This is the second part of what led me to become a Christian. You can read the first part here .
So now I knew I was saved, but still did not stop doing drugs because I did not know any better. “My people are destroyed for lack of knowledge.” In fact, the very next night after I asked Jesus into my heart, while getting high with my friends, I said, “Guess what I did last night? I asked Jesus into my heart.”
For the next few months, I was ridiculed for turning to God. Not too long before, I was the most adamant against God, Jesus, and the church. (I remember one day getting high at a party when a girl mentioned that she went to church that morning, and I verbally abused and lectured her so bad that others at the party were trying to get me to calm down.) Now I was for God and Jesus, but I still didn’t see the need to go to church. I was, however, reading the bible, along with a book or two that I picked up at the store (including Oswald Chambers My Utmost for His Highest (if you have not read this devotional book, I highly recommend it)), and making changes in my life to honor God as I saw in my infantile understanding of becoming a Christian.
At my work, I was promoted and was now responsible for training people. There was one person who was a sold-out Christian who came through, and during one of our conversations, he asked me if I wanted to go to church. I said sure and didn’t think about it. And in fact forgot about it.
So one Sunday evening, I had just finished getting high (I literally was high all the time), there was a knock on the door. So I scrambled to hide the paraphernalia and then answered the door, and it was my co-worker. He asked if I was ready, to which I replied, “For what?” “For Church” “Is that today?” So he took me to Guts Church while I was higher than a kite.
I had already had a brief run-in with Guts church but did not realize it at that time. Several years before, on Halloween night (the 1st Nightmare), we were killing time until midnight so that we could break into a graveyard and party in the graveyard, and someone suggested going to a haunted house style event. I was majorly down with that. And they mentioned the Nightmare, and I was seriously down with that. But then they warned me that it was put on by a church, and I went off on everyone in the car. Eventually, they calmed me down, and I agreed to check it out, but when we pulled up, the line was so long, we just turned around and drove off.
I don’t remember a thing that Pastor Bill was preaching that night, but what I do remember was that I was moved. At the end, Pastor Bill asked everyone to bow their head and close their eyes and did the altar call. I bowed my head but didn’t close my eyes. And slowly raised my hand but realized that Pastor Bill’s back was turned to me, so I quickly brought it back down. At this point, the person sitting behind me (whoever he was) started tapping me on the shoulder, saying, “It’s all right. Don’t be afraid. You can do this.” I was infuriated and it took everything within me not to turn around and start beating this guy to a pulp. (This was a major break through, as I have gotten thrown out of places before. (In fact, I used to go to places to see how far I could push them before they would throw me out.))
So I went home and swore off going to church.
A few months later, it was Easter. And I knew that one of the things you do when you believe is to go to church on Easter. It’s the biggest day of the year for a believer. So I called my sister and went to a country church for Easter. I was still doing drugs but held off until immediately after church. And I liked it and wanted to go back. We went back the next week.
On Monday, a week after Easter, one of my friend’s girlfriends called and asked if I wanted to go to church on Wednesday, for she knew I was leaning this way. I said sure. So she picked me up and brought me to Guts Church (thought it was just simply called Guts back then).
You have to understand that I was so high all the time that I didn’t remember the two previous run-ins that I had had with Guts. (There was a 4-year period that there wasn’t a day that I wasn’t chemically altered in one way or another.) But I made sure I was clean and sober when I went with her.
It was a guest speaker (I want to say it was Bobby Petruccilli), and when he did the altar call, he asked if anyone uses drugs to come up there, and I went without any hesitation. He laid his hands on me and was delivered from drugs at that moment. I went home and threw away hundreds of dollars of paraphernalia and have been clean and sober since. I also have been going to Guts ever since.
Now I was drug-free and committed to going to church. For 3 weeks, I answered the altar call every service because I was getting extremely convicted each service. But I was still having problems dealing with depression and suicidal thoughts. I first tried to kill myself when I was 5 and put myself in the hospital when I was 15 from an attempted OD. By the time I graduated high school, I was classified as a level 5 neurotic by the state of Oklahoma. And all of this was before I started doing drugs. After I started doing drugs, I had spiraled further to where thoughts of suicide were daily. I even spent 3 months wishing that I had never been born, regretting that I ever existed.
At the end of each service, they would take those who had answered the altar call into a back room to minister to them. On that 3rd week, I hung around until I was the last one in there, and went up to Scott Starnes, the associate pastor and explained to him my problems with depression and suicidal thoughts. He laid his hands on me and I was immediately filled with a peace and joy that I had never known or experienced before. It was so strong and overwhelming, all in a good way. I actually felt drunk, which I now know that it was an infilling of the Holy Spirit.
The very next morning, I awoke to a very strong depression and the thought of suicide, one of the strongest I had ever felt before. I was standing in the bathroom, with a box knife in my hand, seriously considering slitting my wrist, or at least carving on myself (as I had been known to do for the last several years), when these words rose up in me and I spoke them out loud: “I can’t be about these things anymore. My life is not my own now. I belong to Jesus.” Understand that there is natural depression, like when my mom passed away, that we go through in life, but the depression that I battled for most of my life was unnatural, an internal darkness like one that most cannot fathom. I stand here today to tell you that the depression and suicidal urges immediately left me when those words were spoken and I have never felt them since. I spent the first 25 years of my life wanting nothing but to die, and since that morning my desire is to live for Christ. The life I now live is exceedingly abundantly above all that I can ask or think. Out of all the things that God has done for me, this is still the one that I am most thankful for, to have inner peace and joy that I never thought was possible. Do I still have bad days? Yes. But even at my worst, nothing affects me like it used to.
The final part continues here.