I lived a very hard life before I met Jesus. I was not a very good person. I had no friends. I ran with the devil and was a very evil person. Life was "all about me" and nobody else. If you couldn't do anything for me, or you couldn't give me something, then you were nothing to me. But, if I saw a chance to get something from you - look out! I would con you, steal from you, cheat you, hurt you, or do whatever it took to get what I wanted. No matter what, your feelings didn't matter to me at all. Nothing mattered except me.
Heading Toward DisasterThis sounds pretty dismal, doesn't it? But it is true, and as I think back on the way I was, it makes me sick. I was heading toward disaster. I had my spot marked in. I had prime real estate in the hottest place there is.
I was in and out of trouble most of my life. As a juvenile I was arrested for breaking into houses and doing drugs. But it didn't stop there. I did many things throughout my adult life, including things I was never caught for. I sold drugs. I was a thief and a pervert. I never liked myself, no matter what I did or how much money I had. I was always missing something. I searched and searched, but could never find what I was missing. I was miserable.
I Tried EverythingI smoked pot every day for twenty five years. I smoked pot longer than I smoked cigarettes, trying to make myself happy, trying to fill the void that was inside of me. I tried everything from drugs, to crime, to sex, and nothing ever helped. I got so deep into drugs, I was smoking glass - that is "methamphetamine," and I got addicted. I had been smoking this for almost a year. At that time I had my own business, but I smoked so much glass, and was spending so much money on it, I was running my business into the ground.
At one point I was spending over $300 every two or three days. I started spending my bill money on methamphetamine. Somehow, probably because I ran out of money, I got myself to stop. I say "myself" here, but I know it wasn't "by myself." I was very depressed and lost, nothing was going right in my life.
The Lowest PointThis is when I did something very, very bad and ended up in jail. I was thirty nine years old, and at this point, I completely destroyed everything in my life, and I mean everything. I was at the lowest point I had ever been. I even contemplated suicide.
As I sat in my little six by nine cell, away from the drugs, away from the money, away from all my evil desires, I heard something. Someone was telling me, "It's time to read the Bible." At first I didn't listen. I was too caught up in my self pity and selfishness, but I kept hearing this little voice inside telling me over and over, "It's time to read the Bible."
After about two weeks of hearing this, I thought, "Maybe I do need to read the Bible." So, I put in a request for a Bible and then returned to wallowing in my sorrow. By this time I considered myself pond scum - that's what I thought I was. I had given up all hope of ever seeing my family again. I saw no hope of ever getting out of jail. I assumed I would spend the rest of my life there, and I felt I deserved to be there.
One morning while I was eating my breakfast - a Bologna sandwich - I was given a Bible. At first I didn't think much of it, and sat it on my little metal table and I ignored it. It took me a couple of days before I finally picked it up. Then I decided, "Why not? I'll try it. What do I have to lose?"
The Best Decision of my LifeSo there I was, sitting on my little thin mattress on my metal bunk, reading. I didn't know it at that time, but I had just made the best decision I had ever made in my entire life. I was still unsure whether I could even read the Bible, or understand it, but I didn't think I had anything to lose. So I started reading from page one in Genesis - first chapter, first verse. And you know what? I couldn't stop reading. I couldn't put that book down for anything!
I read day and night. The only time I stopped reading was after they turned the lights off and I couldn't see anymore. This book, the Bible, was nothing like I expected. It was completely different than anything I had ever imagined. I was reading stories about things that I may have heard of, but had no idea what they were or what they meant. Now I was reading them for myself. The more I read the more I wanted to know. The farther I got, the farther I wanted to go.
Seeing for the First TimeI got about halfway through this Bible and it was like a light bulb lit up, and my eyes were opened. I could see for the first time. I was blind and now I could see. It was amazing! I was lying there and I realized this is it. This is what I've been missing all my life. This is what I've been running from, but trying to get to all of my life. It was like somebody poured ice cold water over my head and woke me up. I finally found the "missing link."
I wished I could have seen the look on my face. I'm sure it was a look of shock and excitement and fulfillment. Right then, at that very moment, I prayed. I prayed to Jesus. I asked God to forgive me for all my sins, and to come into my heart and to be part of me. Then something very special and exciting happened to me. My life changed. My life took a complete turn - the biggest u-turn I'd ever made. I turned right around and headed towards God, and I didn't look back to see what the devil was doing. I ran, and ran, and ran.
I Was Lost But Now I'm FoundI ran towards God and I cried, and cried, and laughed. I was lying in my cell in jail, with no hope of ever getting out, and I was smiling and laughing, and thinking, "I am the happiest man in this whole wide world." You see, I found Jesus. I found the Lord. I once was lost, but now I'm found.
I am so thankful for everything God has done for me. Let me tell you, He has worked miracles in my life. Because of God, I only spent one year in jail. He let me out - not the judge, not the guard, not Sheriff Joe - but Jesus. Jesus gave me my freedom when I first asked Him into my heart and my life. Then He opened the gates and let me out of jail. He continues day after day, blessing me. He helps me. He holds me. He loves me. He takes care of me.
It's only because of Him that I'm even alive today. It's only because of Jesus that I have a roof over my head, that I have money in my pocket, that I have food in my refrigerator, that I have shoes on my feet. No matter what, He is the only reason I have anything. The Lord has changed my life so much. I have friends now, and I can be a friend. You would not have wanted me to be your friend before I found Jesus, but now I can be a true friend.
When I accepted Jesus the old me passed away, and I became a new creature. I am not the same person I was and I will never be that person again. I'm so thankful for everything that Jesus has done and for everything He has given me.
In June of 1999 I lost my mother to terminal lung cancer. Three months later in September, I was diagnosed with Stage IIIA Lung Cancer. It meant that I had a tumor in my upper left lobe and tumors in the mediastinal glands on the left side. It was inoperable. I wasn't expected to live.
During my second month of therapy I was sitting in the Chemo room with a needle in my hand receiving Chemotherapy. For some reason I decided then and there that it was time to bring Jesus into my life. I asked for forgiveness of my sins and for help through the next four months of treatment. You see, I was taking radiation and Chemo at the same time. I was so tired and scared. I prayed and I kept on praying.
My neighbor who was a Southern Baptist told her prayer circle at church about me, and prayers went out all over the country for me. Even my mother-in-law who has relatives in Mississippi and New York were praying for me, and their churches were too.
When treatment was over that following March, my Oncologist wanted me to wait two months to let things settle down inside of me. Well, I went for a PT Scan in May and the scan showed my chest and lung to be totally free of cancer. Everyone was completely amazed, except for me, my neighbor and my mother-in-law. Since then I have remained a Christian and it has changed my life. By religion I am Catholic, and although I don't go to Mass like I should, God is still with me. He has brought me a long way since those days of treatment. My motto today is to treat others as you would have them treat you.
I know God saved me for a purpose and I truly hope I am doing what He wants. I still go through trials and tribulations, but I pray for peace and comfort. I believe my life is better for being a Christian.
I know it's not popular to be a Christian or to be a witness these days, but I try to do my best.
Well, that is my simple story. I am sure there are many others out there who can testify of similar things.
I say, "Keep on praying." That is when you are closest to God.
Thanks for reading my story. Go with God, friends.
|Laurie||I'll begin with a brief story of who I am. I'm a 51-year-old deaf woman. I am a divorced mother of three adult children and a grandmother of eight children. I have not been a Christian all my life. When I was a child, my family took me to church on Sundays once in a while, but I knew nothing about God or Jesus Christ because of my deafness. There were no sign language interpreting services in the old days.
I was married for 16 years. My ex-husband and I didn't take any illegal drugs, except a joint of marijuana once in a while. We drank wine sometimes on special occasions. My ex-husband was Catholic and my children attended parochial school for a few years. Still, I didn't agree to convert to Catholicism because I disliked that religion. The Father (priest) and the nuns were unkind to me on several occasions. This shocked and hurt me deeply.
Dark DaysBecause of those bad experiences, I didn't believe the Christian religion was good for us. I considered Christians to be hypocrites and fanatics. I was angry about one thing that I hated the most! It was their preaching about "hell". I hated to hear about hell because it caused a lot of mental anguish. I believed God would never forgive me because I had committed many wrongs during my 16 years of marriage. I thought I was too "evil" for breaking God's commandments. No one had ever explained to me about Jesus Christ's mercy and forgiveness. So I was very fearful of God's wrath.
My husband and I got divorced in 1988. It was a bad marriage. These were the darkest days in my life. The divorce was ugly and bitter.
But then a most wonderful thing happened.
I Prayed for the First TimeDuring the days of my deep depression and despair, I woke up one morning and decided to seek God for forgiveness and help. To make the story short—I prayed for the first time and Jesus Christ answered instantly. He healed me completely of all my wounds.
A Wonderful ChangeI had a joyous healing experience that changed me, 180 degrees completely into a different person. I have never been the same. For two whole months I experienced his saving grace. I felt joyous and peaceful. To this day I'll never forget that powerful moment with the Lord, Jesus Christ. He showed me the real meaning of love.
Soon after I bought a Bible and began to read, but I was not able to understand much of it. For a beginner, I had picked the worst place to start reading. It was the book of Revelation. It freaked me out, badly. I was angry and frightened. My English skill was not good at the time, and I had taken the words literally. So I decided I would never read that book again.
I was also angry with the Bible's authoritative "male view" about women and life in the Proverbs. So I didn't really read the Bible until three years ago. I attended church once or twice, but I didn't like it. I felt uncomfortable and I didn't trust the church. So I prayed to the Lord and asked Him to show me the path that would take me closer to Him.
The New Age MovementSoon I met a new friend who introduced me to the New Age Movement. At the time, it felt like God had answered my prayer. I was very excited and grateful. I bought many spiritual books, tarot cards, and attended Native American teaching meetings and ceremonies with the shamans. I studied and read books everyday.
I was also a disciple of a holy guru from India for three years. I heard stories about missing pages in the Bible. These led me to suspect that thousands of years ago the Christian church made up the story of hell to instill fear and put people under church's power, instead of under God's control. I decided it was just a man-made doctrine about hell to control what we believed.
I began to believe that "hell" was our current troubles, our suffering on earth and adversities in life. I didn't believe Satan was real. But I accepted the idea that there were evil, "lost" ghosts walking on earth, and mysterious dark forces.
Still SearchingYet despite all the books, different teachings, the joyous and spiritual moments, meditating many hours and applying what I was learning to my life, I still hadn't found the right place that would bring me closer to God. I was still searching for the truth.
In 1997, one year after my youngest child (who was 18), moved away from home, I started smoking marijuana, or "pot." Eventually I smoked it every day. After three years I knew I was addicted to it, but I was not willing to let it go. I liked it too much. It was so pleasurable that I didn't want to stop. I didn't like the world without the pot. It relaxed me so I wasn't so nervous. I reasoned, "Besides, it is not a dangerous drug." My friends and I called it an "herb."
Giving in to Harder DrugsAt the time I was 45 years old. Most of my friends were in their 30's to 40's. We were living in a small but nice apartment complex one block from the beach in Los Angeles, California. Up until then I hadn't touched dangerous hallucinatory drugs like meth, crack, or heroin. I was very afraid of them. I had seen some of their devastating consequences as a teenager, so I stayed clear of them.
However, after smoking pot for three years, my resolve had weakened. In the fall of 2000, My best girlfriend moved in with me for a temporary time. One of the neighbors started to sell crack. I noticed the increased traffic to his apartment every day, and I was afraid he would bring in trouble from drug users and the law. I knew him personally. He was deaf also. So, I asked him to stop. But he was making big money and he liked it too much, so he refused to stop.
He bought many new things, clothes, a big TV, stereo, and new furniture for his apartment. When I returned home from a long vacation trip, I learned that my best friend had started smoking crack too. I was scared for her. But she told me it was an awesome high trip. Then she offered me some. After a little hesitation, I accepted and smoked the crack.
Looking back now to that moment, I wish I had listened to that little voice in my heart that said "no." But the curiosity had gotten a hold of me. I had no idea of the kind of drug it was. And I believed my friend about how awesome it was.
The Truth About CrackNow, I'd like to make a point about the drug crack. Later on in the years to follow at AA meetings, I often heard the same thing from other ex-users about crack. The saying is, "It grabs you so fast, before you even know it." That is the truth! It happened to my friend, and to me. It is horribly addictive! Once you smoke it, you can't stop until you either crash or run out of the rocks.
It took extreme effort for me to control it by smoking only in the evenings after work and only a few times a week. But while smoking it, I couldn't stop the need to get high until the drug was all gone and it was time to sleep at night. By the fourth week, the craving was so bad I found myself crawling on the floor, looking for the crack left-overs. At that moment, I was acutely aware of my behavior and I was truly horrified at the change in me, and also my best friend. She had become a full-time user, smoking it 24 hours every day.
A Horrible ChangeMy friend would go 2 weeks without sleep, and then she'd crash. But then she'd be back smoking it again the next day. It was terrible to watch as it changed her personality. She became a different person—a not so nice person. I didn't like her. Her wild talk was full of profanities. She called me a "bitch," and before that she had never said one bad word against me in our 18 years of friendship.
As for me, I smoked the crack for one and a half months. Then one night I heard God's voice clearly. He said, "Quit it." I obeyed and quit immediately. He set me free. I didn't have any cravings after that. I was so happy and grateful. But I still didn't stop smoking marijuana or drinking, not yet.
Crack also hurt our neighbors. It killed one of them with a heart attack. Other neighbors became addicted. There were crack users at the dealer's home all the time, both women and men, ages 20 to 50, staying long hours. They almost never stopped smoking crack.
After 6 months of drug dealing, the deaf man was evicted from his apartment. That was the month after I had quit. I felt sorry for him, so I allowed him to stay the night at my home for "just a short time," as long as he didn't sell drugs. However, within 2 weeks I had to evict both him and my best friend. They moved onto the streets and stayed in motels and friends' homes.
A NightmareIt was like a nightmare for me. I had lost my best friend. It broke my heart to kick her out of my home. But both of them had no respect for me, nor did they care about keeping my home clean. They made a horrendous mess in my house. But I've learned this is what drug users are like. They only care about the drugs and getting high.
If you get nothing else out of my story, remember that drugs like crack, heroin and meth are very dangerous, destructive and addictive. They do kill people, destroy their minds, and damage their health. They also hurt and destroy loved ones.
Using crack hurt my adult children. The drug damaged my brain and changed my personality, even though I only used it for about 6 weeks. Nevertheless, it can damage your body's organs without warning. The drug made chemical changes to my brain, causing me to "see" spirit beings and "hear" voices almost all the time. The drug also hurt my nervous system. I am still suffering those problems today.
Abusing any drug is a terrible sin because it opens the door to evil spirits, demons and Satan. I literally "saw" and experienced the evil spirits during the period I used crack. They hung around my apartment and harassed us, making us fearful and paranoid. Their goal was to eventually destroy our souls. They made both mental and physical attacks against me because they knew that I could see them. They appeared usually in the evenings until sunrise.
That was the scariest time of my life, to see how the drug crack was destroying me. It got to be so unbearable that many times I would think about suicide. I was very depressed and mentally exhausted. I wanted to die or sleep for a long time. I was tired of the evil tormenting.
After God rescued me, the demons were gone. I was so grateful to be set free.
It was Jesus Christ who rescued me and who gave me salvation. He set me free from all drug and alcohol addictions. My depression left. The Lord helped me to be strong and to overcome. I started going to church, and loved it. God encouraged me to read the Bible again, and this time I could understand it. Now I believed what it said about hell. But because of his salvation, I didn't have to go there! I was headed toward heaven. Thank God and Praise the Lord! He was the best thing that ever happen to me.