Joel of Jerusalem Feb/Mar 1984
I am the vine, ye are the branches.. He that abideth in me, and I in him, the same bringeth forth much fruit; for without me ye can do nothing. John 15:5
I know a man who is a habitual drunkard. It is impossible to speak with him because he drinks day and night and is always as drunk as a sot.
I met him on one of the recent holy days as he was on his way to the synagogue, and he said to me, “’Today I am going to pay my debt to God.” I told him, “I know your great debt, and especially the debt of a man like yourself. You are going to make empty your bottle today, and tomorrow it will be full again.” He said, “Believe me, this is the last bottle, there will be no more. I have confessed this before you!” I asked, “Who am I that you should confess before me? True confession can only be made when you go before the Lord and speak to Him from the depths of your heart.” “How can I speak to God when l am so great a sinner? How can God forgive me after so many years of sinful living?” he asked.
This was the first time I had ever had an opportunity to speak seriously with this man, and I took it very seriously. After such a long time, he finally opened his heart and told me why he had started to drink. He said, “When my son was just a small baby, my wife left me and our son and took up with a rich man. You see, I was very poor. I then had the full responsibility of raising my son. It was difficult for him, as he grew older, to know that his mother was involved with other men, and she never even came to visit him. Where is the justice? I have had so many disappointments in my life, how can you expect me to be normal as other people who have had a good life, and here l am living like a dog. Because of all these terrible troubles, I turned to the bottle and it helped me forget everything.”
I then told him, “You have not found the true answer to your problems. Many people have great disappointments in life. It may not be the loss of a wife, as in your case, but there are many things which can cause sorrow. If you had the time for me to tell you everything that I have been through, you would kill yourself because the bottle would not be strong enough to make you forget it all. Since I am older than you by about fifteen years, I know that you did not experience the Holocaust, but I did. You have only seen the Warsaw Ghetto on television, but I was actually there, and I lost my entire family there. But look at me— I do not drink as you do, and I never will. I will never give up as you have done in what seems like an unconditional surrender. I am sorry to have to tell you that you are very weak.”’
“How do you keep yourself so strong?” he then asked, “it is good that you asked this,”’ I said. “First, let me tell you that I am not alone; there is someone who keeps me from giving up on life as you seem to have done.” “Who is He?” he asked, “Can He keep me also?” “Yes,” I answered, “’He can keep you as well if you will call on Him for help.” “Please tell me right now who He is,” he insisted. “It is God himself.”’ I told him. “Man is born to trouble, but when we turn to God and ask for His help, He will be very near to us. Without Him, you will continue to be as lost you are today. It is written in John 16:20,… ye shall be sorrowful, but your sorrow shall be turned into joy. i would be glad to have you come to my home today, and we would have a chance to talk and get to know one another better.”’
And so he and his young son came to my home and shared a meal with my family. It was very hard for him to eat without having a drink of alcohol along with it. Before we began to eat, we gave thanks to our Savior, and our guest could see that we were all very happy. After the meal I said to this poor man, “I have told you all the troubles which were in my past, and yet you can see how happy I am now. I received the Lord as my Savior, but you are living without faith, and look at how you are.” He then said, “Yes, I can see that you are happy, but this faith which you have is not because you believe in Jesus, because He cannot be our God. He cannot help us. He does not have such power.”
I then said, “Because you have brought up the name of Jesus, I would like to speak with you about Him, going slowly, step by step. You said that Jesus has no power,and I realize that everyone in this country has grown up thinking this, but you are not drunk now and you can hear what I am about to say and read.” He then became very serious, and I read lsaiah 53:6, “AII we like sheep have gone astray; we have turned every one to his own way, and the Lord hath laid on him the iniquity of us all.” I then asked, “Who do you think this is speaking of, if not Jesus himself? Why is the truth so far from you?”
At that point, I took him to a room where we could be alone together and he would have more freedom to speak. Suddenly he started to cry, and he continued to weep for a very long time. When he regained his composure, what he said came not only from his mouth but also from deep within his heart, for he cried, “O Lord, help me, heal me, and take me out of this darkness where I have been for so long.” When he at last opened his eyes, he seemed surprised and asked, “What happened to me? Am I drunk again?” “No,”’ I told him, “you are not drunk, you are well.” “Then why have I been weeping? What is wrong with me? Why am I so weak?” he asked. “You are strong now.”’ I assured him. “Now you wilt know the truth of that which is written in Psalm 112:1, ‘… Blessed is the man who feareth the Lord….’ It is also written, ‘The fear of the Lord is the beginning of knowledge…’ [Prov.1:7]. Now you will start to be a real man, with wisdom, a man who knows the Lord. If you truly receive Him, the opinion of people toward you will change, and I am sure you will be strong enough that the bottle will not gain the victory over you. It may even be that your wife, the mother of your son, will return to you. But you must not let Satan have power over you and hinder you from trusting in the Lord.”’
After this he asked, “How can I stop drinking all at once?” I replied, “You can if you will turn with all of your heart to the Lord, and then, believe me, there will be no power in the world that will lead you back to drinking.” He then said firmly, “Now I am stronger than the power of Satan over me. He can no longer rule my life. I am going to go to my wife and tell her what has happened to me and why I am finished with the bottle!” He again started to cry, but this time it was from joy.
Please pray for this man, that the Lord will keep him and that he will be able to resist the temptations of Satan. Pray also for his young son and that this family will be reunited.