DISCLAIMER: This is not a blog about drinking. You will not find anything in Scripture restricting the consumption of alcohol. This is a blog about the ever-present danger of addiction & drunkenness (you will find plenty in Scripture forbidding that) and the inevitable devastation that follows. nw
“Who are the people who are always crying the blues? Who do you know who reeks of self-pity?….Whose eyes are bleary and bloodshot? It’s those who spend the night with a bottle, for whom drinking is serious business. Don’t judge wine by its label,…or its full-bodied flavor. Judge it rather by the hangover it leaves you with – the splitting headache, the queasy stomach… When I’m sober enough to manage it, bring me another drink!” (Proverbs 23:29-35, The Message)
I’m looking at a picture. My dad is holding my daughter, Macy. I’m standing next to him, and Jordan & Kelsie are in front of me. Michelle’s taking the picture. We were attending my granddad’s funeral (my dad’s dad.) But so much more was going on that November, 1998, day than a funeral service. That was the day my dad met my children for the very first time. Macy was 2, Jordan was 5, and Kelsie was 7. Alcohol addiction had cost my dad his marriage, a relationship with his children, a relationship with his grandchildren, and his career. Homeless and nomadic, I had not seen dad in 10 years.
Now, I’m looking at another picture. It sits next to the one described above. This one, two years later, is of me and my two sisters. We’re, again, attending a funeral. This time it’s my dad’s. The alcoholism that controlled him finally killed him. He was 57.
My dad was an amazing man – when he was sober. When he drank he became something else. Something terrifying. In a healthy state of mind, we have God-given “filters” in our brains that prevent us from doing horrible things we would not normally do. Alcohol, however, is a drug. It’s the drug of choice in North America. And, being a drug, it alters our our mind removes those “filters.”
Years ago, I was interviewed on NewsTalk 790 here in Lubbock regarding a vote to allow packaged alcohol sales in nearby Wolfforth. (I was the Youth Pastor at FBC, Wolfforth, at the time.) I told my story. Then the gentlemen giving the interview stated a sound observation. He respectfully said, “Nick, people in favor of this law will say that just because your dad succumbed to alcoholism it doesn’t mean everyone else will.” I replied, “I couldn’t agree more – but some will. And all we’ll be doing is making that possibility easier.”
No one plans on developing an addiction. It happens – without our permission.
When I lived in Dallas, one of my favorite columnists to read in the Dallas Morning News was Steve Blow. I’ll never forget one of his editorials about being contacted “out-of-the-blue” by an old friend of his. Blow wrote: “Mike called and said, ‘I don’t know if you knew this, but I’m an alcoholic.’ He had my attention. Mike’s story is a common one: Started drinking in high school because it was cool. Kept drinking in college. Faced real life and found he couldn’t stop drinking.”
I had not even begun 1st grade when my dad began giving me an occasional sip of his beer. By the time I was in 7th grade I was allowed to drink all I wanted. (I guess no one thought about that being against the law.)
When I heard Brad Paisley’s & Alison Krauss’ 2003 “Whiskey Lullaby” for the very first time I became so overcome with emotion I had to pull my car over. I have no doubt that almost everyone reading this knows someone whose life has been altered by the affects of alcoholism – quite possibly someone related to you.
In 1997, my youngest sister almost died due to a heroin overdose. After over forty days of not knowing whether she was going to live or die, she finally improved. Before she left the hospital I asked her if I could interview her and use her experience to warn teenagers about the lure of alcohol and drugs. She gladly gave me permission. The last question I asked her was, “Did you ever in a million years think this would happen to you?” Without hesitation she said, “No.”
No one ever does.
NOTE: Only moments prior to the first picture being taken, God ordained a divine appointment allowing me to explain to my dad that I’d forgiven him for the years of physical, verbal & emotional abuse my mom, my sisters and I were forced to endure for so many years. Dementia had since stolen away his mind – this former City Councilman and news anchor for KRBC TV in Abilene, TX. But, that November day in 1998, God had graced me with the ability to speak clearly and compassionately, and my dad with the ability to understand. It was an unbelievable display of the supernatural power and grace of Jesus. Next to my profession of faith in Jesus Christ, no single decision has so liberated my life than forgiving my dad. My story of how I made that decision is included for you below.