On the outside, author and minister Max Lucado had it all together. He was part of a thriving church, had top-selling books in the hands of people all over the country, and was designated the "Best Preacher in America." But Lucado recently opened up about how he secretly drank alcohol to deal with the stress and pressure of ministry.
In his newly released book, God Never Gives Up on You, the prolific author shares that at the age of 50, he started to drink beer to handle the demands of "his world gone crazy."
"The staff needed me. The pulpit required me. The publisher was counting on me. The entire world was looking to me. So, I did what came naturally. I began to drink," reads an excerpt from his book. "Not publicly. I was the guy you see at the convenience store who buys the big can of beer, hides it in a sack, and presses it against his thigh so no one will see as he hurries out the door. My store of choice was on the other side of the city lest I be seen. I'd sit in the car, pull the can out of the sack, and guzzle the liquid until it took the edge off the sharp demands of the day."
The teaching minister of Oak Hills Church in San Antonio, Texas believed he had everything under control, from his staff issues and deadlines to his drinking.
But no matter how much he justified it in his mind, God spoke to his heart. Lucado likens it to the wrestling that happened between Jacob and God in the book of Genesis.
"The wrestling match lasted for the better part of an hour on a spring afternoon," said Lucado. "God didn't touch my hip, but he spoke to my heart. Really, Max? If you have everything together, if you have a lock on this issue, then why are you hiding in a parking lot, sipping a beer that you've concealed in a brown paper bag?"
Lucado says, just like Jacob in the Bible, God showed grace to him despite the deception and the mistakes he made.
"God extended [grace] to me. Abundantly," said the pastor. "I confessed my hypocrisy to our elders, and they did what good pastors do. They covered me with prayer and designed a plan to help me cope with demands. I admitted my struggle to the congregation and in doing so activated a dozen or so conversations with members who battled the same temptation."
Lucado admits so much has changed since that encounter with God.
"God met me there that day," he concluded. "He gave me a new name as well. Not 'Israel.' That one was already taken. But 'forgiven.' And I'm happy to wear it."
During that season of his life, Lucado said he could relate to Jacob. In his new book, Jacob is the inspiration to help readers to understand God's grace, mercy, and love.
"I think the hero of the Jacob story is not Jacob, but the hero is God," he recently told CBN. "And the story of Jacob is a story for all of us who tend to stumble, struggle, who pass through difficult or challenging times. And we find ourselves wondering if God could use someone like us. Can God take someone with a life like mine that is so full of stumbles and fumbles and put it to good use? I like to think that Jacob is the poster child for folks like us and God used Jacob in spite of Jacob."
Max's team surveyed people to try and understand how they saw themselves spiritually. Of 9,877 respondents:
* 50% feel as though they've stumbled one too many times for God to use them;
* 45% feel closer to breakdown than breakthrough;
* 92% feel as though they're part of the "Tilted Halo Society," as opposed to the "Super Saint Association" (titles used in Max's book);
* 48% believe this statement: "God helps those who help themselves."
But Lucado's book outlines how God's character reveals something entirely different.
He calls it, "A testimony to divine, unexpected, unrequested, undeserved kindness. God's grace isn't only as good as you are. God's grace is as good as He is. God's grace isn't a lucky charm crucifix on a necklace. God's grace is a tiger in your heart. His grace never quits. That's the kind of God He is—He's the 'God of Jacob.' Our God is the God of those who struggle and scrape, sometimes barely making it, hanging on for dear life."
He told CBN, "What matters is not so much our covenant with God, but God's covenant with us...Jacob is a perfect picture of how God stays faithful even during times in which we could use more faith ourselves.
Max Lucado's latest book, God Never Gives Up on You, is available at maxlucado.com.