I grew up and learned religion. So of course, my home was a dry household. And then I worked for a pastor who never taught that alcohol was evil, but he surely acted as if it were, and expected his staff to as well. It started me thinking.
Eventually, we had children in our alcohol free home, and it was good, of course. Until God intervened.
On one of my regular retreats, on a solo camping trip, God woke me up in the middle of the night and warned me that I was failing my children. OK. he had my attention.
I crawled out of the back of the pickup where I was sleeping so I wouldn’t fall asleep in the middle of our conversation. Sure enough, the little voice, the impression in the back of my head continued:
“In a few years, your children will be entering junior high school. They won’t be out of your influence, but there will be many other influences there. Some of them, and you know what this is like, will invite them to discover beer, to discover drunkenness.”
And then he dropped the big one. “And you’ve done nothing to prepare them for that temptation.”
My heart sank. I knew he was right. But he didn’t let me sink there. After a moment or two, my mind began to fill up with perspectives and ideas and insights.
One of them caught me seriously off guard. He reminded me that I loved barbecue, but I was frustrated: a great steak was NOT complimented by a glass of milk, or by a CocaCola.
Oh my. Seriously?
But then I had visions (pictures) of what could happen. I saw better barbecues which led to better fellowship. I saw my children - my family - separating themselves from the religious spirit that accompanies many alcohol-free homes. And then I saw my son, in junior high school, being approached to step behind a barn and share a Budweiser with him, and my son responded with, “Beer? That’s not beer. That's cat piss! Let me tell you about real beer!”
Oh my. I remind you that this is in the middle of the night, in the middle of the woods. I remind you that while I had tasted beer before (and not liked it), I had never had a glass of beer. I remind you that I was really comfortable in my no-alcohol religion.
And here’s God, telling me not just to drink beer, but to become educated about beer. And God was telling me to (gasp!) give beer to my school-age children, and to (gasp!) listen to their opinions about the stuff!
That was fifteen or twenty years ago, and it has been a glorious success (as if it’s surprising that God’s plans work!). I became a far better father than I had been before! And the beer? I had no idea of the variety. I still don’t love all kinds, but there are some that are pretty good, and there are some that make a good barbecued steak into a great barbecued steak. Who knew!
Oh, and that vision about my son telling his tempter, “Beer? That's not beer!” Yeah, that happened, though it looked different than the way I imagined it. And now he brings both life and excellence into a world I'd never reach, to people for whom alcohol is pretty important.
I’m not trying to say, “You need to drink beer!” Oh heck no! Don’t do that (unless God speaks to you the way he spoke to me). My obedience included learning about beer, but others' obedience involves not drinking beer.
I’m trying to say, “It’s a really good idea to do what God says, even if it’s really weird!”
Oh, and let me add: God the Father has some really good insights about how to be an excellent parent. I encourage you to learn from his wisdom on that topic!