Grapevine Online Exclusive

From the March 2011 magazine.

Dry and on Fire

Not drinking wasn’t enough. Getting a sponsor made his program really take off

I took what I hope is to be my last drink on the fifth anniversary of my young wife’s death, in the early morning hours of December 10, 1988. That last drink, from a pitcher of beer that didn’t even belong to me, was immediately followed by my third drunk-driving arrest. Later that same morning, after my release from jail, I was to experience the beginning of a spiritual release of far greater importance. I knew my life was spiraling out of control and I felt absolutely helpless to stop it.

I was at a bottom, or what I was later to hear described as the “jumping-off place,” and I wished for the end. Too big of a coward I suppose to really take my own life, I couldn’t imagine living another day the way I had been living; yet I didn’t know what to do differently. I literally sat at the turning point on my family room sofa feeling hopelessly defeated. In utter despair I called out to a God that I hadn’t consciously attempted to contact in many years. With tears streaming down my face I said simply, “God, you’ve got to help me.” That was the beginning.

-- Jerry E.

Naples, Florida

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