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by Grace Bellingham
A precious, brand new convert was struggling with leaving her old life behind and fully embracing the new one she had been born into through Jesus Christ. All of her friends from the church were off doing this or that and quite frankly she was bored. She decided to spend an hour or so at a bar she used to frequent thinking that in reality what could it hurt.
While there, as God would have it, she met a man who became quite taken with her. In fact, he said he knew her. She was shocked because she had never met him before in her life; of this she was certain. It so happened that this man had just gotten out of prison for drug running. While in prison, serving a twenty-year sentence a friend had sent him a photograph of his girlfriend and some of her friends at the beach—she was in this picture, and he had been looking at her for five years, every day. Through a judgment of the courts he had been released after serving only five years and this is how he found himself in that particular bar on that particular night meeting that particular woman. What a God!
He said he wanted to get to know her better and would she consider having dinner with him some time. She said no, but if he really wanted to get to know her better he was welcome to go to church with her on Sunday. He accepted and this is where my story begins.
This young man, in his early thirties, came to church that Sunday. He was overwhelmed. He had great difficulty believing that such joy, such peace, such love that he experienced in that Sunday morning service could possibly be real. He couldn’t resist coming back, no longer was he seeking her – it changed to Jesus seeking him and he was responding to the gently loving embrace of the Savior. Oh what a day when Jesus causes the blind eyes to see and makes hardened hearts soft clay.
He was gloriously born-again and became as dynamic about God, his faith and his church as he ever had about anything in his life. He was all about living for the new love of his life and everyone who every know him heard about His Savior in ten minutes or less.
Although this man was powerful, strong enough to face a gang of drug-smuggling criminals with machine guns pointed at him, while remaining calm and level-headed, bringing them around to his way of thinking and leaving with their cash and a long-term relationship, he did have a weakness that threatened to be his undoing. He had become a hopeless alcoholic. Drinking had become his solace, his place of safety. While drinking he could be anything he needed to be. When drinking he found an identity he could live with. Drinking he found feelings of security in the face of deep insecurity.
The truth is he was abandoned as a baby and had been raised by adoptive parents. At some point in his rebellious teen years, fifteen years or so, he had come home to find all of his belongings in the street in black trash bags. He took to the streets and never looked back. However, the deep insecurity of such rejection only became more deeply rooted and fed into every area of his life.
Everything he did shouted look at me, approve of me, notice me. What he was desperately searching for was acceptance and approval. He longed to be valuable. It didn’t matter who approved of him; whoever did got his allegiance. In his pursuit of a life worth living he sought after making money and a name for himself. He would show them who he really was!
This led to a life of deeper and deeper criminal activity—the more he tried to build an identity for himself, the more he needed to build an identity for himself. This kind of desperate attempt to feel like somebody becomes a vicious cycle that only leaves a person more defeated and rejected than when they began.
Alcohol and drugs so often become an escape from reality. For instance, how badly you feel about yourself becomes “I’m not so bad”, to “Hey, I’m alright”, to “Watch out, here I come” and “Aren’t I something.” Alcohol and drugs become addictive companions by altering how you feel and what you think. When things get out of his control, drinking gave him the feeling that he was in control.
In spite of his newfound faith in Jesus Christ, this demon of alcohol addiction still had his talons fully gripping and dominating his will, and he alone knew it. He was living the faith life and looking really good while at church or fellowshipping with church people, but oh my, when he was alone the demons would rumble.
Turning to anything but God for your consolation or strength sets up an idol in your heart that you have put above God. He had to see that alcohol was in charge, not him. Only then could he agree that God was greater, and that He alone could set him free from a bondage that had made this strong man so weak.
At the end of a church service one Sunday morning there was an invitation for healing and deliverance and God spoke to his heart as he stood there at his seat. He said, “Son, you don’t need it anymore, you can now let it go forever”. He took that as his cue and walked down the aisle to the front. As he approached me, God spoke to me and said, “Tell him he doesn’t need it anymore, that he can let it go”. I did and he was so overwhelmed with faith that God had said the same thing to him that he was given the gift of the Holy Spirit to repent and believe, that bondage was broken, the demons holding him hostage were destroyed and he walked away a new man in the strength of God. He remained drink free for the rest of the time I knew him. He never again needed what alcohol failed to ever give him and he embraced with his whole heart what the God of eternal power and life offered to him instead.
Truly this weakness was destroyed and in Jesus Holy Name and he was made strong by the power of God!