For many years I’ve entertained the idea of quitting drinking alcohol because the damage it has caused in my life is both well-known and hidden:
Well-known because I lost my sister, Danielle, to the actions of a drunk driver. And there are a slew of people from the not too distant past, and especially in college, who can testify to the wreckage that drinking caused in my life (I documented some of it in a post here).
Hidden because I've made so many bad decisions when drinking in my past. And even though the days when that was a frequent occurrence are long gone, it still happens. It's true, even as God has blessed me with a family, children, a great job, and more, if I’m honest with myself, I have to acknowledge that there’s still an unhealthy desire in my heart to “let loose” and not be concerned with how much I drink.
This desire has reared up time and again in small and even some big ways.
Over the past two years in my job there have been functions where I’ve had four, five, or more glasses of wine--well into the state of questionable judgement and loss of control. I've made the excuse that, as a salesperson tasked with "working the room," it's part of the process.
Whitney almost always can tell right away and is rightly angered that I would “let go” in this way. When Whitney and I traveled recently to Nashville, we both saw my desire to drink heavily on full display.
Even in more innocent instances--a couple of Scotches while doing house work on the weekend for example--when I reflect on the motivations of my heart to have that drink, the answers don’t settle well with me, answers like…
- to relax more
- to have a different kind of energy
- to be a little more joyful
The fact is, in each instance Scripture comes to mind that says…
- find comfort in the Lord (Matthew 11:28)
- God will help me to soar (Isaiah 40:31)
- the joy of the Lord is to be my strength (Nehemiah 8:10)
Other excuses I could make are that I like the taste and it’s healthy, but again, as I reflect on what alcohol has profited my taste buds and health in contrast to what it’s cost me, the net result is heavy loss and those reasons don’t appear to be good enough.
And even though I'm in no way saying that alcohol is bad in itself (creating it was Jesus' first miracle, after all), and in fact, I expect that I will have another drink at some point, I can’t kid myself that this is a completely innocent activity.
I can’t act like it’s something I can just do and there isn’t this past shadow that it’s cast on the family. I don’t want to drink when it’s a problem for me, and for so many other people that I know!
As I stated at the start, these thoughts have stirred in my mind for years, but what’s brought it to a head now is a simple prophecy that I received in Atlanta in December 2016. Two people, one a guy I know, and another woman who was a stranger to me came up to me at a church and after praying told me that they believe that God is encouraging me to write a book and tell stories about what He is doing, stories that God is making clear to me and helping me to tell.
Now, when these words were spoken to me I was surprised by them because I have never told anyone that I’ve always wanted to write a book, mainly because I thought it would be later in life. And here were two people poking at this thing in my heart and telling me that, in fact, the time is now!
What does this have to do with quitting drinking?
While I’ve enjoyed writing since I was little and have even been described as having a “gift” to do so, in my mind I’ve often told myself that I write best after having a couple drinks (or more). And frankly, in writing circles, this is actually a common mindset! And so I felt validated in thinking that, saw it come true in some instances, and so have thought it for many years.
The problem is this, with the kind of writing that I believe God wants me to do, there’s a massive conflict in my thinking and in my heart! Because as soon as I realized I am supposed to write a book about God, I prayed to God and said,
“Lord, I am only going to write this book if you write this book, you have to guide me!”
And I know without a doubt that God isn’t asking me to have a few drinks so I can hear the Holy Spirit better. What He’s calling me to do is pray and fast and be sober minded so I can listen better and hear what He’s saying more.
In summary, drinking runs in direct conflict with my desire to learn from my past, my thinking about effective writing, and what God is calling me to write in this season of my life. And so, I’m quitting drinking for the foreseeable future, or at least until the book is written and published.
What would also be a huge help for me is to receive your prayers. I really do not expect this to be easy, I’ve drank for so long, and especially socially. However, with God I know this is possible; and so, when you pray, ask God to draw me closer to Him, ask him to give me grace enough to be disciplined about this, to resist temptation, and also, please pray for wisdom and discernment as I write this book! That would mean so much to me, and by all means, if you get some “sense” or some encouraging thought from God as you pray for me, please do let me know! I’m so thankful for the people who are reading these stories, my family, and the ways God speaks through and sharpens me through you, and anticipate that He is going to increase that in the future!
UPDATE: A brother weighs in...
I've been so encouraged as I shared this with, first, my wife, and second, a dear brother in Christ, who is on somewhat of a parallel journey in that he is also feeling called to write a book.
Anyway, this brother, one thing I love about him is his dedication to immersion in Scripture, and as a result, the great wisdom and counsel that comes from him. Many times, the timing of his calls and the words of his counsel have resonated deeply in my life.
So when I told him about this, what he wrote to me gave me depth to this decision, understanding the precedent for making these kinds of vows, even publicly, and as I read through the Scripture he sent, it all, once again, sank deep into my heart. Here's what he wrote:
1. Check out the "Nazerite Vows" in OT. Read the word. Here's some thoughts on it, too: Here. It will encourage you, if you're not aware of it.
2. God wants you to write DRUNK and be DRUNK (FILLED) with His Spirit. It's the only way to write, and live, for God! A great theme verse for you: Ephesians 5:15-21.
3. Great choice, brother. I trust it definitely has a time and purpose for you and His Kingdom!
PS. Make sure you read John's "vow" announced by Gabriel.... Luke 1:13-17