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Published June 2014.

The Things That Matter

Alcohol no longer is the most important thing in his life

In the mid-1970's, when I was a teenager in southeast Roanoke, Va. I got saved every other Sunday at the altar of the small white Nazarene church I attended four days a week in that poor part of town: Wednesday night Bible study, Thursday night choir practice, Saturday social engagements, Sunday morning and evening worship services. I was a Sunday school and vacation Bible school teacher, drove my beat-up Buick LeSabre into an even poorer part of town to pick up welfare children, and attended summer church camps where I'd get re-saved (in case the first dozen times didn't take). God was then what mattered most in my life.

Being trustworthy, loyal, helpful, friendly, courteous, kind, obedient, cheerful, thrifty, brave, clean, and reverent – traits I remember and can recite to this day – were important to me when, as a 16-year-old, I walked to the front of that fluorescent-lighted room to be awarded the honor of Eagle Scout. In 1978, as an honor student and the first in my extended family to graduate high school, I was one of only four college-bound students out of a class of 600. I was distinguished as the hillbilly most likely to succeed. Discipline and achievement were what mattered most to me.

-- Ed L.

Wrightwood, California

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