I’m a drunk.
I slide my car, sleek like the night around me, into gear and drive. Tucking the half empty bottle of alcohol between my legs, I loosely grip the steering wheel, and rub my hands along its cold leather exterior.
Tonight, I am nobody.
I’m just a guy in a car.
No responsibilities… no guilt… no pain…
I feel the effects of the drink. Liquid happiness, they call it… and I agree. It makes me warm, in spite of the cold night.
I clutch with both hands at the bottle between my legs, bringing it desperately to my lips as I push my knee snug against the underside of the steering wheel to hold my car steady on the narrow road.
The stars alone witness me in this state of sublime chaos.
My tires kiss the rumble strips once. Quickly, I grasp the steering wheel and stare at my knuckles white with fear. In my haste, I drop the bottle to the floor of my car and can now feel the splash of liquid against my feet.
“I’m crazy…” I think, and then the thought somehow makes me smile. My drunken laughter momentarily drowns out the humming of my tires on the asphalt.
This is who I am.
I realized this last Sunday as I sat in church, after the pastor had presented the idea that God wanted us on the Highway of Saints. Closing my mind to the daydreaming, I glanced at the words in my Bible he had used to back up his thought.
“The highway of the upright is to depart from evil; he that keepeth his way preserveth his soul.” Proverbs 16:17
“I’m a drunk.”
I wrote it in my notebook, and immediately wondered if my bysitter had seen the words. Quickly, I closed the pages and shoved my pen back in my pocket, ashamed of who I was and what I’d written.
Closing my eyes, I allowed God to speak.
“My son, you’ve allowed the sins of this world to intoxicate your mind. You’re driving life’s highway drunk. And although those rumble strips jar you back to reality… sometimes rather harshly, I’ve placed them there out of love… to guide and protect you.”
I relaxed my head against the back of the pew and continued talking to God.
“Your life, who you are, Duane, is in a position you probably didn’t ask for… probably didn’t want. But I placed you there. Today, you’re driving drunk. And those watching can see it. Tomorrow, you don’t have to be driving drunk. You can hold up a standard. You can show the world what it means to live being departed from evil. You can show what it means to live sober.”
Solemnly, I flipped open my notebook and wrote these words:
“And in the face of all this chaos… this mess of who I am, God still loves me.”
If you had been my bysitter last Sunday, and happened to glance over at the words I was writing, you would have seen tear drops of humility and thankfulness had blurred these last words.