My life has been in shambles on a number of occasions. But Jesus, and my grandfather, have rescued me from the depths of depravity to make me the Christ follower that I am today.
My father was a truck driver who fell asleep at the wheel and died in a collision when I was four, and my mom was eight months pregnant with my little sister. That was the first time my maternal grandfather stepped in to help guide my life and become our surrogate father. He was a solid Christian who became the anchor in our lives.
From time to time, I would feel a closeness to God, an emotional bond, but emotions have a shelf life. If you don’t continue to seek Him, the world can crowd Him out. When I was a teenager, that certainly took place in my life.
At 16, I started to experiment with marijuana and alcohol. That experiment quickly turned into a semi-addiction. On weekends, I’d get into some hallucinogenic drugs; by 18, I was into cocaine and heroin.
After high school, I entered Auburn University but drank every day and flunked out. I returned home and fell back in with my heroin buddies. I was also deep into sexual promiscuity. I felt God could only love good kids, so I figured He was angry with me. Consequently, I ran from God as fast as I could.
It was an ugly life. My best friend overdosed on drugs and died when I was 18. It didn’t do a thing to snap me out of this. I was living a life of me. I was arrested and thrown in jail several times. But my grandfather loved me unconditionally through all my struggles. He and his friends diligently prayed for my salvation every Saturday for the next 16 years. Although his prayers were not immediately answered, he remained faithful.
Despite my running from Him, Jesus saved me from drugs and alcohol. However, I never gave Him credit; I took the credit myself. And now that I was somewhat clean, I got a nursing degree, married, and had a son. For eight years, I was a good provider, but the drugs and alcohol reared their heads once again into my life.
For the next two years, our marriage was in total disarray. There was so much strife between us that we separated. Everyone around me recognized my depravity; my mom even threatened to call DHR and take my son away.
However, God removed the drugs and alcohol once again from my life. But for a second time, I thought I had done this on my own. Again, I deceived myself.
One night, I was at a small church. I don’t recall any specific message, but the Holy Spirit convicted me. I realized how Christ had never sat on the throne of my life or how He had brought me out of despair. I looked back and saw that I went off the rails every time I didn’t put Him first. At that moment, I pledged to the Lord that He would be the most important part of my life from this point forward.
Nothing magical happened, but my life began to change little by little. I started to pray. I started to live a different life. My wife and I reconciled, and both pledged that the Lord would completely guide our marriage. But I was still not diving deep into His Word.
And that’s where my grandfather again showed his influence in a rather clever way. He “tricked” me and got me involved with Community Bible Study. His group met on Monday evenings, and my grandfather asked me to drive him there weekly, saying he couldn’t see well at night. Since I had to be there, I figured I’d go in and listen. Hearing the word of God discussed every week was eye-opening, and I fell in love with Jesus.
By the way, I did become aware that my grandfather could see just fine at night, and this ruse was his shrewd way of exposing me to God’s Word.
Since that time, I can’t get enough of God’s Word. I love my time at Community Bible Study, and for the past several years, I have become the weekly speaker at it. It’s hard to believe that a guy with my past now leads over 100 men in Community Bible Study every Monday night. At 38, I’m the youngest guy in the room, yet God gives me the words to speak the message that He wants me to deliver each week. I’m His vessel. To quote a song, I’m just a nobody trying to tell everybody about somebody who changed my life.
I look back and see that my grandfather was concerned about eternal things. I was too caught up in temporal things. He planted all those seeds in me that grew into an intense love of the Lord. He had an incredible impact and influence on my life. He has since gone on to be with the Lord in heaven. I miss him and know he would be so proud to see his planted seeds come to harvest. He knew that without Jesus, there is no purpose or direction in one’s life. And Christ will not show up in your life until you surrender to His authority and power.