One cigarette a day, oh my Precious!

I’m reading by JRR Tolkien’s The Lord of the Rings. One of the most compelling themes is the Ring itself. It possesses its owner by generating a psychotic jealousy. Many desire the ring and are willing to do anything to have it. One particularly loathsome character, Gollum, calls the Ring “My Precious”.

It makes me recall the rings in my life. I remember when I used to smoke cigarettes. I cut way back after a while, but I still smoked one before bedtime. Just one.

Meanwhile, I would preach the dangers of tobacco to my children. I was so desperate to have that smoke that I would hurry my children anxiously or even aggressively to bed. The Marlboro Man waited for me. But it’s just one lousy smoke, what’s the big deal? Beyond the fact that even just one cigarette per day significantly increases the risk of heart and lung disease, there was a deeper problem. It was my Precious.

The rings in our lives make us behave irrationally. We spit in the eye of reason. Rather than rely on God’s grace, we hobble around on a crutch. The drinker or addict convinces him or herself that they can handle it. They convince themselves of this every day. And – speaking from personal experience – they might even convince themselves that God has cured them of their alcohol problem to justify their weekend-only beer drinking.

The ring can morph into very wicked forms. One subtle but very real danger for the Christian is the desire to be the one that does/creates good rather than being an instrument of good or letting good happen on its own. The overwhelming desire to prove a point is many a Christian’s Precious as well.

We are much better off tending the sheep.

A Gollum lives in each and every one of us. Some are more obvious than others. But he’s there sniveling and plotting how to protect his Precious no matter what the cost. He hurts himself. He hurts others. Just so long as he can keep his Precious nothing else matters. Pride and shame drive us into oblivion.

We might reduce these rings, we might whittle them down so as to appear non-existent upon casual observation. But minimization is not the same as eradication. As long as they live within us we are at risk of transforming into a blood thirsty Gollum.

The only way to purge ourselves is honesty. It appears terrifying and exasperates us. What will I do without my Precious?

Examine your conscience. Admit your problem. Then grab it by the neck and yank it out by the root. God will never force you to be healed, but He will never turn you away either. Recognize the Ring, and let it be cast into the fiery pit. Let God’s healing fire consume it and obliterate it. Be free.

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17 comments on “One cigarette a day, oh my Precious!

  1. RFL says:

    So much truth here.

  2. Cristal says:

    Recognize the ring…that’s going to be my prayer now. For me, the rings go unnoticed too often. But, I imagine my family and friends clearly see them in my life. Maybe I should ask them? ;)

  3. jamie says:

    Hmmm…how many rings do I own?

  4. yoiyumtewa says:

    Excellent, Vince….You have me thinking! Now to act on those thoughts,,,,,

  5. granbee says:

    Oh, dear Brother Vince, how very much I needed this confrontation with my own “precious” today–in my case, the need to be viewed as “very, very intelligent”! Now, I have confessed to you, to all fellow followers and visitors here and to God. Let me please go out from this keyboard to walk in much greater humility with my fellows!

  6. Tammy says:

    Thank you for an excellent analogy, Vince. My children are LOTR-obsessed and dream of visiting Oxford simply to walk in Tolkien’s old haunts. We’ve named our farm animals for various characters and of course, the Ring is almost a daily theme in conversation. An important piece of the struggle is to recognize the presence as soon as possible, meaning awareness, awareness, awareness. None of us can do it alone. It’s nice to have each other in our homes, in our communities, in our faith, in our blog-osphere!

    • Vince Chough says:

      Thanks Tammy for your comment. Yes awareness is essential… and the help of others and from above. My prayer time helps me with this very much. How hard it is just to stop and think sometimes. Glad you stopped by!

  7. andrew says:

    Excellent thinking! The iconic ring is really precious for us! We should pray for this :)

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