Picture it... a cold winter's night and I was just about to jump into a lovely hot bath when the phone rang. It was the supervisor of the Samaritan branch to which I was attached asking me to visit a man who had just called from Glenrothes in a desperate state.
When I arrived at the address I'd been given the house seemed to be in complete darkness. I banged on the door and it was answered by Archie. By the light of a tiny candle (his electricity had been cut off) I could just make out a truly miserable scene.
In his semi-drunken state he told me the most heart-breaking tale of woe I had ever heard in my 22 years. Throughout his life, due to his deep-seated addiction to alcohol, he'd lost absolutely everything... and I mean everything! He'd lost his wife and children, every job he'd ever had, all contact with his extended family, his friends and almost all his possessions (sold to buy drink). He was bereft of all sense of dignity and self-respect and was now faced with losing his tenancy. Tears rolling down his cheeks he felt he had nothing left to lose, but his life.
Thankfully I managed to deter him from suicide, got a stay of execution on his impending eviction and agreement to have him 'dried out' in a Fife psychiatric hospital, where I later visited him. I couldn't believe the difference. Completely sober and thoroughly cleaned up he looked, and claimed to feel, 30 years younger. And sadly in my youthful naivety and unrealistic optimism I believed all his promised good intentions about future sobriety etc. But it was probably no surprise when, several weeks following his discharge, he called the Samaritan branch office in the very same state as before. And the last I heard of him was that he'd headed back to the west of Scotland from whence he'd originally come.
LOOK AND LEARN
As I later reflected upon all of this I realised it to have been a steep learning curve for me, and I remembered the old Robert Fuller quote...
'Bacchus hath drowned more men than Neptune.'
...knowing it to be true in Archie's case. He was a man who had been 'drowned' by the god of wine rather than the god of the sea. This experience was also a stark warning to me as I recognised in myself something of an addictive personality. From that day on I decided to deny alcohol a foothold in my own life.
As I was yet to have become a follower of Jesus I was unable to tell Archie of the transforming power of the Holy Spirit, and even then the Samaritans, as an organisation, frowned upon such blatant evangelising. But now, as a believer, I don't regret my decision, especially when I heard a Christian convert and recovering alcoholic say one day...
'I don't know about Jesus changing water into wine, but for me He's changed
wine into furniture!'
WATCH AND PRAY
Of course no-where in the Scriptures are we forbidden to drink alcohol. After all, Jesus did change water into wine. (Though this variety was far less potent than what we have today and was also actually safer than their public water supply!)
Scripture makes clear that it's drunkenness which God condemns, no doubt because we must never let anything or anyone master us, other than Christ Jesus the Lord.
So do please be very careful. Don't be deceived. You may well be sure you're in control of your drinking, as Archie had been for years,... but it may be steadily controlling you!