September 24, 2011, twelve weeks after I met Greg, 5 1/2 weeks after being saved, Greg was arrested for public intoxication. Four days later, I sat on the park bench again with Greg. He told me the day before that there had been an argument between him and the Subway worker across the street. They had been letting him come in every now and then to get a free drink and occasionally a free sandwich.
Greg became bored this Saturday night and had started drinking in the shed he was sleeping in. He then wanted to get out and be downtown on the square to breathe fresh air, so walked there. He thought the girl working in the Subway was telling rumors on him and he went to ask her about this. Confrontation is probably a better word here. She told me one story and Greg told me another. He admitted that he had been drinking and probably said some things he shouldn't. The manager made him leave and banned him from their property for the next two years. Greg went back to the park. The police were called and they came down to talk with Greg. They saw he was drunk, and arrested him. He sat in jail for 5 hours and has had a $200 fine to pay.
While he and I were on the park bench after this incident, we had a long talk.
I knew he was a drinker, I knew all about his past. But this day was the first time he said has was an alcoholic. I suspected, but heard it out loud from him for the first time this day.
I know Greg is not a saint, I know he has had 46 years of living in a different world than mine. I know he wasn't just going to leap over into mine all at once. It is huge that he and I are even friends with such drastic worlds between us. I still believe God brought us together. I believe that Greg is saved. I also believe that he has a lot of baggage from the other world as well as bad habits and it is going to take time and grace and power of God to help Greg let go of the alcohol and all that brings with it. I believe he needs me to still be there as a friend who will not judge him, and yet hold him accountable and steer his thinking towards the Christian world he stepped into on the day of August 23, 2011. My husband is right there also as a friend to Greg and helping to hold him accountable.
I am sure when we believers stepped into that new world we were not perfect and messed up. We still do. We need grace and so does he. We might not have gotten arrested, but is it any different in God's eyes? If we want to look at how big his mistakes are, we also need to recognize how big it was of Greg to take that step into the believer's world from his, an ex-con, one who spent much time in prison, who spent his days with hardened people. It was huge for Greg to step over. It was huge for Greg to come to my large church and be baptized in front of all those people, knowing they knew who he was and was homeless. It is huge that he and I can sit next to each other, forming a friendship like we have. All this only from God. That's why I know there is hope for Greg. God is in this picture. I told Greg we just need to keep praying, calling out to God for help and strength, but he also had to step out and do his part too. This is where he struggles but knows that it is right.
Greg was going to two different churches on Wednesday mornings for bible study. He was going to church on Sunday mornings. He was volunteering twice a week at the Hope House. But for now, he has stopped. What he needs is to be discipled by strong Christian men. He needs to be kept busier. But he has to want to do this on his own.
I am not an alcoholic so I cannot understand the hold it has on one. I know that it is hard. But I know that my God can break it. Greg has to want it bad enough. He may have to feel really bad before it gets better. Greg told me yesterday (May 30, 2012), that He loves God with all his heart, that these chains don't change that fact. "I've just got to take it one day at a time. I'm tryin', I'm really tryin, don't give up on me", he said. I'll never give up on him. This is where Greg needs prayer. Prayer that God will break the chains of addiction and for Greg to be set free. With God, anything is possible! Do you believe this? If you do, I am asking you to commit Greg to prayer for this very thing. The chains holding him to Hell are gone. But the chains of alcoholism still has a hold. Undending love, amazing grace. . .this is what Greg needs now. I can't wait for the day I can write you all and tell you that Greg speaks these words with confidence. . .
"My chains are gone, I've been set free"
can you just imagine the testimony?!
I have seen Greg try so hard. I have seen Greg make wonderful changes and grow. I have seen conviction and repentance. Greg is still my friend and I still love him and always will. Pray he reaches out for the help he needs and for the chains to be completely broken. Pray for him to be set completely free.