Clinging to Pride
“There is a way that seems right to a man, but its end is the way of death” (
Sonny James had once urged Johnny Cash to pray, but during his darkest years, he wasn’t doing much of that. Instead he sought solace in pills and alcohol, though perhaps numbness is a better word for what he was after. In addition to his drug habit, after he moved to California, Cash took up where he’d left off with beer, and he added vodka and wine to his list of favorite beverages. “I found you can cultivate a taste for anything as long as you keep tasting,” he wryly noted.
The pills and alcohol made him twitchier than ever. Friends noticed and whispered about the incessant nervousness that manifested itself in odd twitches, spasms, and facial expressions, and eyes that sometimes blinked incessantly.
On one pill-and-booze-fueled escapade, Cash drove his jeep at breakneck speed up the side of a mountain, zigzagging around mesquite and manzanita and careening wildly till he reached the summit. He stopped there and considered his situation. It was pitch black out and there was no visible route back down. After pouring the contents of two cans of beer down his gullet, Cash asked himself, “What have I got to lose?” He started the jeep and, without even turning on its headlights, started back down. As it picked up momentum the vehicle bounced off rocks and bushes and Cash had to fight for control of the steering wheel. It got much harder when he plunged through a grove of manzanita. Now it was a struggle just to stay in the jeep as thick branches slapped and whipped his face.
By the grace of God, he made it to the bottom in one piece. Then Cash sat there for several minutes, shaking uncontrollably. He had sweated through his clothes and literally scared himself sober.
Looking back much later on that episode and the torment that caused it, Cash acknowledged his big mistake was that he didn’t turn it all over to God instead of clinging to his “man pride.” When his wife and others expressed worry about his health and behavior and begged him to get clean and sober, Johnny would assure himself, “You’re not so bad” and kept doing as he pleased.
1. There is a way that seems right to a man, but its end is the way of death. (Proverbs 14:12 NKJV)
Johnny was following his own way instead of God’s way, and it was leading him down a destructive road. Have you had a similar experience?
2. Wine is a mocker, strong drink is a brawler, and whoever is led astray by it is not wise. (Proverbs 20:1 NKJV)
Do not be drunk with wine, in which is dissipation; but be filled with the Spirit. (Ephesians 5:18 NKJV)
Why does the Bible warn against drunkenness?
3. Do not be deceived, God is not mocked; for whatever a man sows, that he will also reap. For he who sows to his flesh will of the flesh reap corruption, but he who sows to the Spirit will of the Spirit reap everlasting life. (Galatians 6:7–8 NKJV)
Our actions have consequences. Can you think of a time you reaped what you had sown—either good or bad?
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