(Content Warning: Alcohol and a really bad wreck)
Every night, my family tries to do family worship. It can be hard to corral eight kids around the dining room table to listen to my dad read the Bible, but we try our best, and a lot of great questions are asked. Tonight, we were talking about submission to authority, and what to do when you are being mistreated. After worship was over, my 12-year-old sister, Chloe, asked Dad about a verse. (I’m not sure what verse it was, but it was in the New Testament somewhere.) It talked about how wives should submit to their husbands, and sparked a conversation about abusive marriages and self-defense. My dad told a convicting story that I am going to share with you.
James Roscoe Harden was a good kid. He lived out in the country with his two sisters, two brothers, and two parents, and raised animals and crops to keep the family going. He was a hard worker, and he and his older brother, Willie, helped their father out with the chores. Unfortunately, when Roscoe was in 8th grade, his father passed away. Roscoe and Willie dropped out of school to keep the farm running, and worked hard to help their mother.
When Roscoe grew up, he joined the Navy, and served for four years. Have you ever heard the term “cuss like a sailor”? Well, it certainly applied to all the sailors Roscoe worked around. He was a good guy, but that didn’t stop him from picking up a word here and there. It was around this time he was also introduced to alcohol.
After serving in the Navy, Roscoe settled down with Betty, and they had a child, James Allan. It started out as a happy marriage, but Roscoe had a short temper, and more often than not, let loose a string of words in the heat of the moment. More than once, Betty was ready to take everything and leave, but by the grace of God, she stayed.
Six or seven years passed, and the couple had a daughter, Stephanie. Roscoe was still drinking, and, much to Betty’s chagrin, showed no sign of stopping.
Then, one day, he decided to go for a little drive.
Never mind that he’d been drinking before. He had stuff to do and places to go, and he wouldn’t let that slow him down.
Little did he know that his life was about to change drastically.
There was a crash. I’m sure you’ve all heard the stories of drunk drivers getting into or causing major wrecks that kill dozens. Something very similar happened. Roscoe crashed through a fence into a pecan orchard, and ran head-on into a pecan tree. The fender bent forward around the tree, throwing Roscoe into the floor of the car. (He wasn’t wearing a seatbelt since they weren’t a thing back then, and thank goodness, too.) The engine — yes, the ENGINE — came up through the dashboard, through the steering wheel shaft, and through the actual steering wheel into the driver’s seat, landing where Roscoe had been sitting just moments before.
That evening, he swore to never let alcohol touch his lips again. And he kept that vow to his dying day. He told my dad later that there was hardly a morning where he didn’t crave alcohol. In order to stay away, he had to change who he associated with, where he went, sometimes even what he did. The only way he was able to muster the will-power to do that was through God.
Thirty years later, in the year 2002, my dad and his mother, Betty, cleaned out the cabinet where the alcohol had sat all those years. My dad says that some of the bottles were never opened. They opened all those bottles and poured them down to drain. All in all, there were about 30 bottles, the same number as the years it had been since the crash. Roscoe died three years later, not too long before I was born.
By the time my dad finished telling this story, I was fighting back tears. For some people, God whispers ever so slightly in their lives, and they’ll listen. For other people, sometimes God has to shout to get their attention. If that wreck had killed my grandfather, I wouldn’t be here tonight, writing this blog post.
I hope this post convicted you in some way. Maybe it gave you the motivation to give up a bad habit, or it just brought tears to your eyes, or it just made your jaw drop. I pray that it helps you or someone in your life who might need it. Feel free to reblog, share, or save. I don’t care.
Thanks for reading!