In London, a seemingly hopeless alcoholic was placed under the care of a psychiatrist, but found little help. A Billy Graham evangelistic crusade was being held in that city and this hurting man was invited to attend. There he heard of God’s love for him and responded to the invitation to receive Christ as his Savior.
When this new convert was about to fall asleep that night, he reached for his bottle to take his customary last drink of the day but found himself unable to continue his old habit. Getting out of bed, he emptied the bottle of liquor down the sink drain. When he awakened in the morning he reached by force of habit for his usual bracer.
It was not there.
Rather than responding with disappointment or alarm, he found himself breathing a sigh of relief. He knew in that moment he’d been set free.
Grateful for what he knew was a genuinely fresh start, this newly emancipated addict phoned his psychiatrist and told him what had taken place the night before. “I am a new man,” he said.
“Sounds fine,” the psychiatrist relied. “Maybe I can find help where you found it.”
This counselor in need of counseling began attending the evangelistic meetings and was also moved by the message of God’s love. Like the patient he had lost, he opened his heart and found true peace in Christ.
Since the middle of the last century, our nation has been fighting a war on drugs. But we must not forget that alcohol use remains our most serious drug problem by far. In 2010 alcohol was linked to over 75,000 deaths in the U.S., nearly twice the number (38,329) of deaths of all other drugs, prescription or illicit. But there will be no war on our most dangerous drug because it is legal. Therefore, if progress is to be made on this great battleground, individuals in recovery from addictions and others who care enough will have to fight in the trenches where alcohol enslaves and destroys.
The list is long of those who have been set free from alcohol by faith. Among them is Jack Odell, a former director of Chicago’s Pacific Garden Mission. Describing the great change this freedom through faith can make, he wrote:
“If there’s music in you, you’ll sing because you finally have something to sing about. If there’s a book in you, you’ll write because you finally have something to write about. If there’s a capacity for service in you, you’ll begin serving because you have a Master to serve.
“Love? What was only shallowly provocative and lustful will become loveable and loving.
“If your gift is for hard work, you’ll work as never before: and happily so, because your energies are released and you have an indwelling Reinforcer. If your gift is for laughter, you’ll stop laughing at cruel things. Then your laugh will become warm and contagious, and other people will want to join you…
“You’ll be alive and creative and fulfilled for the first time.”
Odell said it well because he wrote from experience. The vacuum in his life that had chained him to alcohol had been filled by faith and he had been set free.
Roger Campbell is an author, broadcaster and columnist who was a pastor for 22 years. He can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org