“If the Son sets you free, you are truly free.” ~ John 8:36
Fifteen or more years ago, Dan, my husband and I, had a most memorable evening. We both served as pastors for a church in Adams County, and it was a typical Wednesday night. We were gathering for our Mid-week activities. The place was bustling with folks of all ages coming into the building for Bible Studies, Teen and Children Activities.
It was a fall evening and it was already getting dark outside. Just about the time we were moving from the entry-way to our sanctuary, in ran “Sue”, a regular attender. She ran past us and headed straight to the bathroom. It appeared she was crying. Following her, came her husband, “Joe”. I was surprised to see him, as he rarely attended. This evening, Joe was in a state of complete drunkenness. He had sunglasses on and staggered towards my husband. When they came face to face, he removed his sunglasses and said, “Preacher, this is the real me- I am a drunk! Can you help me?” It seemed as though time stood still for a moment. I recall thinking, “They didn’t teach THIS in Bible School.”
I went to check on Sue who explained that a huge fight had taken place as she was leaving for church. Joe was drunk and she confronted him on his drinking and of her plans to end the marriage.
She couldn’t take it any longer. In his desperation, he insisted on accompanying her to church.
After a few words of support and a hug, Sue gathered herself together and went into the Bible Study that had just begun.
I joined my husband, whom I found in a room with Joe, and a few other folks who were lending support and encouragement to Joe.
As Joe poured out his struggles and again, asked my husband for help, Dan lovingly and matter-of-factly said, “Joe, the first thing you must do is surrender. You must give your life, your marriage and your addiction to Christ. He can and will heal you, but you must give Him the opportunity to do so.”
Immediately, without instruction, Joe knelt down on his knees, making the padded folding-chair, his altar. With tears and snot flowing, he did exactly that- he surrendered his life to Christ. (Everyone in the room had tears and snot flowing, I might add.)
After some time, Joe regained his composure, sat back in his chair. We spent the next hour or so talking and encouraging Joe and giving him other resources to help him on his new journey.
Then Joe said, “Preacher, now you need to come to my house so I can get rid of some things.” The two left together immediately.
Several hours later, when Dan returned home, he said that Joe asked him to help him dispose of all alcohol and drugs that he had in his home. Joe told him that all drunkenness and a desire for alcohol or drugs left immediately when he prayed the prayer of surrender.
The next Sunday, Joe accompanied his wife to church. He became a faithful member; attending mission trips and always willing to tell others of his testimony. Not only did God change this man’s heart and life, he also healed their marriage.
What I learned during this memorable evening are a few things:
-It important to be “real” and admit your need of help.
-Surrendering everything to God is where it must begin.
-We need one another.
-God is faithful and desires to set us free.
I recognize that freedom does not come to everyone as quickly as it did for Joe. I have also supported and walked through recovery with those who needed in-patient treatment and weekly support (which I encourage). But I believe, the four points mentioned above are true, no matter how you get free. The most important part is freedom is available for all who seek it.