I had a rough day yesterday. Hungry, Angry, Lonely, Tired. HALT may be a familiar acronym to some of you. Any of these are conditions to one must be on alert. I had all of them. What did I do? Thankfully, I remembered lessons that I have learned from times past. No, not the ones to eat my way through it or get drunk. There are other ways. There is a story from AA that really sticks in my mind. It is of the very beginning of the organization when Bill was at a crisis point. It is what led to the very first meeting. The setting involves Bill, a hopeless alcoholic who by the grace of God had been granted sobriety. That sobriety was being tested with a very bad business dealing.
Alcoholics Anonymous p. 154-155
Bitterly discouraged, he found himself in a strange place, discredited and almost broke. Still physically weak, and sober but a few months, he saw that his predicament was dangerous. He wanted so much to talk with someone, but whom?
One dismal afternoon he paced a hotel lobby wondering how his bill was to be paid. At one end of the room stood a glass covered directory of local churches. Down the lobby a door opened into an attractive bar. He could see the [happy] crowd inside. In there he would find companionship and release. Unless he took some drinks, he might not have the courage to scrape an acquaintance and would have a lonely week-end.
Of course he couldn’t drink, but why not sit hopefully at a table, a bottle of ginger ale before him? After all, had he not been sober six months now? Perhaps he could handle, say, three drinks – no more! Fear gripped him. He was on thin ice. Again it was the old, insidious insanity – that first drink. With a shiver, he turned away and walked down the lobby to the church directory. Music and [happy] chatter still floated to him from the bar.
But what about his responsibilities – his family and the men who would die because they would not know how to get well, ah – yes, those other alcoholics? There must be many such in this town. He would phone a clergyman. His sanity returned and he thanked God. Selecting a church at random from the directory, he stepped into a booth and lifted the receiver.
His call to the clergyman led him presently to a certain resident of the town, who, though formerly able and respected, was then nearing the nadir of alcoholic despair.
I wasn’t wrestling with cravings for booze. However, my spirit was troubled, and I was Lonely, like Bill. Discouraged (Angry?), too. Tired. And, yes, Hungry. The choice Bill made that day was just as important to me yesterday as it was to him. I chose to go to The Fortress. There, I heard a wonderful testimony. I spoke with several men and got to share the gospel of hope with them. I needed that.
You see, the gospel is balm to the giver and the willing receiver. Certainly, it is like sandpaper to those with blind eyes and stopped ears. To those who are open to it, it is life. I’m reminded of a couple verses:
Romans 1:16 For I am not ashamed of the gospel, for it is the power of God for salvation to everyone who believes, to the Jew first and also to the Greek.
1 Corinthians 1:18 For the word of the cross is folly to those who are perishing, but to us who are being saved it is the power of God.
I don’t recall how Bill’s business dealings worked out. My guess is that it doesn’t matter. It doesn’t matter to me, and it probably didn’t matter to him. What mattered is that the gospel was shared. The same is true with what was troubling me. My thing may go down in flames. Would it be nice if God answered my prayer otherwise? I think so. But, if he doesn’t, it’s no matter. I need to keep my eyes focused on Jesus’. My cares of this world get me down. So, to utilize another thing from AA, I need to recite and live this prayer.
God, grant me the serenity to accept the things I cannot change, courage to change the things I can, and the wisdom to know the difference. Amen.
Glory be to God for the gospel! Thank for Father, Son, and Holy Spirit for having mercy on this broken man. Amen.