Sunday, December 12, 2010
Al-Anon Meets the Book
The old man sat in the coffee shop, Bible in hand, reflecting on the Advent church service just concluded. Call him Charlie.
He sat alone, but delighted to "watch the race", as he put it (the human race). Happy people, in the main, sipping hot drinks and talking of exciting holiday plans.
Two tables to his right there were two men, one middle-aged, the other twenty-something in denim, tattoos and pony-tail. The subject of their conversation was the younger one's girlfriend. Obviously a drinking problem. Totally unpredictable. And there was a baby involved. At times the young woman could not be trusted at all with the child's care. What was to be done?
Obviously the middle-aged man was a seasoned Al-Anon member, and this was a scheduled session of comfort and guidance. The eaves-dropping elder heard words like "unconditional love, patience mixed with firmness, being there for her, especially at this Season". The encouragement was commendable. But as with all sessions with this organization, no reference to Jesus. This presumably was to avoid fences and boundary lines.
After about fifteen minutes, Charlie felt the urge. He opened to Habakkuk 2:15:
15Woe unto him that giveth his neighbour drink, that puttest thy bottle to him, and makest him drunken also, that thou mayest look on their nakedness!
16Thou art filled with shame for glory: drink thou also, and let thy foreskin be uncovered: the cup of the LORD's right hand shall be turned unto thee, and shameful spewing shall be on thy glory.
Charlie sidled over to the other table. "Might I share something with you fellows?"
"Yeah, sure," said the young man. Charlie read the portion of scripture. "What do you think God's attitude is toward those who cause others trouble with booze?"
"Not too good, I guess."
"Do you think that his power is available to kick the thing?"
"Yeah, I would hope so."
"Do you think that He would come to the aid of any of his creatures on this, or just to those who have made a commitment?"
"Neither do I, son, but I'll tell you...in the forty years since I accepted Jesus as my Lord, I have never found God to leave me in the lurch without good reason."
(Charlie did not testify as to his drunken times. The failures in self-help. The weekends in the clink. The jobs lost. The first wife gone. All long ago. He wanted to focus on the sympathy and power of God, and not upon the grim resolve of men.)
The old man thanked the two for hearing him out. He slid a small pocket Testament of John's Gospel to the one: "Son my name and phone number are on the inside jacket. You are welcome to call...if you like." He tucked in his scarf as he headed toward the door.