“The first time I tried beer, I hated the taste. The last time I tried beer, I hated the taste too—but for a different reason.
This is a story about a man who loves God—always has from the time he was seven. But at 45 he said hello to a substance that made him feel taller, funnier, more intelligent than he was, that made him fit in, or so I thought: alcohol.
So much fun at first. And it lasted for a few years, 4 or 5 maybe. Then I discovered another reason, an even better reason for the stuff: to simply fade away each day a new, to black out swirling thoughts, the stings, the barbs, the worries. To numb myself so I couldn’t feel anything, good or bad. That was all important. To eventually pass out so I could sleep. I called it sleep anyway. That was one way to deal with life’s issues.
And like anyone in the know (I certainly wasn’t) will tell you, drinking only made things worse. But that was too simple of a maxim for me. That initial numbing was worth whatever residual sickness or pain that followed, for a while anyway.
Eventually a sickness fell on me that I can only describe as rot. I was convinced that I was rotting from the inside out—vital organs and everything that touched a vital organ. And so too was that part of my brain that could talk me out of the next drink.
I was thirsty, so thirsty at first that I would plot and scheme. Then lie and hide and manipulate anyone around me for that next drink. Many times on those days when all was lined up, drinks aplenty. I would have to crawl to it, all alone and sick. Of course I knew something was terribly wrong.
I was so thirsty.
This is a story of how I quenched that thirst.”
David Pierce – 2014
My Uncle David was such a gifted story teller. Which is ironic because he was so soft spoken. That was probably part of his genius. You had to really want to hear the story before he even began. Everyone else in my family will tell you a story if you want to hear it or not. But not Uncle David. You had to really want to hear it. And it was worth it every time. One of his last stories was the story of being thirsty. It’s supposed to be the story of how he quenched that thirst. But Uncle David passed away before he ever finished. In fact, all he had of it was that intro. He also passed away before he knew exactly how it ended. The last few years of his life he struggled with that thirst up until the point he died.
I’m pretty angry that Uncle David died. I really wanted to hear how the story ended. I NEED to hear how the story ends. You see, I was born into a black and white world. And I never left. I loved Batman growing up. Batman just makes sense. He is a good guy fighting bad guys. I need that on both sides. I need to look at someone that is perfect and good and has it all together. And if you’re not that, then I need you to be a terrible human being, scum of the earth, bad guy. If you’re not either one of those things, I don’t know what to do with you. Like it or not, I’ll force you into one of those two categories. And if I happen to hold you in the category of perfect, righteous, good guy who has it all together, then don’t screw up because it’s a long fall from the top! I only understand good guys and bad guys. David was in the middle of becoming the good guy who had it all together and was perfect. But his story ended before he could fully make it there. He had made some mistakes and was still struggling when his story ended. Yet, I could see Jesus so clearly in him. He shattered my black and white world. Here was someone that was struggling and didn’t have it all together yet I could clearly see God in him and so much good.
I wish so badly that I was talented enough and wise enough to finish David’s story about being thirsty. I wish I could tell you exactly how his thirst was quenched. Better yet, I wish HE could tell you. Because it’d be such a great story. I wish it’d be a story of good guys defeating bad things in this world. But David was a master. I learned through his stories that there are no such things as good guys and bad guys. There are only those who have Christ alive within them and those that desperately need Christ in them. And sometimes those with Christ in them mess up and they don’t have it all together and they make mistakes. But you can still always see Christ working in their lives and it makes for a beautiful story.
The doctor came into the hospital room and removed all of the machines Uncle David was attached to and told us that he will pass within a few hours. My aunt began to play a song on repeat that says
I know who goes before me
I know who stands behind
The God of angel armies
Is always by my side
A few weeks later we played that song at church. Right after it we sang a song which goes
Oh death where is your sting
Our resurrected King
Has overcome, has overcome
That was it. That was the ending. “Our resurrected King, has overcome”. I began to cry thinking of Uncle David. He got his perfect ending to his story. His story began with him meeting Jesus at the age of seven. And it ended with him meeting Jesus. Sometimes stories end too early or seem to just stop in the middle. Sometimes the bad guy looks like the good guy or the good guy acts like a bad guy for a moment. But in the end there really are no good guys and bad guys. It’s just those with Christ and those that need Christ. Uncle David was one of those who was blessed enough to be filled with Christ. His story began and ended with Jesus. And his thirst was quenched.