The fall of 1985 as a very memorable time for me; September 8th was when God became real to me and I received Jesus as Lord into my life. Then , almost a month later, Sunday October 6th was the first time I went to Church as a believer, but it is the time in between those two dates that God change my life forever.
On the morning of the 8th of Sept. 1985, nine of us were fishing on our friend’s parent’s property. It was Sunday and his parents had left for Church, but they immediately returned and call all of us up to the back porch for coffee and donuts. (I’m going to fast forward to keep this as short as possible).
They were Baptist Missionaries and they explained how they had become believers in Christ; they had attended a special event where a famous Country & Western singer was there giving her testimony of how she had become a believer in Christ, how she was into drugs and alcohol (and other things). But the moment she received Christ, she was completely delivered from smoking, drinking alcohol and the drugs from that very moment.
At the end of the event this couple prayed right there and received Christ into their lives and when they got home they found that they too had been delivered; they tried to smoke their cigarettes and it made them sick; they tried drinking their beer and that too made them sick. (All of this stuck into my mind as I received Christ into my life that day).
Immediately after we left to go home, I stop at the closest convenience store, where I decided to try this Christianity thing out to see if it worked on me. I normally would buy a whole sleeve of dipping tobacco and a case of beer. However, this day I thought to myself, why buy all that and waste it if I was really delivered, so I bought one can of beer and one can of tobacco.
I opened the can of tobacco and put some in my mouth and it tasted the same to me. I then open the can of beer and drank some of it, and again it tasted the same: so I thought to myself that maybe this Christianity thing wasn’t going to work on me. (So I went home and drank my case of beer that night and yes, that was my normal thing to do, to stay up late at night and drink anywhere from 12 to 24 cans of beer a night while watching TV.)
Three days later, coming home from work I let my wife know I was home from work and gave her a kiss goodnight (I worked the night shift), I was walking pass a table that had my sister-in-law’s bible on it, (she had loaned it to my wife). As I started to walk pass it, I felt something in me say, “You need to read that to see what you’ve gotten yourself into.” So I immediately pick it up and grabbed a six-pack of beer and started read it.
I had tried reading the bible before many times, starting at the beginning, but after a few chapters I would lose interest. This time I thought I would start at the last book (Revelation); so with beer and bible in hand I started reading and I read the whole book that night. Revelation scared me a lot, but remembering that the couple had quoted to me John 3:16 as they witnessed to me, so I read the first five chapters of the book of John and by then I felt a peace that I was ok. So this was now my new habit, coming home and instead of watching TV all night, I would read the bible and drink my beer. (However, I didn’t want anyone to know, because I was somewhat embarrassed to let anyone know I was reading the bible. I was very careful to replace the bible back on the table, so that no one would notice.)
I don’t recall when it first happened, but shortly afterwards I found myself not being able to drink a case of beer any more, in fact, six beers was my limit. If I tried to drink a 7th beer I would get sick and I could only keep the tobacco in my mouth for about five minutes, then it would start to burn my lip. Being addicted to the beer and the tobacco, I found myself constantly trying to pass this new limit, where my mouth was sore and my stomach was sour from getting sick every night.
Even the music that I normally listened to while working (Country or Rock) seemed to irritate me. But it so happened that a friend of mine told me about a Christian radio station he listened to, so I started tuning in on it and found that it played a large variety of music from a country to a hard rock & roll style of Christian music. But, even here I was embarrassed, so I turned it down real low; because I didn’t want people to know that I was a Christian at work. But I did start to slowly raise the volume up as time went by.
After about 30 days I had read the whole New Testament twice through and halfway through the Old Testament; I was reading almost 8 to 10 hours a day in the bible (I found a pocket bible to read at work), every moment that I had free I would break open the bible and read or I would listen to the preachers on the radio while I was at work.
Then on the 5th of October, while working Saturday overtime and listening to the Christian radio station; I was thinking to myself, (my mouth was so sore from the tobacco and my stomach was so messed up from trying to drink my beer), that I found myself speaking out loud to the Lord, “Lord I can’t break this habit of tobacco and alcohol, so please deliver me from them!”
Those words were no sooner spoken that the announcer on the radio stopped the music and said, “If you want anything from the Lord, then you need to take the first step.” Now that caught my attention, but I quickly blew it off as a coincidence and opened up my can of tobacco and started to put some in my mouth. Just then, again the announcer breaks in over the music and says, “If you want anything from the Lord, then you need to take the first step.”
I then found myself saying to the Lord, “Ok, I’m going to take this as your way of saying that I need to do more than just ask for deliverance, so my first step will be to throw this can in the trash and I promise from this moment on I won’t dip tobacco or drink beer and I’m going to trust you to help me break this habit.”
As I walk into my house, my wife meets me and says that our friend who sings country music is playing at a local bar and she wanted me to hurry and get changed so that we could go listen to him. Well, me not wanting to tell her about my promise to the Lord, I just said I didn’t feel like going. But she wasn’t going to take no for answer, she said “We’re going!” (She actually had a lot more to say, but I can’t repeat it.)
As I went into the bedroom to change my clothes, I told the Lord, “Lord you know I can’t go dancing and not drink beer, so I’ll tell you what I’m going to do. I’ll stop the tobacco now, but I’ll stop the drinking tomorrow.
As soon as we enter the bar, we see and talk with our singer friend and family and we get a table up front. I order a few beers and I try to dance, but for some reason I felt like I had two left feet, so I go to our table and I get my beer. Just as I start to take a drink, this strange and awkward feeling came on me, so I set my beer down and tried to dance again. And again I just didn’t feel in the mood to dance, so I go to the table to try to take a drink of my beer.
This time as I start to take a drink, a different feeling came upon me, one that is hard to explain. I felt as if I was surrounded by something and I felt a fear that I’ve never felt before, so I place my beer down and I tried to dance again and I still couldn’t get comfortable on the dance floor. So thought to myself, “If I could just drink my beer, everything would get better. So I grabbed my beer determined to take a drink and just as it gets to my lips, a feeling of complete fear and panic comes upon me; a fear that puts every nerve ending on edge has come upon me and I look at my wife and I tell her, “You can stay and our friends can bring you home, but I got to leave.” I then run out of the bar almost sounding and looking like a madman.
My wife runs after me and as soon as I step outside the bar the feeling of fear and panic completely leaves me. My wife was quickly looking for an explanation for my actions, but I was so shaken up, I was asking myself, “What just happened to me, am I having a nervous breakdown or what?” My wife was speaking to me, but I couldn’t hear her, my mind was all on that feeling of fear and what was happening to me? It was a long drive home, as my wife was furious that I ruined her evening out, but I said nothing, I was just trying to think, what happened to me?
As we entered into the doorway of our house my wife grabbed my arm and asked me, “What is wrong with you? As I heard her question I saw the bible on the table and I grabbed it and I turned to her. I said, “I don’t know what’s wrong with me, but I think it has something to do with this bible. For almost a month I’ve been secretly reading it while everyone is asleep and also today I had promised the Lord that I would not dip tobacco or drink alcoholic anymore and tonight I was breaking that promise.”
The next morning, I got up and I started to the front room. My mind was rushing with all kinds of thoughts, in part I was still shaken up by last night’s event and I was feeling like I had made myself look like a fool in front of everyone. But as I walked by the bible on the table, I heard that inner voice saying, “You’ve been reading this secretly, now it’s time to read it openly.” So I grabbed it and walked into the front room, I sat down and I started reading it, while everyone looked a little shocked, but not too surprised considering last night’s happening. My wife then asked me, what I was doing and I repeated what the Lord said to me, “it’s time for me to read my bible openly.”
Just as I repeated those words, I felt the Lord say, “It’s also time for you to be in Church!” So I told my wife what I felt that the Lord had said, and she said she’d call her sister and see if we could go with her that Sunday evening.
As I was sitting in Church that evening, I was thinking to myself, “I guess this Christianity thing was going to work on me.” My life has not been the same since; and I thank God that it hasn’t. (And no, I no longer drink alcohol, use drugs or tobacco.)