Tag Archives: Drunk

“This Chain that I Must Break”

"This Chain That I Must Break" (CaD Jud 2) Wayfarer

After that whole generation had been gathered to their ancestors, another generation grew up who knew neither the Lord nor what he had done for Israel.
Judges 2:10 (NIV)

He came up to me out of the blue. I was just sitting with Wendy when he tapped my shoulder and asked me to pray for him. “I’m drunk,” he said to me as I stood and put my arm around him. I didn’t really need him to tell me this. He reeked of it. It was a rather unconventional state to be in at a mid-morning worship service.

One of my favorite songs of all time is Bob Dylan’s Every Grain of Sand. It’s a song about those waypoints on life’s journey when I find myself utterly broken; That moment when I’ve hit rock bottom and I know that something has to change. And, it’s about the life-changing grace that is found in those moments. One of my favorite lines from the song says, “Like Cain, I now behold this chain of events that I must break.”

That line popped into my mind this morning as I read today’s chapter. The author of Judges continues his introduction to the book and introduces me to a chain of events, a systemic pattern, a repeated behavioral sequence that I will find recycled over and over again in the stories of the book of Judges.

Along this life journey, I have repeatedly found myself in negative cycles of both thought and behavior. I’ve faced trials along life’s journey that stemmed from difficult circumstances that were not of my own making. The truth, however, is that many of my rock bottom moments occurred because I put myself there.

That’s the overarching theme of these stories of the ancient Hebrew tribes and the period of their history known as the time of the Judges. They may be ancient stories, but they resonate with very immediate and personal lessons for me today. Civilization and culture may have changed in 3,000 years, but human nature has not. Bob Dylan sees himself in the story of Cain. I see myself in the stories of the Judges.

This brings me back to my new, intoxicated friend. I honestly wasn’t shocked by his drunken state. I immediately recognized that a man has to be at a rock bottom moment to show up for a worship service intoxicated and ask a complete stranger to pray for him. I was so glad he was there. I prayed for him and over him right there. Then I hugged him. With my arm still around him, I told him to look out over the group of people gathering in that room. I explained that we’re all broken people no different than himself, including me. I’ve had my own rock bottom moments when something needed to change. I welcomed him, and I encouraged him to keep joining us.

In the quiet this morning, I hear the lyric poetry of Bob Dylan in my head and heart:

I gaze into the doorway of temptation’s angry flame
And every time I pass that way I always hear my name
Then onward in my journey I come to understand
That every hair is numbered like every grain of sand

If you know anyone who might be encouraged by today’s post, please share.

Bonehead #1

bonehead

Chapter-a-Day Genesis 9

Then [Noah] cursed Canaan, the son of Ham: “May Canaan be cursed! May he be the lowest of servants to his relatives.” Genesis 9:25 (NLT)

The other day I wrote that God’s favor bestowed on Noah was not because Noah was so deserving. We see that come to fruition in today’s chapter as the post-flood story of Noah continues. Noah gets drunk, passes out naked in his tent, and amidst his hangover he ends up cursing his grandson, Canaan, to spite his son, Ham. “Nice. Well done,” I think to myself sarcastically. “Your grandson and his family have to live under a curse because of something you did and said in a drunken stupor. What a boneheaded thing to do.”

And yet, that’s just the point. People are people. We all do stupid, hurtful things in our lives and you can place me up to the front of the line of people with a track record of stupid stuff done. As much as I want to shake my head and point the finger of judgement at Noah, there are three more fingers on my hand pointing back at me. God has shown His love, grace, and favor to me just the same as He did with Noah – and I am no less of a bonehead.

Today, I am mindful of my own boneheadedness. As I head out to a day of meetings, dealing with co-workers, service workers, family members and drivers on the road – I am reminded of the undeserved favor that God has shown me, and to Noah. I think it’s appropriate to pass a little of that grace and favor forward to those I encounter in my day.

Chapter-a-Day Isaiah 25

Divine appointment at the airport bar. "And here on this mountain, God will banish the pall of doom hanging over all peoples, The shadow of doom darkening all nations. Yes, he'll banish death forever." Isaiah 25:7 (MSG)

Flying through Denver International airport last night, I sat and had dinner at the bar of a restaurant on the B Concourse where I could watch the Cubs get pounded by the Mets (being a Cubs fan requires a lot of faith). It was there that I met Joe, who was quite drunk and sitting to my immediate left. I instantly liked Joe. He seemed like a nice enough guy, even in his inebriated state. He was friendly and charismatic. Joe had been at the bar a long time. He'd missed two flights already according to the lengthy description of his day.

Joe talked a lot, and I got to know him quite well as I ate my caesar salad. He made his first million in Iowa. Joe had everything, it would seem. He was healthy and looked much younger than his early fifties (He thought we were the same age, and told me I looked much older than my age. Sometimes drunk people just can't filter things the way they should.). Joe was good looking. He clearly had a ton of money and all that it could buy. There were, however, two things Joe clearly did not have. He did not have a friend (I was it), and he did not have peace. Joe was alone. Joe had "the pall of doom hanging over all peoples." His spirit was tortured. I could see it in his eyes. It was in his posture. I heard it in his slurred words.

I listened to Joe's story. I learned of his many broken relationships. He told me about his inability to perform sexually with his young girlfriend. His life was a total mess. All the money and success were worthless to provide that which he truly needed. He was an empty shell of a man medicating himself from the pain of his soul. I tried to be a good friend and love Joe well in the few minutes that our lives touched.

Today, I'm praying for my friend Joe. I'm grateful for God's amazing grace in my own life, which I do not deserve. I'm thankful that Jesus came to banish death and it's morbid pall. I'm praying that I will be an instrument of God's peace, that where there is despair I can sow hope, and where there is darkness I can shed light.

Even at the bar on Concourse B.

Creative Commons photo courtesy of Flickr and drh