So if the Son sets you free,
you will be free indeed!
- John 8:36
A "Non-smoking" Miracle
by Birgit Barandica Eichberger, November 2005
I began to smoke when I was around 18 years old. With time, I smoked an average of one pack per day, making sure not to exceed that number. I must admit that I enjoyed every single cigarette that I smoked. On TV and in magazine articles against smoking I was told that this is supposed to be a lie, "enjoying it" is nothing else but an excuse for not wanting to give it up, nobody would really enjoy smoking. As for me I can say that this was wrong, at least for me. I never lied to myself, I did enjoy every single cigarette. When being ill with flu, cough or suchlike, I usually stopped smoking alltogether by myself until feeling better. Maybe this was the reason why I could handle smoking more reasonably than some others, if you can speak of "reasonable" here anyway...
After I got saved in October 1992, I never did what I saw in several other people - during longer services or conferences, they went outside at least once, only for a smoke. For me, this was a disrespect toward God. Also, I didn't want want to miss out on anything, so I always waited for breaks to come and then had a cigarette. Knowing what addictions are, I understood this as a help from God to curb my desire for smoking in such moments. And frankly, I could never understand that for certain people, the desire of smoking was more important than God Himself or the atmosphere of being in His presence.
I thought I was a responsible smoker...
And then came September 2000 with the “Awake Europe” conference taking place in the city of Essen/Germany. There were famous speakers like Dr. Michael Brown, Steve Hill (both from Brownsville Assembly of God Church in Pensacola/Florida), Suzette Hattingh (“Voice of the City”/Frankfurt in Germany), Reinhard Bonnke (German evangelist to Africa) and others. Steve Hill gave an emotional speech about God wanting to take smoking off of certain people and put a big bin on the platform for them to come forward and throw in their cigarettes and other smoking utensils. Many people followed this call. Yet I felt a strong rejection. I did not want to see this call being for me. I said to myself that I don’t have an addiction problem if I can bear so many hours without smoking when being in a godly atmosphere or when having health problems. And it was not just a simple “bear it”…, as the mere thought of smoking didn’t even cross my mind in those moments!
Well and this conference went on for 5 days. I even didn’t smoke in every break, amazingly. So everyone can imagine how little I smoked in all this time!
When I got home on Sunday evening at around 7pm, I sat on my couch and passed the whole thing in review. Because something great had happened there for me: God gave me the speaking in tongues! For such a long time I had been praying for it and now, in a very deep time of worship, all of sudden I did it - I just did - it came out of me as if it would have been the most normal thing for me to do in all my life! It was just awesome! So, while thinking about it and enjoying every bit of this memory, I smoked a cigarette and enjoyed it to the fullest.
And then… - God spoke…
All of a sudden it was like hearing His voice in my head (loud thoughts - I don’t know how to describe it differently), saying: “What if I gave it to you just like that?” It was a soothing, loving voice. In amazement I stopped, stared at my cigarette and thought: “This can’t be true…!” But there it went on: “Just think of how many cigarettes you smoked in these past 5 days! It was merely the quantity you usually smoke in just one day! Now what do you think if I made you stop smoking altogether?”
This was really God! It was not just a bad-conscious-thought. I know what that feels like. These words didn't come out of my own brains, but it was like they would sort of pile in my own different thoughts. I didn’t see anybody, but I knew God was being next to me. I started to argue, to negotiate, I was very good at it! I said: “Okay, Lord, just one or two cigarettes once in a while. You know how much I enjoy them.”
He answered something that fascinated me. Talking afterwards with a pastor about this experience, she told me that especially the last sentence proved that it was indeed God and not my own thoughts. It sounded almost affectionate when He said: “There is absolutely nothing against a good cigarette every now and then, just like there is absolutely nothing against a good glass of wine every now and then. But you are not yet at that point.”
It sounded so determined that I couldn't argue with anything against it...
On one hand this was evidence to me that neither smoking nor drinking alcohol is a sin in itself. It's people who often look at it as being one, or are making it into one by exaggerating with both, handling them unreasonably, irresponsibly, exaggeratingly. Some people should really take their hands off of both because it doesn't agree with their body system. Like for example, I cannot eat fish. I'm allergic to it. I feel the unpleasant consequences right away after consuming it. And as far as addiction is concerned, it is always bad, not only in case of alcohol and tobacco, but also of everything else like sweets, certain materials, work, even people and many more things. None of those is either good or bad. But the effects of their unreasonable use can become as destructive as does the unreasonable use of alcohol and tobacco.
On the other hand, I understood the seriousness and the greatness of this fantastic offer to me. I became very insecure, because as I already said, I enjoyed smoking ever so much… I took a deep breath of my cigarette and really felt sad. But then I began to think that I could accept God’s offer and see how far I would get with it.
And right into this very thought God spoke once again: “Don’t take it for granted you will be given it for a second time!” No reproach just a determined statement full of love. I knew this was not a game…...
This was the end of our conversation. But not the end of the story!
I couldn’t get God's words out of my mind. I tried to talk more to Him, but He wouldn’t answer anymore. I was left to think. That evening, I smoked 5 cigarettes. But I must admit that this time, I didn't really enjoy them… Was this sort of my childish rebellion?
Next day, Monday at work, I didn’t smoke at all. I thought I'd simply try it out! And it didn’t feel bad at all no suspire, no longing. That evening at home, I smoked 3 cigarettes and that was it. This is now 5 years ago (speaking in November '05)!
But the story is not yet over!
Tuesday evening, 2 days after “it” happened, my former neighbor came downstairs. Like so often, she came for a coffee, a cigarette and a good chat. This time, we only had coffee and a good chat. I told her about what had happened. She was not a Christian back then (unfortunately, I don't have contact with her anymore, since she moved away). She was amazed, but didn’t react the way I was hoping for: that she would ask me about God. Well… The moment came where she said she wanted to go outside for a smoke. Knowing what stopping to smoke usually means for a person, she said she does not want to smoke in my presence. Very caring of her! Yet I encouraged her to stay inside, the ashtray was still at its place. At first, she hesitated, but when I told her again to stay, she lit her cigarette.
And now guess what… from the very moment she lit her cigarette, I didn’t smell nor see it, although she was sitting right in front of me!! Isn’t that something? This remarkable thing went on for about 3 more weeks. Several people smoked in my presence, yet from the moment they lit their cigarettes, I never smelled nor saw it anymore. Incredible!!!
This is what I call another miracle!
After those 3 weeks, God must have thought that I’d be over the worst. One day, I was travelling in the underground, standing next to a door, when we stopped at a station and I saw somebody throwing his cigarette away before he passed through the door. He trailed a terrible smoke smell. I thought to myself: “Oh my... Did I stink the same when I still smoked?”
This gave me the security that it was good for me not to smoke anymore. Yet I must admit that every now and then, I still feel a strong desire to smoke, "if only one little puff"… It is such an intense feeling then, that I don’t know what I’d be doing had I a cigarette at hand right then. But then I hear God’s words again: “…but you are not yet at this point.” Since I never know when this point might be, I prefer not dwelling on this thought. Because at the same time, I hear God’s other sentence: “Don’t take it for granted that you will be given it for a second time.” That helps. And the desire is gone. It's a thing that happens in only a fraction of a second. So, God is constantly helping me!
I don’t want to put God on a test. Just imagine how far I got by now several years later and then I would destroy it by giving in to one weak moment’s desire? What a waste this would be! No, I’m thankful to God for having taken me off this habit. This has most probably saved my health… at least it has helped me save a big chunk of money! It is definitely a good thing not to feel the need of smoking anymore. I can now enjoy people and their presence without a heavy air.
To the Glory of our loving Father!