Delivered from the Destroyer's Hands
The night was late and I was full of drug-induced hallucinations. I could hear the Destroyer’s whisper: You are just like your friend—tripped out on extreme amounts of mixed drugs. You’ll never be able to regain your “right” mind. I panicked. I tried everything to come down from my high—forced myself to throw up, binged on food, tried to sleep. It was useless; I was stuck.
The thought of ending up like my friend—a vegetable for the rest of my life—was unbearable for me. The only feasible way to end this problem was to end my life. I got up and walked toward the kitchen with the intent of getting the kitchen knife to stab myself through the heart. With a fuzzy mind and in the dark, I started to take my next step to the kitchen. Then, all of the sudden, a sensation like I had never felt came over my whole body. I was completely, in an instant, in my right mind, with an extreme peace that I had never felt! “Oh, my God, You’re real, You’re real!” is all I could say, over and over again!
According to American standards, I grew up poor. My father owned his own business, but in the real estate crash of the 80s, he was forced to lay off all of his employees and go back to work for an hourly wage. My mother, always a strong person, picked up the necessary burden and began to take the role of primary bread winner. This meant that we as a family needed to live in the apartments that she managed. These apartments were sometimes government subsidized or directly next to the government subsidized properties. Historically, properties like these were high in crime and in poverty levels.
In our home, my brother and I were very free in the choices we were allowed to make for ourselves. Because both of my parents wanted nothing to do with the empty religions of their youth—my mother grew up in a strict Catholic home and my father was held under the fierce deceptions of the Jehovah’s Witness faith—they decided that they would let us decide for ourselves what we wanted for our religion. As it turns out, being able to choose was one of the greatest decisions that my parents made. However, it was not I who chose, but Another who chose me.
Like Our Father
Even though the only thing my father could say that he wanted for his children’s lives was that they would have a better opportunity and upbringing than himself, my brother and I headed down the same road he traveled. My dad had lived a life of drug addiction and been involved in criminal mischief of all kinds, even up to the time when we were growing into men. Without consciously choosing to, we children did what we saw modeled around us. My brother and I began to be involved in violence, drugs, and all sorts of mischievous and malicious activities.
As I made bad choices, my previous flawless grades began to decline, my performance in sports (my largest identity) fleeted away, and I found myself partying every weekend until the sun rose the next day. My parents knew that everything was going terribly wrong, but their own lives were extremely volatile due to my dad’s drug use and the violence it induced. My mother and father would from time to time attempt to discipline me and my brother, but we were conniving and manipulative, doing everything needed to continue in our rebellion.
The New and the Old
When this activity reached its peak, my parents decided to make a drastic move and relocate far north to a small suburban town. They hoped to get out of the plagues of urban living. This decision turned out to be a good one, but for a reason they would never have predicted.
Upon moving out of the urban apartment communities and into the suburban communities, we were immediately met by a group of churchgoers who invited us to a church camp. Both my brother and I welcomed the opportunity to make new friends and found ourselves in the surroundings of something very foreign to us. There was happiness and love and warmth and true concern for others around you. We desperately needed this and welcomed it during the summer preceding our first school year at the new school. Meanwhile our friends back in the urban community where we moved from went from bad to worse. They would all end up with long-term prison sentences.
Unfortunately, when I entered my first school year at our new location, I did what I had always known to do—find trouble. Since we were in a more affluent community, the trouble looked a little different. Gangs weren’t the main influencer, although they were there. The main influencers here were drugs and a seemingly rebellious popularity contest. I knew how to win at this challenge: be the most radical of all. I quickly gained a reputation for being one of the most rebellious and carefree individuals in the school. I couldn’t tell you why, but I was filled with anger and lusted for anything that was destructive. I began to systematically destroy my life.
My self-destruction and rebellion reached its pinnacle the summer between my sophomore and junior year. I had been high on drugs all summer long. The night I determined to end my life I was at a friend’s house. As I walked toward the kitchen with my heart filled with destructive thoughts, a picture flashed in my mind. It was a random and oddly placed thought of the churchgoers who always invited me to church and almost every week told me they were praying for me. Somehow, in my tortured mind, in that moment, I knew it was God visiting me. As a challenge, I cried out, “Oh, God, if You’re real, come and save me now!”
And He did! With the flash of a picture and a cry for help, God answered the prayers others were praying for my lost soul. I fell on the floor and said over and over again until the sun came up three hours later, “I’m sorry, I’m sorry, I’m sorry...I’ll go to church every Sunday!” I didn’t know what else to say, so I said it over and over again, literally washing away the guilt of my years of rebellion and hatred.
That morning, when I went out to my car, I discovered that all of my music CDs had been stolen. I took that as a sign that I had an opportunity for a new start. The music I had listened to had played a big part in fueling my anger and lust.
A Changed Legacy
Since that day, as the Scriptures say, the one who is forgiven much loves much (Luke 7:47). Now I devote my whole life to God. The relationship with my mother and my father continues to progress. My brother followed me in receiving the love and leadership of God. We both went on to graduate from college and live lives that have totally eclipsed the dawn of darkness that seemed to be repeating in our family’s history. History sometimes does repeat itself, but in our situation, the Author chose to write a new story about our family.
The Destroyer of life and love tried very hard to keep us from having a deep love and devotion to the Good Father and Creator in heaven. Now, through much labor, but with joy and anticipation, I am able to do my part by God’s generous Spirit to make sure that we have a family line in history that loves and enjoys His perfect leadership.
God led our family to that suburban town where a group of faithful young Christians were praying and loving others. Their love and prayers for me are what caused God by His mercy to reach down and rescue a life that was about to be separated from Him eternally.
So, my friends, love many, pray for others, and join in on the rejoicing in heaven as one sinner by one sinner is pulled out of the Destroyer’s hands and into the Kingdom of His love!