord reminded me of the verses in Proverbs that read, The way of the transgressor is hard (13:15) and Thorns and snares are in the way of the perverse: He that keepeth his soul shall be far from them. (22:5) I don't know about other people, but I have always had peace in my life when I obeyed God and was perfect in my way. No evil came near me and no "bad luck" befell me. Some people chalk up adversity and mishaps to "life", but I know it's God getting my attention because there is disobedience that needs to be rooted out and this time was no different.
So, needless to say, I was tired and weary concerning this trial. I have tried every option to get around this, but once again I realized the only door of escape was complete and total surrender. So with a change of heart I did exactly that. I confessed my idol and renounced the addiction. With my idol out of the way, I could clearly receive from the Lord. I remember one night He spoke to me something that cleared up a lot of misconceptions. Knowing that I had trouble making sense of the verses, like Colossians 2:20-22 which I mentioned and these:
(Rom.14:17) for the kingdom of God is not eating and drinking, but righteousness and peace and joy in the Holy Spirit. (Col.2:16) Let no man therefore judge you in meat, or in drink ...
I felt like He revealed this to me: "Yes, you are free to enjoy all meats and drinks. I do not judge you for the coffee because it is not the drink of coffee that makes you stumble; it is the chemical of caffeine that makes you stumble". He asked me, "Would you drink coffee if it had no caffeine in it? I said, "No". I realized the bigger picture, which was not the drink the Lord was concerned about rather than the mood-altering chemical found in it that I became in bondage to.
At this point, I was able to pray in complete faith for my check engine light on my truck. I was very concerned about my truck breaking down or, worse, catching on fire, as the store clerk warned me. I did so and within a couple days it went off. I was amazed. I reminded myself God was faithful and if you obey His commands He will answer any prayer or request.
The light stayed off for a week or so, but then it came back on and I realized this was only a test. I was not swayed in my confession of faith, even when the enemy reminded me that I had the money to get it fixed. I said, "Yeah, I have the money to fix it, but I am invested way too much faith in this trial to surrender now. I will see thing through to the end".
After a few days, I started to get concerned about the performance of my truck. Gas prices were reaching $4/gallon and I was thinking that I was probably getting really poor gas mileage due to this sensor being bad, but through it all I remained steadfast and stubborn. I said, "I will see this thing blow up before I give up my faith", and I was serious, too.
Then, about a week ago, I decided to check my gas mileage. I drove out a whole tank and did the math. I found that I was getting an incredible 21 mpg! For my year of Ford Ranger, which a 2001 3.0 with an automatic transmission, that is incredible. The best I have ever gotten was 19 mpg and that was with a lot of highway driving. I knew that even though my truck was supposed to be running poorly because of the engine issue, the Lord was rewarding me for not walking by sight. I was sincerely amazed. I kept driving the truck, resting in the promise of knowing nothing was wrong with my truck and the check engine light was a lying symptom. I still had to look at the light every day and speak to it, "I don't see you. You're off, in the name of Jesus".
Friday night, as we were winding down, Brother Rob asked if anyone had any testimonies. I spoke up and shared the trial concerning my truck. I explained to the group this was a trial of "not walking by sight" and resting in the fact that everything is okay, even when you see things contrary to what you prayed. After I left the meeting, I got in my truck and started my hour-long drive back home and I realized something was different. MY CHECK ENGINE LIGHT WAS NOT ON ANYMORE. Praise God! I have been driving it all week and it has not come on since. My gas mileage has been incredible as well, getting 23 mpg compared to 19.
Regardless of the circumstance or the idol that trips you up, please know that you will never find peace when you circumvent God's instruction and desires for your life. I know this was about coffee, but you can interject any stubborn idol into the story and the result will always be the same. Don't fight to keep an idol; it's not that God wants to keep you from having fun or make your life boring: He wants to free you up from weights to be able to manifest more Christ. You will often find when you give an idol up you will feel 100 pounds lighter and the desire to search the scriptures will come back with a vengeance. Serving idols will decrease the desire to read the scriptures. It's scientific, trust me. :o)
As far as coffee, I would never go to the lengths of Mormonism and put someone under a law and say "God says, 'No coffee'" because that is not the case. I feel that I abused my privilege to moderately enjoy it, so now the Lord had to cut me off. I understand some people don't develop a dependence on caffeine while enjoying their morning cup of coffee. Many others out there might be in the same rut I was in, waking up to a cup of coffee, then a mid-morning cup, followed by the 2:00 pm cup of coffee, only to top it off with the 5:00 pm cup.
I don't think the body was designed for that kind of stimulate intake. I know that since I have completely quit, I have never felt better. My energy level remains adequate all day. I can go to sleep early and I wake up earlier than I ever did when drinking coffee.
To each his own. I only wanted to share my testimony to say that there is life after coffee. Don't be fooled like I was in thinking you have to have it to get through the day.