I grew up in the church; served as an altar boy and tried to keep the balance sheet on the good side so that God would not punish me. At age 13 I prayed to God to stop my alcoholic father from killing himself, only to find him dead the next day. I decided that either God did not exist or He was punishing me.
By my late 20’s, I had a career, a home, two cars, a wife and three kids. Outwardly I looked like a success. Inwardly I was shaking my fist at God. I started drinking shortly after my father’s suicide; initially for fun and ‘liquid courage’. I progressed to an angry and depressed alcoholic, unable to stop drinking.
My wife sent our kids to VBS at Hope and asked if I would talk with a young pastor there. I agreed. Pastor Jon came and spent 2 hours trying to share the love of God with me. Instead I got drunk and ranted that God hated me and Christians were all hypocrites. He left dumbfounded, but he did leave a copy of the New Testament bookmarked at the Gospel of John. Six months later everything was crumbling away. My wife and kids left, and I hated the person I had become. I wanted to die like my father, but was afraid to go through with it.
I couldn’t decide which was worse. In desperation, I threw my hands up and said something like ‘OK God, I give up. What do I do now?’. Instead of frying me with a lightning bolt, God replaced my despair with a hope that did not exist a minute before. I found the New Testament that Pastor Jon had left and I felt a conviction that the answers I needed were in there. So I read it from cover to cover. A few weeks later, I showed up at Hope. Eventually my family started to join me there.
Today 31 years later, I stand sober and forgiven by the blood of Jesus. God was not punishing me, but He could not intervene in my life until I surrendered and let Him. God was with me all along. Today I serve Him out of love for who He is and what He did for me. He empowers me to be the person he wants me to be. I just have to cooperate and do the leg work. God does for me what I cannot do for myself but He won’t do for me what I should be doing myself. To God be all the glory!