By: Al Wetzel, Church Chair
I was going to write about a cavemen Bible study group but that vignette was dropped when I heard the need for a story about “Giving up resistance to God for obedience to God”. It’s a story that’s easily recalled and at times I’m compelled to give.
From the age of nine to thirty-six there were probably a half dozen times when I could feel God calling me and a strong urge in me to yield, but I just couldn’t. In my youth my family, including cousins, aunts, uncles, and grandparents, attended a charismatic church. Sunday evening services were not fun; school was the next day, homework was not done AND there were altar calls. Altar calls were accompanied by the beckoning sounds of Softly and Tenderly played by the organist (typically the pastor’s wife), all heads bowed, and the preachers’ exhortations to prostrate ourselves at the altar and accept Jesus. Usually I shuddered at the experience, but one time when I was about nine, there was an overwhelming desire in me to heed the urging and accept Jesus at the altar. This same evening my cousin Tom was altar bound but I noticed my parents wanted to leave so I resisted the altar. Tom’s life became God filled, dynamic, and productive from that point on. For me, the urges became harder to feel and they lay dormant for many years.
It took twelve more years for me to feel God’s calling again…and in Vietnam of all places! I had been ‘in country’ for about four months so had become desensitized to just about everything. By this time the days and even months began to blend together, but there was a Sunday when my friend, Gerry, asked if I would accompany him to a missionary led church service held in an empty Quonset building. What’s to lose, so I went. There was an incredible feeling of peace that filled my heart and I pondered it for the remainder of the day. However, I put it aside and continued my crazy life.
Over the course of the following years my life got crazier but there were still a few times when I felt God calling and sensed a peace he alone could give. Unfortunately, alcohol does not like to share its dominion so I continued my increasingly downward ways until God said, “enough already”. Sometimes choices are imposed in a way where there is only one choice and for me it was to quit the booze. But it wouldn’t leave my mind – it was all I thought about. At my first AA meeting a friend, Doctor Dave, casually mentioned he had prayed for God to remove the urge to drink. That night under the oak tree I asked God to remove the urge to drink and that I give up and submit to whatever He gives me. Life started to make sense again. Nine days later I realized that I hadn’t thought of alcohol and it no longer controlled my thoughts. To this day I can feel completely comfortable in a ‘alcohol rich’ environment and not feel the need to partake.
What a deal, you give up some crazy thing to God and he gives you something over-the-top in return. For me it was the emptiness of alcohol addiction for a wonderful and loving family.