“You’ve heard of Bibulous, the God of Wine? Ouch.”
“Big fat man, wears vine leaves round his head, always pictured with a glass in his hand…Ow. Well, you know why he’s so cheerful? Him and his big face? It’s because he knows he’s going to feel good in the morning! It’s because it’s me that—”
“—gets the hangovers?” said Susan.
“I don’t even drink! Ow! But who is it who ends up head down in the privy every morning? Arrgh.” He stopped and clutched at his head. “Should your skull feel like it’s lined with dog hair?”
“I don’t think so.”
“Ah.” Bilious swayed. “You know when people say ‘I had fifteen lagers last night and when I woke up my head was clear as a bell?”
“…That’s because I was the one who woke up groaning in a pile of recycled chili.”
That’s a scene from Terry Pratchett’s Hogfather. This month, I’m mourning the loss of a man I never met, who had a writing style I’d give my primary typing fingers to mimic. I’m mad that there are things happening in Discworld, and now there’s nobody to tell me about them. Terry Pratchett drew the audacity of humanity in light-hearted, action-packed tales of whatsits and dragons. His werewolves and trolls pointed fingers at real social issues while making me snort in the silence of the doctor’s office. I miss him already, so I thought I’d let him lead us into today’s Proverb.
Proverbs 23: 29 Who has woe? Who has sorrow? Who has strife? Who has complaints? Who has needless bruises? Who has bloodshot eyes? 30 Those who linger over wine, who go to sample bowls of mixed wine. 31 Do not gaze at wine when it is red, when it sparkles in the cup, when it goes down smoothly! 32 In the end it bites like a snake and poisons like a viper. 33 Your eyes will see strange sights, and your mind will imagine confusing things. 34 You will be like one sleeping on the high seas, lying on top of the rigging. 35 “They hit me,” you will say, “but I’m not hurt! They beat me, but I don’t feel it! When will I wake up so I can find another drink?”
Some of my most fun memories have been with people who were drinking, and I’m not always limited to soda. You’re not supposed to say things like that on a blog like this, I’m pretty sure, but I’m not going to lie. Here’s the thing: Solomon saw the same stuff back then that we see now in our own circles. We don’t have the “Oh god” of hangovers to take our consequences, and they’re worse than the the red eyes and throbbing head. There’s a numbing, a progressive desensitizing that really is viper-like, when we require a chemical to enable our fun. In the early years, it’s just annoying to the sober people. They wish you’d chill out and have a good time that didn’t require a designated driver. But after awhile, you forget how to be yourself without an ice-cold sippa somethin’. The nights get later and you remember less of them but work harder to keep them from ending. Your friends with dreams move on, but hey–every stranger is a buddy when you have beer.
Have you reached the point yet, where you recognize that you’re trying to relive fun times that are way back there, where the line used to be? Years of pushing the line further and further have left you stumbling, memoryless and swamped in frustration and regret? Stop. Don’t be the speaker in verse 35, who no longer cares how much pain it brings or how much strife, as long as another drink is on the way. Find a way to feel your life again, even if it hurts where it is right now, and get someone to lean on as you allow God to rebuild the man or woman He so carefully created. Our Creator made underwater volcanos—He can remake a broken human, and there’s nothing He’d like better than to show You the life He has for you.
Lord, there are so many people I want to reach who may never read this. Right now, there are people reading who need You and need to share You. Give us the words to say to others, and help us to hold back when we want to be pushy instead of letting You do the work. Where there is brokenness, addiction, and hopelessness–open the faucet of Your cleansing, healing power. And keep us moving forward with the knowledge that You’ll never quit on us.