Learning To Live In God’s Time Zone

(This was written February 22, 2009…. Update: As we approach 2012, I am celebrating three years smoke-free, without relapse, no cheating, and complete peace. Thank you, God 🙂

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Five days ago, something significant occurred. I drove to our church to meet a small number of individuals who were attending a conference together in Texas. We each had our small suitcases jammed with three days worth of clothing and necessities. We each also had a sack full of goodies for the road. Nothing looked out of the ordinary, except my backpack was packed with three times more goodies than the other folks’, so what was of such great significance? That I had more candy? Hardly.

I hadn’t told anyone but my family. In fact, my kiddos were the first to know! But, my church family hadn’t a clue. I put my suitcase in the van, buckled my seatbelt, and grabbed a book I packed to read along the way. Mum was the word! I knew that I had a couple of very long and challenging days ahead of me, and I didn’t want to send everyone in the van into a panic. Therefore, I chose to remain quiet about the significant event taking place at that moment.

The first day came and went. On the second day of the conference, I decided about 10:30 that morning that I needed an ice cold Pepsi. During a break, I looked at the line to the coffee shop and knew I’d never get through it in time to return before the break ended. I spotted a “greeter” and made my way toward her friendly face. I thought that she would certainly know where I could find a pop machine.

I asked her where the nearest soda fountain or machine was located in this massive facility, and her response nearly sent me into cardiac arrest! She said, “We don’t have soda on the premises at all. There isn’t even a coke machine in our break rooms. But, we do have coffee and tea with caffeine in them.” I think the look on my face was more than desperation. It was total DES-PER-A-TION! No soda? Are you kidding me? What place on planet earth doesn’t have soda/pop/Coke/Pepsi/carbonated stuff? Apparently, I found it. In Texas. And too top it all off, it was during this significant event in my life! (All of the sudden, I wondered where my trust in God went?)

I knew that coffee and tea were not the answers. Number one, I hate coffee. I only drink it at certain times, and it can’t be just regular coffee. It’s nasty. Two, tea is for when I’m sick. No, I do like tea, but again, when I want a Pepsi, I need a carbonated beverage. Tea isn’t a substitute. Imagine going to McDonalds and ordering a combo meal-Big Mac, large fries, and a hot tea? No, you are expecting the Coke. So, if you’re only choice is tea, it’s really awkward.

I walked back in to the main area. It was suggested I drink coffee to cure my “lack of caffeine” headache. “Oh well, no big deal!” Say what? No big deal? I had to disclose the significance. At that moment, I told the few who were around that I had quit smoking, and it was not a headache from lack of caffeine. I needed the Pepsi to counteract the need for a smoke break. I was doing fine, but when I didn’t have pop all of the sudden, it was like taking EVERYTHING away all at the same time! It’s kind of like dieting while you quit smoking. It’s not going to work if you give up eating and smoking at the same time. Work on them one at a time for maximum success, right? It requires focus!

I was seriously so ready to walk to the nearest store which was probably 10 miles away. No, I wasn’t going to buy tobacco. I just wanted the pop! Is that not crazy or what? I had no desire to walk and buy cigarettes. But, I was in a triathalon mode to get pop. I would’ve ridden a bike, run, and swam forever just for a Dr. Pepper! It had me wondering, what is my true addiction here? Pop or smoking? I’m obviously giving up smoking before cutting out any pop.

I realized that once the group understood the significant event that was taking place, there were some very kind and understanding individuals who worked with me to get the keys out of the locked center, so we could make a pop run at lunch. Let me tell you, when desperation sets in, creativity just flows! And I wasn’t the only one who was needing a pop. There were a few surprised individuals upon learning that soda wasn’t available! Longer story short, we found a store and got everyone’s soda. And just for future planning, I bought a 12 pack to leave in the van. Yes, even when it seemed bleak for me, there was a way to get the pop. And then I was fine!

Now you are probably wondering why on earth I planned on quitting smoking while away on a church event? Why would I not tell everyone what I was doing before hand? Well, the answers are simple.

First, the reason I didn’t tell anyone I was quitting smoking on this trip was because I didn’t want them to make me ride in the trunk. Honestly, if you tell a group of people that they are the lucky individuals who get to sit next to you for hours on end while you stop smoking, go through withdrawl, and possibly get cranky, what do you think they will do? At the first bathroom break, they’d “accidentally” forget that I hadn’t gotten back in the van and take off! Okay, well maybe that’s just me. At least that’s how I envisioned it. Maybe I am the only person then that would think that? Hmmm… (That’s funny-and a joke 😉

Second, I really wanted to quit smoking, but I didn’t choose this conference to be the time/location. That I give credit to God for. Longest story short: I had been praying to God about my smoking. I prayed and conversed with him for months now about this habit and my sincere desire to quit. But, I knew (and He did as well) that I was really addicted to the nicotine. I mean REALLY addicted. So, it was nothing that I could do on my own.

I prayed to God and just kept conversing with Him as I do all the time. But one day in particular, as I came inside from a smoke break, I remember telling Him that I thought I could do it…REALLY do it, if I could get out of town for a few days with a few non-smoker friends. I felt I needed to change my routine, keep busy, and have support from friends. As I approached the front door, I remember saying to God that I didn’t have any friends who would go out of town with me or support me. And the few friends I do have are smokers. That was not going to work. I don’t want to give up my colleagues who smoke-but they just weren’t the one’s to help me quit. That was obvious! I let God know in my prayers and thoughts, that I was ready, that’s what I felt I would need to succeed, and I just asked Him for help, courage, strength, and a solution. I was clueless.

Two days later, I received an email from our Pastor about attending a three day church conference. It was taking place in two weeks. Wait! Two weeks? Wow! I had planned on quitting smoking, but not exactly in two weeks! Maybe I could wait and quit the following month?
Not quite. I knew without a doubt that the invitation to the conference was part of God’s plan. He answered my prayer. He answered it with all the specifics I had talked to him about! And, what was I going to do? Tell Him no? No, thanks? I will quit later?

Absolutely not! I knew right then and there, that God had given me exactly what I had been praying and asking Him for. I was serious in my prayers, and He was serious in His answer! He provided me what I’d asked for…and more! Now it was up to me to take it, GO, and DO IT. He couldn’t do it for me. I had to do it. It was my decision. And I was not about to give in. I couldn’t. I was serious when I prayed and conversed to God. And, I didn’t take His response lightly. He provided what I thought I needed, and I knew that He would be right there with me as I started this journey. I felt so blessed. Blessed to know that God was providing the opportunity that I’d sincerely asked for, and also to be learning so much at the church conference.It was time for me to start acting like a leader in the House of God.

I guess that I was nervous in the beginning, but as I thought about how God orchestrated these events, I knew that my faith in Him, my trust in Him, and sincerity to Him would get me through even the toughest times as I gave this habit up.

It was the first time in my life that I had to make a choice of this type and very quickly. God provided the opportunity, the tools, and the people. All I had to do was live up to my part to go, do, and believe in Him and His promises. I had to go and have faith in Him.

I’m so glad I did. Today it has been five days since I last smoked. And truthfully, it hasn’t been as hard as it was the last few times I tried to quit. It’s been something I can’t really put into words, other than just to say it’s been easier, more peaceful, and I’ve struggled less while enjoying it more.

On the way home in the church van, I kept reaching and patting my shoulder. I felt that I needed to press my nicotine patch down tightly on my shoulder. And then I’d remember each time that I am not using the patches. I have no nicotine replacement therapy at all (not even the gum)! As I grabbed my arm one last time while watching the sunset over my shoulder, I wondered if it was possibly a “spiritual patch” I was thinking about and pressing on. It felt like God had put a patch on my arm (his hand) to help me through this ordeal. One word-three letters: WOW!

I am thanking God every day for this opportunity to be smoke free. I am also very humbled, and I know that this is something I couldn’t have done without Him. I honestly feel like a new person. I feel like a much stronger person. But all that aside, I have experienced first-hand the answering of a prayer, and finding the courage and strength to go when and where God’s plan determines when He sends the answer. When He says go now, and I was planning on going later, I know what the benefits are of leaving when He determines is best regardless of any fear I have. I learned to listen to God and trust Him. And because of that, I have succeeded more than I could’ve imagined possible.

Thank you, Father God, for the encouragement, peace, opportunity, love, support, strength, hope, contentment, knowledge, willpower, and friendships you have provided to overcome this obstacle in my life.

I am here, use me! I now can say that without feeling like a hypocrite hiding in the shadows smoking. Thank you for everything, God. Thank you so much for the valuable lessons in this obstacle.

Thank you for teaching me about trust. God, I know I can trust you. Where ever you lead me, I will go! Whenever you say it is time, it is time. I don’t care what my watch says.

Thanks, God! I am now relying on your time zone-not mine.

Amen!

Copyright 2008, Christine Pechstein, Move Into Action/Seasoned With Salt

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