Alcohol Was Destroying Me,
But Christ Set Me Free
My name is Karen Fowler, and this is my story. It was just another day, or so I thought. Little did I know my entire life as I knew it was about to change forever. Let me explain…
It was that time of year again when the Celtic Fest came to Bethlehem. I loved it – it was a time of enjoying music, food, the Highland games and most of all…beer. I could drink all I wanted and had a “good” reason for it. My daughter, Holly, and her husband, Matt, had come up for the weekend so we could go to Celtic Fest together. Matt and I had left just before noon on Saturday to go down to the Festival, and I began drinking as soon as we got there. We returned home hours later to get everyone else to go back down to Celtic Fest. I never missed a beat – I just kept on drinking. Later that night, I was so drunk that I did something to royally embarrass myself. Everyone I was with began to laugh at me. They thought it was funny, but I was devastated.
“It was at that moment I knew something had to change; I couldn’t continue to live this way.”
I HATED what I had become—a drunk. The Bible tells us in Proverbs chapter 23, verses 29-30, “Who hath woe? Who hath sorrow? Who hath contentions? Who hath babbling? Who hath wounds without cause? Who hath redness of eyes? They that tarry long at the wine.”
When I was young, I had very little religious background or interest. My first memory of being in church was when I was dropped off one holiday at the Catholic Church. After the mass I went into a booth like everyone else was doing and pulled the curtain closed. When I heard someone start talking to me, I got scared and ran! My drinking began at the age of 14 or 15. It seemed only natural—after all, everyone I knew drank—my parents, grandparents, aunts, uncles, and friends. It began slowly at first, but eventually became a vital part of my life.
My father died when I was 16 years old. Not long afterwards I was pregnant and married the father of my baby. My husband’s parents, who are professing Christians, were the first contact I ever had with anyone religious. They went to church faithfully three times a week. We would go to church with them occasionally on the “religious” holidays—Christmas and Easter—and once in a while on a Sunday morning.
“After I married, alcohol and drugs were still a big part of my life.”
So were violence, anger, and infidelity. Shortly after we were married, Ed told me he wanted to begin dating other women. I was devastated. He began seeing other women and I turned to another man, looking for the love and acceptance I desired from my husband. Somehow we managed to stay together for 16 years and the birth of another daughter before we parted ways. During our separation I relied more heavily on alcohol, trying to drown out the pain.
One Sunday I went by myself to a Baptist church that was close to home. The message that was preached compelled me to walk down to the altar and pray. No one counseled me or talked to me, but I left there thinking I was “saved.” (Note:salvation, saved, and born again are Biblical terms referring to the forgiveness of sins by God and the rescue of a person from the power and penalty of that sin. This is God’s requirement for everlasting life.) Years later another church baptized me based on that “profession.” But there was no change in my life. I was still heavily involved in alcohol and drugs and my life was a mess.
After my husband and I split up in 1992, I went to Ocean City, Maryland, with my sister and met a really nice man, Scott, at a bar. We began dating and before long I moved from Maryland to Pennsylvania to be with him. Four years later we married and put together this “Brady Bunch family” with his two sons and my two girls. But let me tell you, it was not the romantic, fun-filled life of the TV sitcom. I found that trying to mesh two different households together was nearly impossible. There was bickering and fighting between both the children and Scott and me. Once again I turned to alcohol to try to cope with my problems. Often, after a night of drinking, I would become confrontational and often volatile towards Scott, only to apologize the next day for my bad behavior.
This went on for several more years and each time I would tell myself I was going to quit drinking. After a while I began to hide how much I was drinking from Scott. Every day I would drink 3 or 4 beers after work and even more on the weekends. I realized I had a problem but couldn’t bring myself to tell my husband for fear of losing him.
“I felt helpless, lonely, and afraid.”
After my humiliating experience at Celtic Fest, I began to wonder if the change I needed was to go back to church. So I began to visit some of the various Baptist Churches in the area only to find out that not all Baptist Churches are the same. I even enrolled in a Bible study at one of the churches I was attending. But something was missing, I didn’t know what it was, but I knew I had to keep searching. And then one day after church one of the ladies mentioned to me something about Lehigh Valley Baptist Church and I thought “Hmmm, I don’t remember seeing that one in the phone book.” I went home that day and searched the internet for Lehigh Valley Baptist Church. I listened to one of the audio sermons, and thought to myself, “This is what I’ve been looking for—someone who will teach me what the word of God has to say!”
So I began to visit the church and soon a lady approached me and asked if I would be interested in doing a Bible study with her. I readily accepted, thinking it would be a good way to make friends. As the study progressed, I began to question my previous profession of “salvation” and asked Robin, “If I was saved at that time, why hasn’t anything changed in my life?” Second Corinthians chapter 5, verse 17 says, “Therefore if any man be in Christ, he is a new creature: old things are passed away; behold, all things are become new.” Robin told me, “Go home and pray about it. The Lord will show you.”
“That entire week, I prayed that God would show me whether or not I was truly saved.”
By Sunday I was really burdened about this and as I was in the shower getting ready for church, in tears I cried out to God saying, “Lord, I need to know today whether or not I am saved.” That morning the Pastor preached from the book of Hebrews. He kept repeating over and over, “Today is the day of salvation.” I kept thinking, “Robin must have told Pastor Hammett what we had been talking about. How else could he have known?”
As the pastor preached, it was as if no one else was in the church except me. It seemed as if the whole message was pointed at me. God began to show me my sin, and to show me that I was not saved. God had answered my prayers! Jeremiah chapter 29, verse 13 says, “And ye shall seek me, and find me, when ye shall search for me with all your heart.”
When the invitation was given at the end of the service, I wanted to jump over the pews to get to the altar. Robin met me there and said, “I knew today would be the day!” That morning, December 8th, 2002, I surrendered my life to the Lord Jesus Christ. I repented of all my sin and put my faith in Jesus and what He had done for me, taking my place on the cross. It was indeed “the day of salvation” for me and the beginning of a new life.
Everything began to change, from the inside out. It wasn’t a reformation; it was a life-transformation. My drinking—the thing I had struggled with for so many years—stopped. I no longer had a desire for it. In fact, I haven’t touched a drop since that day. Without me even trying, I noticed my foul language changed. I have a love for the Lord and desire to share Christ with everyone I know. I now have peace and assurance of my salvation. Romans chapter 5, verse 1 says, “Therefore being justified by faith, we have peace with God through our Lord Jesus Christ.”
God often brings us to a very low, helpless point in our life so that we will look up to Him. How about you? Could today be “the day of salvation” for you?