I've been T-Total now for about 1 year. I've felt the benefits from it in many ways, but most importantly, the calming of 'The Beast' within me.
When I was a really heavy drinker I would get through a bottle of Vodka, a few pints of lager, a few shots and a bottle/s of wine in 1 day. I would do this at least 4/5 times a week. The other days I would 'just' have a few pints, some wine and some shots. When I started to follow Jesus I struggled to stop drinking. The turning point was my baptism. After my baptism I gave up smoking. I didn't give up drinking, I just stopped drinking so heavily, but seemed to have the ability to control the desire to get drunk. I know that the Holy Spirit was giving me the strength to control the desire to get drunk. Looking back now, I know He was telling me to stop drinking altogether, but I didn't want to give it up.
As the months went on, my love and walk with God developed and deepened. And as it deepened, so did the continuous rage within me to get drunk. I would have a glass of wine at dinner and be desperate to finish the whole bottle in one sitting. Sometimes I would and sometimes I wouldn't. Sometimes I would try and think of ways in which I could have quite a bit to drink without raising alarm bells with Sarah (although she always knew, just never made a big deal. She wanted me to figure it out on my own. She wanted me to finally give in to God). When I became an evangelist I suddenly realised the responsibility I had to people around me and how my actions have an effect on those around me. Unfortunately I slipped into 'holier than thou' mode and said some really stupid, arrogant and bigoted things.
All this time 'The Beast' within me continued to rage. I would still be looking for ways to have a drink, and, looking back now, as I'm writing this, I realise that alcohol had such a strong grip on me. I realise how sneaky I would try and be sometimes just so I could have more than one drink. See that was the problem that I was trying to cover up. I would have one drink, but that one drink was never quite enough. I could have one, go home and go to bed, but I would be thinking 'if only I could have had another one'.
Now don't get me wrong, I wasn't always drunk or drinking over the last few years. The point is that my desire was that I could be drunk and drinking all the time. 'The Beast' wanted me to give in and God by His grace controlled that rage within me, but every time I had a drink, the rage got really powerful and occasionally I would give in. I wouldn't get blind drunk like I used to, but I would have more to drink that I should have. It was more than I should have had because I know I was trying to satisfy this desire for alcohol.
You know when you want something. When you really REALLY want something. All you can think about is this thing that you want. It is always on your mind. You think of ways in which you can get it. Sometimes you know your desire for it is unhealthy, then in the next thought you rationalise it and convince yourself that it is normal to desire something this much. Sometimes your desire for it subdues, and life goes on as normal, but deep down, in the depths, this desire still burns, still rages and you wonder how you will ever live with this desire unless you feed it. Sometimes you mange to feed it but the next day it is hungry again, still raging within...and so it goes on. This is 'The Beast'. It wants to consume me. Lord help.
Then about 1 year ago I was praying and I felt God speak to me about Samson. His mum was told by God not to drink any wine while she was pregnant. 'No wine shall pass your lips'. I felt God say to me 'I want you to be the same for the rest of your life. No alcohol is to ever pass your lips again.' In many ways it felt like a correction from God. I felt disciplined. So I spoke to Sarah and she smiled at me and said 'finally'. It makes me want to cry just writing that coz I can see her face now when she said it, a face of relief and joy that I had finally listened to God.
I went out for the day to East Mersea and sat in the middle of a field and prayed. I wrestled with God. I got home, sat and spoke to Sarah about all that I had experienced and then made a vow that I would be T-Total.
Since that day I have experienced a freedom that I can't really describe. It is as if the beast has been put to sleep. Sometimes I have felt a slight movement from it, but it is not the rage that I used to feel but a temptation. I know that I can never drink again because it would spiral out of control. I am thankful for what God has done in my life in giving me the freedom and grace to no longer be a slave to alcohol. Only by His grace can I know this freedom. But know it, I do.
I don't believe all people should be T-Total. But I do believe that we all need to be honest with ourselves if we are wrestling with a 'Beast', whether it is alcohol or whatever. It may be that you are ok with it. It may be that you can control it.
I realised that my worship of God was being directed to 'The Beast'. I am now discovering how to direct my worship to God now the beast is out of the picture. It is a journey I am finding hard yet rewarding.
Please God, I need your grace. Help me to worship you with a greater passion and commitment that I ever gave the beast. Help me to love you with all that I am. Amen