Alcohol, Idolatry, and Sleepless Nights

I mentioned in passing recently that in my adoption process I had become so stressed for a while that I couldn't sleep without a shot of alcohol to knock me out many nights. Well, now I'd like to share about how said alcohol became an idol.

First of all, my father has German and Swiss roots and alcohol is just simply a normal part of his life, and therefore it has been for me as well since I was relatively young. Not abuse of alochol by any means. My father seldom had more than one beer per day, and now drinks mostly whiskey, but even that without any kind of regularity and seldom more than one. In the last year or so I began drinking more regularly than I used to. Having on average a beer or two per night.

Yes there was the occassional three, in fact for years I have limited myself to just drinking beer on the weekends, because it's so easy for daily beer to become two beers and two to become three. But I was stressed, and that was the excuse I used for drinking more than usual.

Now for the record, I do not (personally) see one to three drinks a night as abuse (maybe it is for you, please don't allow me to justify a sin for you). A recent New York Times article suggests that if a man is to obtain the full benefit of alcohol he should drink four drinks per day. Four seems a bit much to me.

Anyhow, about six months ago I started to feel like the Lord was encouraging me to drink less. But I would push back and argue, "This isn't too much, why are you suggesting less?" Or think, "This must not be God, why would He tell me to stop drinking reasonable amounts of alcohol."

Well, first of all, arguing with the Lord rather than just listening isn't ever the best idea. That was my first mistake. But finally around December, in discussion with a friend about it, I tuned in to the fact that alchol had become what I was turning for comfort. I couldn't sleep. So I'd take a quick drink of alcohol to knock me out at night. It worked. But I wasn't getting any better. I was stressed as stressed could be. More than I had ever been in my life. Stressed and arguing and wrestling with the Lord in prayer over my boys. Why won't He just open up the heavens I know He is powerful enough to open and make them come home?

Well, with the revelation that this had turned in to idolatry, I immediately stopped drinking during the week. This also helps control how much I'm drinking. But the more interesting thing is how quickly I began to find peace. Comfort. God is the Great Comforter afterall. Alcohol is something the Lord created, and it makes for a good drink (in moderation) and a crappy God.

I was at the same time convicted that I should confess this to my team. I did. I think confession is something we miss much too much in our Christian circles these days. As a necessary hallmark for revival I wish we would confess our sins and pray together more often than we do. But we as Christians think we save ourselves through our own righteousness, and like it or not, this our reason not to confess—because we miss/forget/misplace/misuse/abuse/deny the gospel. Thinking lack of confession proves we've got our act together, and our sinlessness is our ticket to heaven. But the wonderful gospel that says we NEED a savior.

Confession and my desire to see more of it is a large part of why I want to share this here too. Especially because I do talk about beer here. I like beer, I don't think everyone should drink, but I definitely believe the freedom to partake is a gift and freedom from the Lord. That said, it's also been interesting for me to see how the Lord taught me that abuse of something is not necessary for it to become idolatry. All that's needed is a sinner's heart.

It's been about two months now, and I'm sleeping better than I have in a while. My heart is torn over my boys. I still wrestle in prayer with God over my sons. When will they come home? I still don't know. But my heart is at peace. I'm with the Great Comforter and it's much better than being an moron pursuing comfort elsewhere.

I'm also writing this for my own benefit. Me of the future: if you find you're not at peace, who/what are you seeking for peace? And if it's not the Lord, you idiot, of course you're not finding it.

Thank you Lord for your comfort. Thank you for your peace. Thank you for your grace and the graciousness of my teammates when I told them I've been a fool. And thank you for delicious beer. Help me to say thanks to you when I partake rather than thanks to it.