THREE-FOLD CORD September 8, 2001

I had something else (Sam Walton) on mind this morning, but the Spirit keeps bringing this addiction thing back to my mind, and I will share it this morning. I hate revealing all these terrible things I have experienced, but, this is the way I seem to learn things… the hard way.

I became addicted to cigarettes when I was in my 40’s. I never considered it could happen to me. I had the Holy Ghost and I was born again. I had gone to church all my life and been taught to avoid pitfalls.

Around this time, I had just got through a divorce after being married to my children’s father for 28 years. After we sold our place and settled everything, I had taken my 15-year-old daughter (Phyllis) and moved to a new town where I had a new job. The children’s father had always been the disciplinarian in our home, and I found myself at a loss as to how to handle Phyllis. I think the school of Hard Knocks (personal experience) is an excellent school, but a parent hardly knows how far to let a kid go, before it’s TOO far. I was terrified of drugs, as my older children had experimented with them some, and I didn’t know how to deal with that. I felt guilty for my children’s hurt over the divorce, and didn’t really feel qualified to chastise them. I felt like I wanted to make it up to them any way I could.

Before long, I realized Phyllis was smoking pot and smoking cigarettes. I talked to her about it, and of course she tuned right in on my guilt. She blatantly refused to give up what little fun she thought she was having. I didn’t want her to feel she had to hide things from me, so I compromised with her. I told her, if she was going to smoke, she might as well do it in front of me, because I didn’t want her to sneak around and feel more guilt. So there we were: Marlboro Light 100’s all over the house.

Well, my husband had always smoked, some of my brothers smoked, lots of my friends smoked, but I had never been tempted to try it… until now. Taking that first cigarette was not a “conscious” choice I made and didn’t make. They were just there, in my face. I found myself alone in the evenings after work and felt very restless and unsettled. So I lit up one of those sticks and puffed a little bit. Not too bad, really, and I settled down some. Next evening, same thing: just a few puffs. Next evening, same thing. I never smoked at work or anywhere else, but I sort of began to look forward to getting home and settling down with a cigarette after a stressful day. I knew that I could quit any time I wanted.

My dad was a preacher, my mother was a saint, and I wouldn’t even think about smoking in their home or in their presence. It wasn’t until I went to visit them one weekend that I realized what had gradually, subtly happened to me. I didn’t have any cigarettes, and it was aggravating to me, because I really wanted one. It was the greatest surprise of my life to realize I was hooked. I couldn’t believe it. ME? A smoker? I could not accept this of myself. I didn’t WANT to be a smoker. I refused to believe that I couldn’t quit.

My refusal to accept the obvious, soon became a battlefield. I remember sitting with a lit cigarette in my hand telling my soul over and over: “I AM NOT A SMOKER.” I would never admit it to myself. After I was married again, my new husband would bring me a carton every time he bought one for himself. There was a never-ending supply.

When I realized that, even while I was denying it with my mind, my body just kept going through the motions of doing it. I learned what this scripture means:

James 1:13-15 Let no man say when he is tempted, I am tempted of God: for God cannot be tempted with evil, neither tempteth he any man: [14] But every man is tempted, when he is drawn away of his own lust, and ENTICED. [15] Then when lust hath CONCEIVED, it bringeth forth sin: and sin, when it is FINISHED, bringeth forth death.

I was sowing to the flesh. When I was first enticed, I could have resisted the temptation, but I underestimated what a tiny seed can grow into. Lust is enticed and conceives. It grows. Pretty soon, one is not enough, then two is not enough, then three is not enough. It never starts out that way, but that’s the way it grows.

It was a really sobering realization when I found I could not quit by my own will power. I began to pray because I hated the situation I had gotten myself into. One night I had this dream:

[I was in a laboratory with a man who was dressed in a white coat like a scientist. He was showing me an apparatus where he was conducting an experiment. This sterile stainless steel machine looked kind of like one of those old cream separators farmers used to use. There were three round steel plates jutting out of the machine, and on each plate there was a little covered canister shaped like a snuff can. He took the lids off the cans and, inside each one, there was a tiny human embryo. There was a white tube inserted into the mouth of the first embryo with brown liquid dripping from it into the baby’s mouth. Then there was a smaller tube leading from that embryo to nourish the next one. Then there was a tube from the second one to the third one.

The next scene in my dream seemed to be some time later, and I was back in the laboratory with this chemist. He took me over to the machinery again and lifted the lids off the cans. This time, the white tube of brown liquid had been removed from the first embryo and it had shriveled up and died. The second embryo was very weak and the third was very weak. I knew they would be die soon.] (end of dream)

It took me many months for this dream to unravel where I could understand it, but I knew the white tube with brown liquid represented a cigarette with nicotine.

I never gave up my basic stand that I was not a smoker and I was determined to overcome this thing.

During the next few years, I quit three times. The first time I quit for a couple of months. Then I thought I could just have one with a friend, for old times sake, and be okay.. but I wasn’t. I was right back on them stronger than ever. The next time I quit, the company where I worked (I was working in Arkansas by this time) had offered an incentive to employees to quit smoking. They offered a hundred dollar bonus, plus free smoking-cessation classes. They had already banned smoking inside the workplace, and that had helped me cut down during the day. You know, deprive yourself all day, then run home and smoke like a freight train??

Well, I jumped at this opportunity and went to smoking cessation classes for six weeks. They showed videos of all these Marlboro Men after they had got older, and told how many of them had died of cancer. That part didn’t help me, but when they showed actual X-rays of how much better the lungs looked after a person quit smoking-- that really encouraged me. At the end of the cessation classes, we all quit and took the vow. I got a little pin (I still have it) with the initials I.Q. on it. (I Quit.) That time, I stayed off them for 18 months.

Then, I suffered a tremendous emotional trauma. Something I had worked and hoped for just fell through and I was taken advantage of treated very unfairly. First thing I did was go buy a pack of cigarettes. Right then, I just didn’t CARE. But, I was right back on them.

I was so disappointed in my self. I just felt so weak and stupid and no-good. I felt like a whipped pup. In this terrible, pitiful, heap of my soul, the Spirit spoke these words indelibly upon my heart: “A threefold cord is not easily broken.” I remembered I had read that somewhere in the Bible and I looked it up:

Eccles. 4:12-13 And if one prevail against him, two shall withstand him; and a threefold cord is not quickly broken. [13] Better is a poor and a wise child than an old and foolish king, who will no more be admonished.

I thought about a threefold cord. I thought about a braid of hair. A single strand of hair comes right out, but I have seen pictures of people with their whole body suspended from their braided hair. A braid is hard to break. This is a principle that applies in any situation, but for me, it had a particular impact.

I remembered what the Lord had shown me years earlier in that laboratory. First the natural, then the emotional, then the spiritual. First the body, then the soul, then the spirit. I saw how an addiction comes in, takes up residence and how it grows to fill all the house. I realized that, even though I had quit the habit physically, it still had a hold in my emotional dimension. And I knew if I ever let myself resign to it, it would envelop my spirit, my will. I continued to pray. I had learned a lot about this process of addiction, and I just caved in to God and admitted that, of myself, I could do nothing.

About a week later, I came down with the flu. For several days, I was so ill I could not eat or hardly take a sip of water; and I sure couldn’t smoke. During this time, I thanked God for this condition, because it is what I needed for a jump start. I figured if I could go a week without a cigarette, I knew enough now, to watch out for the triggers. I knew not to take up the first one. I knew I couldn’t play around with them. I knew to really be on guard when I was emotionally troubled.

Another thing I wrestled with was the fear of gaining a lot of weight. Everybody I knew who had quit smoking put on a lot of weight. I finally made a choice about that: if I had had to choose between gaining weight and smoking, I would gain weight. The first month after I quit, I was careful about what I ate, but I put on twenty pounds. It’s a systemic change that occurs, and will come back into balance after awhile.

The physical dimension is where an addiction starts. That’s the first place we have to start in unbraiding the cord. Eliminate the source. Once we remove the white tube with the brown substance, the physical addiction dies, but the memory is still there in the emotions for awhile, and is just ready to flare back up if we don’t realize what is going on with us. For a long time after I quit, I would dream of smoking and go through all the feelings of it. But, when I woke up, I would be so very happy it was just a dream.

I do not mean to zone in on cigarettes or to judge anybody with addictions. I feel much empathy with them because I know the battle now. I know the struggle. I know the “wanting to quit and not being able to” feeling.” I used to judge before I trudged that old road. But the seed principle true to itself, no matter where you apply it, and if you plant the seed, you get the crop.

A threefold cord-- Body, soul, Spirit. When all of these dimensions are united within us, we are whole. We are one. We are in one accord with ourself. This is what Jesus asked before he healed people: “Would you be made whole?”

Healing is a process of being made whole. There are so many addictions in the world today, and there are powers in high places that understand how addictions work, and are making billions of dollars off our weakness of the flesh.

I am going to close this with one more scripture. (Maybe I’ll get to Sam Walton before long.)

King James Version: Matthew 24:23-28 Then if any man shall say unto you, Lo, here is Christ, or there; believe it not. [24] For there shall arise false Christs, and false prophets, and shall shew great signs and wonders; insomuch that, if it were possible, they shall deceive the very elect. [25] Behold, I have told you before. [26] Wherefore if they shall say unto you, Behold, he is in the desert; go not forth: behold, he is in the secret chambers; believe it not. [27] For as the lightning cometh out of the east, and shineth even unto the west; so shall also the coming of the Son of man be. [28] For wheresoever the CARCASE is, there will the EAGLES be gathered together.

New International Version: Matthew 24:23-28 At that time if anyone says to you, 'Look, here is the Christ!' or, 'There he is!' do not believe it. [24] For false Christs and false prophets will appear and perform great signs and miracles to deceive even the elect--if that were possible. [25] See, I have told you ahead of time. [26] "So if anyone tells you, 'There he is, out in the desert,' do not go out; or, 'Here he is, in the inner rooms,' do not believe it. [27] For as lightning that comes from the east is visible even in the west, so will be the coming of the Son of Man. [28] Wherever there is a CARCASE, there the VULTURES will gather.

The nature of vultures is to feed off dead bodies. Think about that. Vultures live off of death. Vultures fly high. There are those who are in very high places who have become filthy rich off the suffering of people they have helped to addict. An addict is a slave who is putting filthy lucre into a rich man’s pocket.

Wheat and tares grow side by side. Anything can be used for good or evil. Some people fall into evil blindly; but, some people have learned how to capitalize on suffering and glut themselves from it.

We need to study the power of a seed. We need to observe the fruits in our world today and understand how they started out as tiny, harmless seeds. We need to know that there are people in control of this world who know exactly how to manipulate multitudes and bring people to their knees in surrender. If we don’t deal with the seeds, the harvest will overtake us.

Jeremiah 12:5 If thou hast run with the footmen, and they have wearied thee, then how canst thou contend with horses? and if in the land of peace, wherein thou trustedst, they wearied thee, then how wilt thou do in the swelling of Jordan?

We need, individually, to be made whole. Our body, soul and spirit need to be knit together in one cord (in one accord). If you are made whole, and I am made whole, and another is made whole, then we’ll come together in one accord and have a living body that is strong. We won’t be a carcass for vultures to stuff themselves on. Love and blessings, Betty

Father, we thank you for your patience and your long-suffering love for us. We thank you for the grace you shed upon our path as your Holy Spirit teaches us to love one another as you love us. We pray, Father, that you break every yoke that constricts us, sickens us, weakens us; and lead us in the path that is set before us. Teach us to pour out and receive from one another in love; teach us to bless and not curse, and to bear one another’s burdens along the way back to you.