The other day, I was conducting an internet search and stumbled across this short story written by F. Scott Fitzgerald, “Babylon Revisited.” Pleasant memories of my 8th-grade English class were re-kindled. As I re-read it, one memorable and favorite passage of mine reappeared and is reproduced below.
“–but all that’s over. As I told you, I haven’t had more than a drink a day for over a year, and I take that drink deliberately, so that the idea of alcohol won’t get too big in my imagination. You see the idea?”
“No,” said Marion succinctly.
“It’s a sort of stunt I set myself. It keeps the matter in proportion.”
“I get you,” said Lincoln. “You don’t want to admit it’s got any attraction for you.”
“Something like that. Sometimes I forget and don’t take it. But I try to take it. Anyhow, I couldn’t afford to drink in my position….”
Excerpted from “Babylon Revisited”, F. Scott Fitzgerald
Charles Wales, the protagonist, is attempting to explain a peculiar ritual that he adopted as a recovering alcoholic. He would deliberately take one drink every day as a means to keep his habit in check. I vividly recall our English teacher explaining the circumstances of this short story. She admitted that it may be difficult for some of us to understand his actions. I agree. It took me many years to viscerally understand what the character was attempting to do. Even now, I think his choice is of dubious and questionable merit. Perhaps this behavior has been used successfully by some to address a damaging addiction, however, I do not think such a course of action would work for me.
Like a dog that returns to his vomit is a fool who repeats his folly.
Proverbs 26:11 (ESV)
There are many sins with which I continue to struggle. Nearly every time I fall victim to these sins, it is because I have placed myself in a situation that weakens my resolve and preys upon my vulnerability. I fail more often than I succeed. Unlike Charles Wales, if I deliberately placed myself in a situation that re-exposed me to my sin, it would exacerbate an already forlorn situation. I am a dog that returns to my own vomit, willing to repeat my folly. Perhaps this is why this story has resonated with me these many years. I never believed it was possible.
When we accept Jesus Christ as our Lord and Savior, God deals with our sins in a very personal manner. There is no uniform approach. Some sins are gone forever, others linger and a few others may worsen. While it may be simplistic to blame God for my failures, the truth is my stubborn unwillingness to completely surrender my will to God and accept His direction for my life. Until I do, I will remain the hapless dog, repeating past sins.
Love and trust the Lord; seek His will in your life.