Packer Football & Pabst Blue Ribbon
Updated: May 9
When God Takes Something Away – Leave It!
Has God ever taken something away from you?
Something you asked Him to take away?
Did you ever take it back? I did.
I grew up in Green Bay Wisconsin just six blocks from the Packer Stadium. Two of my dad’s brothers also lived in Green Bay near the stadium so every Sunday, when there was a home game, they took turns hosting each other’s families on game day. And there was always a traveling keg of Pabst Blue Ribbon beer. They would haul it from house to house and ice it down in time for the game. My cousin and I got drunk for the first time at my uncle’s house.
The keg was in the basement and the families were upstairs yelling at the TV. We’d sneak downstairs, drink some beer then go back to watch more football. By the time the game ended, we were both in the basement. My dad came
down to get me. He found me with my head in the toilet puking my guts out and my cousin doing the same in the basement floor drain. Surprisingly neither one of us got in much trouble. My dad and his brother figured a 12-year-old with a hangover was punishment enough. You’d think I would have sworn off alcohol for the rest of my life after that... I didn't.
I joined the Air Force right out of high school to keep from getting drafted. It was 1971 and Viet Nam was still going on. I didn’t drink much in high school, but then I got stationed at K.I. Sawyer Air Force Base in Marquette Michigan. Marquette was a college town 20 miles north of the base. At that time, it was considered a “Remote Assignment” meaning no females were stationed there. (don’t ask, I don’t know either.) I was nineteen, single, and living in the barracks. Going into town looking for a date was a waste of time. In the 1970’s war protests against Viet Nam and the military reached every part of the country, even in the frozen north of Upper Michigan. Any guy who walked into a bar in town with short hair had to be from the base. We were not liked by the students or the locals. So, we all hung out in the barracks dayroom watching TV and we drank, and played cards, and drank, broke out our guitars, sang Rock & Roll and war protest songs, and drank. Or sometimes we just drank. I got really good at drinking. I also started smoking. I got really good at that too.
Laurie and I met in 1969 while on summer vacation. She was 15. I was 17. We got married in 1975. Getting married didn’t change my drinking or smoking habits. Laurie drank on occasion and never smoked. After 10 years she decided she couldn’t stand the smell of cigarette smoke in the house anymore. So, I spent most nights in my garage working on something or other so I could drink and smoke unmolested, sometimes opening my third pack of cigarettes before the end of the night. In my garage one evening I finally decided I had to quit smoking. It was no good for me or our marriage. I asked God to take away my desire to smoke. I didn’t ask Him to HELP me quit, as if I had the fortitude to accomplish it on my own. I asked Him to take away the DESIRE. After three days, having flushed the nicotine out of my system, I was done. Forty-five years later I still have never had another cigarette.
So, as I had done with cigarettes, I now did with my drinking addiction. I was powerless to quit on my own, so I turned it over to God. With a broken and contrite heart, I ended my prayer with, “Father, take away my desire to drink alcohol” and He did. I was not temped to sneak an occasional sip of anything, people around me could order a cocktail when we went out to dinner, and I wasn’t tempted. He freed me from the desire! He took my sin of alcoholism and threw in in the “Sea of Forgetfulness” never to be recalled again. It was all His doing.
You will again have compassion on us; you will tread our sins underfoot
and hurl all our iniquities into the depths of the sea. Micah 7:19
Then, around the Christmas holiday, we went out to dinner with friends. I started bragging about how I had quit drinking. I had gone eight months without a drink, so I decided I could have one glass of wine with my meal, and that’s all it took. I used the word “I,” taking credit for something only God could have done and did. I imagine at that moment God decided if I was going to take credit for something He did, then He would release me to handle it on my own. You can imagine how well that worked out!
In my pride, which the Bible says is one of the things God hates the most, I took credit for the work of His hands. The bible says...
Everyone who is proud in heart is an abomination to the
Lord; Assuredly, he will not be unpunished. Proverbs 16:5.
The pride of man will be humbled and the loftiness of men will be
humiliated; And the Lord alone will be exalted in that day. Isaiah 2:17
What a fool I was. It was years later; and for many reasons, that I finally humbled myself again, asked for forgiveness, and turned my addiction back over to Him. People in Alcoholics Anonymous (AA) meetings introduce themselves in this way. “Hi, my name is Randy Grathen, and I am an alcoholic.” I guess I will always be an alcoholic who doesn’t get drunk anymore. But I also know this, I will never again take credit for having quit drinking.
Kenny Chesney sings this verse that described my drinking problem perfectly.
"One is one too many, one more is never enough."
Don't go fishing in the Sea of Forgetfulness.
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