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“I’m tellin’ you, Bob: it was a miracle.”
I nodded and sipped my coffee. “Yeah, okay. Sure.”
“No, not ‘okay, sure.’ This was a miracle, man! Like a legit, real God thing.”
“Yeah. I’m sure it was. I’m happy for you, Luther.”
“Oh, brother.” He jumped up and paced away from me. He startled a few tables and almost tripped a waitress. I couldn’t tell if he noticed.
“Bob, Bob, just listen,” he said, turning and darting back. I drank some coffee to hide from the stares. “You’ve always told me God can do anything, right? That’s why we pray, and all that, right?”
It took me a second, but I nodded.
“Okay, well, so why can’t God do this?” He dashed back to the table, leaned his hands on it, and skewered me with his eyes. “Why can’t God to this?”
“Look, Luther, I’m not saying—”
“No! You don’t get to explain this away. It happened, Bob. It was God.”
I could feel the stares on us from all around the diner. There as hardly another sound in the place. “Look, I believe you that something happened, all right? But—”
“Give me some credit, man!” Luther slapped the table. “I been fighting booze for decades. It never happened, not once, no matter what I tried. But this— this worked. And it was just prayer!”
“And your need to drink just, what, disappeared?”
He nodded. “Gone. Done. Over. Outta here.”
I paused. Luther kept staring, intent as ever. No, not intent. Radiant.
“Well. Then you’d better sit down and tell me about it.”
He grinned and hopped into the seat. “Oh man, it was amazing. So I was in Marv’s, right? I had a beer, maybe my third or fourth. And this was the thing: I didn’t want it.”
“So you were drunk.”
“Nah, man. Not after three. And that’s not what I mean. It was like, I wanted it, just like I always want a beer, but at the same time I just didn’t even want to touch it. Like I wanted to throw it away.”
“So why didn’t you?”
“Oh man,” his smile exploded, “we’re getting there. See, I remembered what you told me, about prayer. Prayer is just talking to God, right? So why couldn’t I do it right there, in Marv’s?”
“Why not?”
“Right?! So I just told God. I said, ‘God, I hate this. I don’t want beer. But I can’t stop.’ And then — I’m dead serious here, Bob — God answered.”
“Well… what did He say?”
“It was a question. He said, ‘What would happen if you didn’t drink?’ And I had to stop and think. Like for the first time, I really just stopped and thought about what would happen if I didn’t drink. And this was it: I’d have to face my pain. It would just bubble up. And without beer I couldn’t escape it.”
“Ok, that’s… wow. That’s blunt,” I said. “So what did you do?”
“I told God! I said, ‘God, I don’t want that pain. That’s what would happen if I didn’t drink. I’d feel it all.’ And then God spoke again. I swear this is real, Bob, I swear!”
I nodded. “I believe you.”
“It was a question again. ‘So why do you drink?’ Just that, just that simple. And, you know, I thought I’d already answered that. But then I realized I hadn’t. Not that direct. So I just said, ‘You know, God, I drink to deal with my pain. It’s the only way I know to deal with it.’”
I frowned. “Well, yeah. I thought that’s why everyone drank.”
Luther shook his head. “Nah, nah. It’s not about what everyone does, brother. It was why I drink. And I never said that before. Never just out-right said it.”
“Okay, okay. I surrender.”
“Yeah, man. So anyway, that’s what I said. And when I said it, it felt like the most true thing I’d ever said. Like, I knew it wasn’t true, you know? But it felt true.”
“I think I know what you mean, yeah.”
“And then God spoke again. And it was a question again. ‘Do you want to know what I want you to know?’ And Bob, I had to think. I really had to think. Because I did, but I didn’t, because I thought I knew what He’d say, and I didn’t want to hear that.”
“But you said yes.”
“Yeah, man. I thought He should get the chance to speak for Himself, you know? So I said, “Yeah, God. Yeah I do.’ And then—”
“God spoke.”
“Oh yeah. Oh man yeah.” Luther leaned back and looked up at the ceiling and smiled. “Yeah man, God spoke. And you want to know what He said?”
“Of course!”
“He said, ‘I’m here with you, Luther. I will deal with your pain, if you will let Me. That’s why I came.’”
Luther glowed as he spoke, but I frowned. “Is that… are you sure that’s true? I mean, we all have pain, sure, but—”
“You seriously trying to take this away from me, Bob?”
“No, I just— look, you want to make sure it’s true, that’s all.”
“And what part ain’t true? He’s here with me, right? Always, right? And God deals with pain, right? Or what’s all that stuff about healing and peace? But anyway I know it was God.”
“You already know, man.”
It took me a second. “You don’t want to drink anymore.”
“Haven’t touched it in weeks. And I’ve never gone this long without booze, man. But you know the best part?”
“I don’t even want to drink. It’s always been this huge struggle before, but now, man, I mean God spoke! And it changed me. It changed something in me. It was a miracle, man. A true, full-out miracle.”
I sat back. I hadn’t even realized I had been leaning in. “Yeah. Yeah I think you’re right.”
Luther leaned forward. He grinned.
“So Bob,” he said. “You wanna pray?”

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