By Jill Wilder
I can only tell this story in second-person, but I was David’s wife for the last 9 years that he actively drank alcohol and for the 5 years that he was sober. This story is not about me; I am just the vessel that God has chosen to tell it. I will try not to be too long, but it’s hard to know what details to include and what to leave out. I know that David would want this story to be told, if it helps other alcoholics.
All I can really say about those first 9 drinking years is that for the most part it was hell. David has been a practicing alcoholic since his early teens. He was divorced and had 2 daughters when I met him. We actually met for the very first time at a treatment center. He was in his last couple of days of alcohol detox (2nd time) and I was just beginning my treatment for cocaine addiction. Later we met again at AA meetings and eventually married. David’s sobriety didn’t last long, thus beginning numerous cycles of hard drinking with brief periods of sobriety. I won’t go into a lot of details except to say the hard drinking periods resulted in 2 trips to jail for domestic violence while he was in blackouts, ending with a felony DUI and a 3rd trip to the same treatment center.
After David’s 2nd domestic violence arrest, we started attending church and made some close friends, David stayed sober. Life was good, but it wasn’t to last. David and I had both been raised in Christian homes, so we knew and believed in Jesus Christ.
Just to clarify, when I say “Christian” I am referring to a person who at one point in life admitted being a sinner, confessed those sins, and asked Jesus Christ to come into their heart and be Lord and Savior of their life. Faith in Jesus Christ is the only way to be saved.
The first church that we attended ended up splitting, because there was a conspiracy to oust the pastor. We left the church and did not go anywhere else for over a year. David once again fell off the wagon. Some of our closest friends had started going to another church in the area, so I went there by myself. David would attend services with me on the rare occasion, and people from the church would come out and visit us. There were some awesome prayer warriors at that church. They prayed often for David and for our family. David would try to stay sober, but he just couldn’t do it. No matter how hard he tried, he eventually went back to the bottle. He would try to hide how much he was drinking, but I always found the evidence.
Things got very bad in early 2001. Under the guise of helping an older man that used to live across the street and had some health issues, he was actually drinking with him. This man had been sober for a few years, but David enticed him to drink again. They became whiskey buddies. One fateful day, David said he was leaving for work but instead went to the liquor store, He ended up at his buddy’s house and had to call the man an ambulance because his buddy was having a heart attack. When David tried to leave, he bumped the ambulance with his big car. The EMTs called the police, who arrested David in our driveway. I had come home for lunch and witnessed the whole thing. I didn’t do anything to stop him from being arrested, because he was staggering drunk already and it was only noon. I wanted him to go to jail.
He went to jail for what was actually his 5th DUI, making it a felony. After spending the night in jail, he told me how he laid on the cold cell floor and prayed for Jesus to forgive him and to help him stay sober. He maintained his sobriety for only a couple of months, then it was right back to the hard drinking like before the DUI. One day I came home for lunch, and could tell right away he was in a blackout by the look in his eyes and the way he talked. My son was at school, so I had my mother pick him up and take him to her house. I left and didn’t go home after work.
Some may wonder why I stayed married to David through all the insanity. Well, during the really bad periods, I was clinging to God to get me through. I kept hearing in my spirit to just hang in there because God was going to work a miracle in David’s life. I didn’t want to miss the miracle, since I had already put up with so much. I prayed for a forgiving spirit and God gave me the strength to stay in my marriage.
Later that night, I did go home not knowing what to expect. David had sobered up some and was contrite as usual. But I, for one, had reached my limit. I told him that if he didn’t go back to treatment, I was done with our marriage. He allowed me to take him to the treatment center, but they had no beds available. He was able to return to treatment the next night, where he spent 7 days detoxing. That night he went into treatment for the 3rd time was actually his sobriety date, because he didn’t take another drink after that. But he still craved alcohol.
During his periods of sobriety, we had attended church together. We made a lot of close friends our age who were living true Christian lives. After David’s treatment, the men took David under their wings and discipled him. We attended Bible studies together and were becoming stronger Christians. We studied the book of James and learned about James 5:14-16.
14 Is any one of you sick? He should call the elders of the church to pray over him and anoint him with oil in the name of the Lord. 15 And the prayer offered in faith will make the sick person well; the Lord will raise him up. If he has sinned, he will be forgiven. 16 Therefore confess your sins to each other and pray for each other so that you may be healed. The prayer of a righteous man is powerful and effective.
David still struggled with a desire to drink. One Wednesday night, David asked some of the men in our church to come into the prayer room with him, anoint him with oil and pray for deliverance from his craving for alcohol. I don’t know how many men actually prayed over David that night. David did say that when one particular friend touched and prayed over him, that he felt like electricity go through his body and felt the Holy Spirit. What I do know is that from that moment on, David never craved alcohol.
David told me that the moment he knew he was really healed was the first time we went back to the river. That had always been a big drinking trigger for him. But this time, he didn’t even think about it until after we got home. David wasn’t sure if he was a Christian, so he gave his life to Christ and was baptized in our friends’ swimming pool by his Christian friends. He became involved with Alcoholics for Christ. We began working in the church and even served as youth ministers for a couple of years. God led us to a different church to help with the Celebrate Recovery ministry there.
As for David’s felony DUI, I saw God do many miracles during the time the case was going to trial, and during in the sentencing. Our Christian friends really showed their support by coming to court dates with David and writing letters of support to the judge. Everyone had witnessed the divine change in David. He was so excited about his salvation and his deliverance, people couldn’t help but be drawn to him. David ended up doing 6 days of a 10 day sentence, reduced from a possible year in prison. He had to pay a large fine, but only lost his drivers license for 90 days, instead of 5 years.
David continued to love and serve Jesus until God called him home in October 2006. I tell you his story so that you will understand something important. If you are a believer and a follower of Jesus Christ, then the words in James 5:14-16 are for you.
David was just a regular country boy who loved his family, Tennessee Vols football, NASCAR, wrestling, drywall finishing, and drinking alcohol. His father died from complications of alcoholism, and David was headed down the very same path. What made the difference was David’s faith in God’s word and his willingness to put God’s words into action.
I don’t know why David got healed and others don’t. God is God and I’m not. I just know that putting into practice James 5:14-16 enabled David to live the last 5 years of his life sober. All David ever really wanted in life was to be respected. He finally found that through sobriety. I am witness to that fact.
Thanks for staying with me for so long. My point of this long article is to say to the Christian alcoholic who still craves that there is hope for you. If you have some men in your life who have a close relationship with Jesus, ask them if they would be willing to practice James 5:14-16 on you. Believe that Jesus wants to set you free from the disease of alcoholism and accept God’s gift of healing. What do you have to lose?