When the oil field crashed and drilling rigs stopped drilling for oil in the Gulf of Mexico, I lost my job. Even though I was a first class machinist, there were no jobs to be found. I had to work the night shift in a restaurant as a line order cook at a golf course. I would do anything to earn an income.
Because of the depressed state of the economy and the scarcity of a good job, I turned to alcohol. It’s a cheap way to cope with depression. Rotgut wine, Colt 44, Tickle Pink wine…it’s all real cheap. You can even buy alcohol with unemployment money. I know. I’ve done it.
There are some folks that can have one or two drinks with the guys, have a beer during a backyard barbecue, or have a cold beer after mowing the lawn. It wasn’t that way with me. I drank until there was nothing left. I didn’t drink every day. I was a *binge drinker. I couldn’t drink every day because of the business I was in. Some alcoholics drink every day. I drank on the weekends if there wasn’t a job going on. This was my lifestyle until I was twenty-seven years old.
After being promoted from the machine shop to sales, calling on major petrol chemical plants and paper mills as a sales representative for a major machine shop, it was my responsibility to spend time with customers. During one of these business hosting events, and while on one of my benders (drinking spree), I remembered a Billy Graham Crusade I had watched a couple of weeks earlier. I knew what he was talking about, a personal relationship with Jesus, was something I had never experienced, and I knew in my heart that if I were to die I’d go to hell because I didn’t have Jesus in my heart.
The next morning I woke up my wife and said, “We’re going to church.” She laughed and said, “Is there a wedding? Did somebody die?” because we hadn’t been to church in years. So she said, “Where are we going?” I said, “There’s this Baptist church, and they’re having a revival meeting. I know, like on television on Billy Graham, they have what’s called an altar call at the end of the message. I have to do that. I have to go to the altar for prayer.” When the minister gave the altar call, although I don’t remember, I’m told I ran to the altar. The pastor said, “Yes, son, what can I do for you?” I told him, “I’m here to be saved.” His answer was, “You came to the right place.” Coming from the rough, plant welders, chemical environment, the first thing my co-workers noticed was that I didn’t curse anymore. Next, God took alcohol from me.
I went from a lost sinner to a lay preacher to an evangelist. Eventually, I became a Seminary student and then a Senior Pastor of a local church. I always say, “God has a sense of humor.” To say it another way, “God can hit straight licks with crooked sticks.” I figure if He can use somebody like me He can use anybody. My life totally changed after Christ came into my heart.
*heavy episodic drinking…the modern epithet for drinking alcoholic beverages with the primary intention of becoming intoxicated www.wikipedia.org