“My heart is stirred by a noble theme, as I sing my ode to the king. My tongue is the pen of a nimble scribe” (Psalm 45:1).
I, Jose George, was born as the oldest son in a Christian family. I spent my childhood with my parents, sisters and brother in small town in Kerala, India. Growing up, I remember how my father used to drink alcohol with his friends on various occasions in and around our house. This gave me the temptation to get a taste of alcohol if I ever got an opportunity to do so.
As a young 19-yr old, I got enrolled into the Indian Army in 1971. I went through my training, and upon completion, I received my first posting. This began my nomadic life in the army, since postings change every three years. During this time, I began drinking alcohol, as it was freely available. It became my companion day and night. Eventually I became an addict to it.
In 1978, I got married and soon I was blessed with two children, the elder being a girl and younger a boy. My married life was miserable due to my wayward life. I used to party every night with my army colleagues, come home early in the morning, get dressed and go to work. I was a bad dream for my wife and children and a perfect man for my colleagues. I used to enjoy the company of my colleagues because I could be in a different world. My wife and children used to leave me and run away from me due to my unruly behavior. Our relatives would then intervene, bring back my family and make us live together. This kept happening many times.
Meanwhile, someone suggested that I attend a retreat at the Potta Retreat Center in Chalakudy, Kerala. After attending the program, I was able to stop my bad habits for some time. However, the temptation was so strong that I succumbed to drinking again. After my retirement from the Indian Army, we settled in Bangalore. My son got married and moved out of the house. As my condition didn’t get better, my wife decided to separate from me in 2007. My daughter left with her, and we stopped any kind of communication.
My daughter began to attend an independent church called Charismatic Assembly in Bangalore. One day an elder brother of the church contacted me and said that the church is praying for the marriage of my daughter. He further asked me to pray for her, and to participate in the ceremonies if it were to happen. My daughter’s wedding was held in March 2009. As a father, I could do nothing except watch the entire ceremony as a spectator and that really pained me greatly. On the same night I heard a voice telling me, “I am the living God and I do everything according to my time.” Though I was a Christian from birth, I never had any faith that such a God exists; i.e., one who can make the impossible thing possible.
The following month, on Good Friday, I went to a church near my house to attend ‘The Way of the Cross’. While the service was in progress, suddenly, I started weeping profusely and felt that I may collapse. Suddenly, I heard a commanding voice telling me, “You are a great sinner; repent and turn to me.” As soon as I came out of the church, I received a call from an elder in my wife’s church, who requested me to reconcile with my wife, saying that this is the wish of God regarding my family life.
Hence, after a week, I decided to move in with my wife and we started living together again. However, the differences prevailed. Every Sunday I would drop my wife at her church, but I never attended. This adjustment continued for a period. Then, one Sunday while dropping her, I heard a song from the church about the grace of God bestowed upon a wretched man. That song immediately caught my attention and it opened my eyes. I could see my whole life and all the sins I had committed in front of me, as if on a screen. Driven by some unseen force, I was prompted to step into the church. I felt that I was the only misfit among all, and it deeply wounded my heart.
Once the worship got over, a few elders of the church came and spoke to me with a lot of affection and love, even though they were aware of my character. I had never experienced this sort of love and affection anywhere prior to this. They told me that Jesus loves me and requested me to attend every Sunday and listen to the Word of God that was being preached. I agreed, and thereafter I started attending church regularly. Gradually, I started experiencing changes in my life and I could see my attitude towards things changing. Mainly, a wonderful peace prevailed in me.
One day Jesus spoke to me and said that He loves me. On the same day, I got the courage to leave behind my drinking habit of 28 years. The elders of the church had given me a Bible and they requested me to read and meditate the Word of God. I took their advice seriously and slowly started experiencing God’s love, mercy and forgiveness through scripture. “My heart is broken within me, all my bones tremble; I am like a drunk, like one overcome by wine, Because of the LORD, because of his holy words” (Jeremiah 23:9). I was overjoyed as it says in Jeremiah 15:16: “When I found your words, I devoured them; your words were my joy, the happiness of my heart, Because I bear your name, LORD, God of hosts.” Jesus said in Matthew 4:4 that man does not live by bread alone but by every word that proceeds from the mouth of God. This really has created in me an insatiable appetite for God and His Word.
The infilling of the Holy Spirit and abiding of the Word of God really transformed my life. Through this, I could understand and rejoice in the revelation of God who became like me to make me like Him, as explained in Romans 8:29: “For those he foreknew he also predestined to be conformed to the image of his Son, so that he might be the firstborn among many brothers.” Now I am living a very happy and peaceful life with my wife and we know one day we will be with Jesus. Because Jesus lives, I can face tomorrow, and my life is worth living. Praise to Jesus! Hallelujah!