Saturday, February 28, 2004


What are the odds?

The first time I got drunk I was 12 years old. I was sitting next to the neighborhood railroad tracks with one of my brothers and a friend. We had a six pack of "tall boy" beers. I drank two.

My friend threw up.

I laughed a lot and wondered if we could get more beer somewhere.

Both of my parents were alcoholics, one of my great-grandfathers was as well. My brothers and I battled alcohol most of our lives.
These days, one of my brothers attends AA meetings, and has been sober for 15 years. The other drinks very infrequently, if at all.

I quit drinking for ten years, but in recent years - except during this season of Lent when I abstain entirely - I have allowed myself a few glasses of wine.

I have rules. I only drink wine, and I have vowed never to lose control.

For the past two years I have had no problem abiding by those restrictions.

What are the odds?

I started taking illegal drugs when I was 12 or 13. One of my brothers and some friends gave me some pills...downers, seconol to be precise. We called them "reds" and soon found someone to sell them to us like candy...four for a dollar. We gobbled them down with the short sighted sense of abandon reserved for the very young...and the very stupid.

When I was 14, my parents died. I used drugs and alcohol to escape my pain. Not being one to change course often, I stuck to that plan for 17 more years.

There were some setbacks along the way.

I ran my 1967 Camaro into a fire hydrant when I was 17. It was broad daylight in the middle of suburbia. There was no other traffic. My car was packed with kids all smoking pot and I simply forgot I was driving. I veered across a road, ran up in someone's yard, and slammed into the fireplug...head-on.

I was stoned out of my mind, but no charges were filed. No one was hurt.

I was arrested for minor drug possession when I was 18, but the charges were dismissed on a technicality. I was guilty, but not in the eyes of the legal system.

I wrecked that same Camaro a year or so later. I ran into in a 400 pound pig head-on on a deserted farm road while racing to a liquor store in the middle of the night to buy beer before the store closed. I was drunk at the time. There was a 16 year old girl in the car with me, but friends came and took her away before police arrived.

I wasn't arrested. No one was hurt, except the pig. She was dead at the scene.

I drove drunk often for years. When I was 19, the practice landed me in jail for a few hours. I called a bondsman that night and was released. He drove me home. I got out of his car and walked back to the police station, still in my car and drove back to my house. I hired a lawyer and pled no contest. I was put on a form of probation known as "deferred adjudication" which meant if I kept my nose clean for a year the entire incident would be forgotten.

I left court, went home...and got drunk with friends to celebrate.

There were many, many close calls after that, but I was never arrested again. I never had another drunk driving or drug related accident.

What are the odds?
Throughout much of my college career I was surrounded by people whose lives revolved around drugs entirely. There was no distinction between being high and reality...being high was reality.
My brothers were much the same.

Today, both of my brothers are infected with hepatitis C, a disease you can contract several ways - promiscuous sex and sharing drug needles are two of the most common. That disease may kill my brothers one day. It will kill a lot of people who lived similar lives.

I certainly wasn't sexually pure, but for whatever reason I always avoided intravenous drugs. Despite the fact I lived life without any thought to my own safety or those around me, I do not have hepatitis.

What are the odds?

I married a woman when I was 28. She was an alcohol and drug abuser, as was I. Although we were married in the church, neither of us had a commitment to God. We barely had a commitment to each other. It took us less than two years to admit our marriage had failed. We divorced, and I spent the next 6 years or so escaping from the pain of failure in the manner with which I was most adept...drugs and booze.

This week, Amy and I will celebrate our tenth year of marriage. A union grounded in love and centered in Christ.

What are the odds?

I was an avowed atheist for most of my life, at least I thought so. Looking back now, I realize you have to at least believe in God in order to hate Him, but that distinction was lost on me for many years.

Before I met Amy I decided to change. I quit drinking and drugs. I started exploring my beliefs.

Soon I became a member of a church. I eventually became a Sunday school teacher. Today I serve as a Deacon.

What are the odds?

This is the season of Lent, a season of repentance, but that's not why I'm detailing these facts about my life today. My family and friends are already aware of the shameful aspects of my past. I have repented for these sins long ago.

I have been forgiven.

I wanted to write this today because this morning I read an article about a physicist who believes he has figured out the odds that God exists. He pegs the chance of God's existence at 67 percent. Better than two to one.

I picked up the newspaper this morning and saw that headline.

I laughed a lot.

I don't know what criteria this man of science used to reach his conclusions. I'm sure he went to great lengths and torturous detail. There are certainly complex formulas involved, which no doubt he is willing to explain to all who will listen or buy his book.

I won't be among them. I have another approach.

I need only look back at my life.

I see the huge mistakes I have made which defy numerical value. I recall the countless times I was spared pain that I truly deserved.

I look toward my future and see my wife, my stepchildren, my church, my friends, and an infinite number of other blessings to come.

What are the odds that God exists?

I have no need to even ask that question.