I was raised in a small Baptist church in Southeast Alabama. My dad left us when I was around the age of 9. My mom took us to church every time the doors were open, as some may have experienced themselves.
I found myself going to the altar about age 12 and praying the sinners prayer, but it was more because everyone else was doing that, rather than me making a serious decision.
When my dad left us, we lost our home out in the country, but mom found a place in town, and right away I began hanging out with the wrong crowd. Since my sister is 18 months older than I am, the guys she hung out with took an interest in me. This was not good because many of them drank and participated in the drug scene.
Because my dad was an alcoholic, I swore to myself, I would never drink. However, peer pressure won out. I began to drink.
The guys were 2 to 6 years older than me and I sure didn’t want to look foolish by not drinking. I really hated the taste of beer in the beginning, but I certainly was not going to let them know it. As you can imagine, it was not long before the taste was something I wanted. (That’s the enemy’s intent)
The drugs were much the same. Again, I swore to myself, “I will “never” do drugs”, but again, the pressure of those older than me won out. Smoking pot became the “first thing on the list”. Once I began pot, and enjoying the feeling it gave me (Satan never tempts you with something that will give you a bad feeling in the beginning), I said to myself, “okay, I’ll do pot, but that’s it. Nothing more.”
Little did I know what the enemy of my soul had in mind. Destruction—with a CAPITAL “D”.
While I began with drinking, that led to smoking. Smoking led to speed, speed led to cocaine. There was no end to this seducing spirit that had entered my life.
Destruction was happening—little by little with me being unaware.
When I graduated from high school, I fell into “lust” (rather than love). Married a girl and the marriage of lust lasted only 10 months. We both had the attitude, “if it don’t work, we’ll just get a divorce”. By this time I was doing any drug offered to me or made available.
Soon, I moved to New Orleans and was introduced to the “needle”. This got me hooked on shooting up cocaine. “D”estruction.
I began working on an offshore oil drilling rig in 1977. Looking back, this probably saved my life— I worked 7 days on and 7 days off. Rarely, on the 7 day tour at work, did anyone sneak drugs onto the rig, and there was no drinking on the rig—so that was really the only time I was able to “dry out”.
The 7 days at home was another story entirely. I drank and did drugs continually.
I had shut myself off from my family and from anyone who cared about me.
My mother is a very godly woman and I love her very much, but I could not allow myself to spend much time with her—and didn’t want her to see me this way—so for about 5 years, she rarely saw me. But she never stopped praying for her prodigal son.
She and my granny (her mother) prayed constantly. One day my granddaddy, who was a Baptist minister, told them to stop praying for God to save me –and start praying for Him to keep me alive until I got saved. That prayer worked.
I went home on some holidays, but rarely stayed very long. All my family were Christians –and although they were never pushy about Jesus, I felt the conviction on my life just by being around them.
I had moved from New Orleans to Ft. Walton in ’79, and as I look back at my offshore job, I realize where it had a hand in saving my life. I had been home a couple of days and was strung out on shooting up cocaine. I had been shooting up all day.
Around 1 o’clock in the morning I put the needle in my arm to shoot up again. When I put the needle in the vein to draw back blood–the blood that entered that syringe looked like red clabbered milk. It was so thick it would not come out of the needle.
That scared me. I was scared that I was about to die. I left the apartment and walked the streets of Ft. Walton until sun up. I thought if I laid down, I will surely die. Even in my drugged stupor, I knew this. The next couple of days were a blur. I don’t know—or even remember how I made it through. I went back offshore to work that week, but when I got off, I went to my mom’s to stay the “usual 30 to 40 minutes”. That day, my 15 year old niece hugged me as I was about to leave and said, “I love you and I care about you”.
Outside of my immediate family, I had never heard those words in a very long time. That day, those simple words really meant something.
I left mom’s house and stopped at a store before getting on I-10 and got a six-pack and rolled a joint for the road. I remember opening a beer, and then I heard that sweet little voice again. “I love you and I care about you.”
Those words from my niece broke this drug addict and alcoholic. I cried for 2 hours all the way back to Ft. Walton. I never lit the joint, never drank a swallow of beer.
Something happened that I couldn’t explain. I went back to work that week—and when I got off; I went straight to mom’s and shocked everyone, including myself by “spending the night”. I was not really sure what was going on –but God was sure. It was Saturday night. The next morning, mom asked me to go to church with her. Now honestly, church was not in the picture for me. I had no church clothes, all I had were cut off jeans and old shirt. But for some reason, I found I couldn’t say no.
Get this: Everything I wore to church that day was borrowed, except my underwear. Pants, shoes, shirt, belt—everything.
The service that morning was not anything you might imagine that would cause a sinner to run to the altar; however, I was uncomfortable during the altar call. I felt something in my heart I had never felt before. I knew I was supposed to go to the altar, but I fought it off. I bet there are still hand-prints in the back of the pew in front of me where I clung to old life. From this side, I know it was The Holy Spirit drawing me to Him….
I went to moms for lunch—then miraculously back to church that night.
Same feelings. Same refusal to obey. I could not let go.
That night, when I left church, driving down the road I heard a voice. “If you die tonight, you will go to hell”.
I got to moms and asked her to call the pastor and asked if he would meet me back at the church. We met in the fellowship hall, I shared with Bro. Gary Wiggins, he shared the simple Gospel truth with me.
I don’t remember all that was said, but what I do remember is praying the sinner’s prayer. When I asked for forgiveness, I felt this coolness like a washing from my head and moved all the way down to my feet.
That night, August 16, 1981, I was born into the family of God. Amazing Grace.
Since that life changing night, God has kept His divine hand in and on my life. I wouldn’t want to face a day without Him as my LORD, my Savior and my Guide.
What about you friend? Are you in a place of hopelessness? A place where you only see the dark? God, and ONLY God can bring in the Light–and that Light is HIS only Son, Jesus Christ. No one can come to the Father, except The Spirit draw him (John 14:6)…that’s just what happened with me.
The Holy Spirit drew me–I saw myself in the predicament –the life I was living. The Bible says in Acts 6:23, “For the wages of sin is death; but the gift of God is eternal life through Jesus Christ our Lord.”
I was bound by sin–picture yourself in chains–the sinful life I was living was casting me into an eternal death. But Christ came so that we might have life–eternally with Christ Jesus. Jesus held out His nail scared hand and I took it–and HE changed my destination. From hell to heaven.
I pray that you find that same Spirit drawing you today. A miracle took place that night–not only did Christ save my wretched soul, but He came and healed my body of alcoholism and drug addiction. What might take many weeks, God did in a manner that I would never forget–with my precious mother by my side–God remained faithful.
My wife, Angie, and I have dedicated our lives to “go where He leads”–missionaries at heart– married for over 31 years–living intentionally His.
This next portion and prayer is also found on “First Steps” in our header:
1. Recognize and admit that you are lost without Him.
You cannot “make yourself” over–or become good enough to belong to Jesus–you must trust in and believe on Him. He is not waiting on you to “get it all together” before you present yourself to Him–He wants you as you are. Flaws and all.
2. Believe in JESUS
“For there [is only] one God, and [only] one Mediator between God and men, the Man Christ Jesus, Who gave Himself as a ransom for all…” (1 Timothy 2:5 AMP).
God sent Jesus Christ to be the Savior of the world. Romans 10: 9-10 says, “For if you tell others with your own mouth that Jesus Christ is your Lord and believe in your own heart that God has raised him from the dead, you will be saved. For it is by believing in his heart that a man becomes right with God; and with his mouth he tells others of his faith, confirming his salvation” (TLB).
3. Ask Him in. Into your heart and life–ask Him to forgive you of your sins.
The Bible says we “all have sinned, and come short of the glory of God.” (Romans 3:23)
This simple prayer—when prayed in sincerity—will bring you into personal relationship with God.
Heavenly Father, I acknowledge that without You I can do nothing–and that I am a sinner in need of a Savior. I am not able to change my life or circumstances through my own efforts. I realize that You provided a way for me to know You and live with You eternally through the sacrifice of Your only Son, Jesus Christ. I accept His gift of life fully–whole heartedly! Live in me–purifying my heart, mind and life with Your love. Show me how to live–directing my thoughts and my life from today forward. May I be found pleasing in Your sight. In Jesus Holy Name I pray. Amen
February 27th, 2014 at 5:43 pm
Wow! Jeff your story is so powerful! The grace of God is truly amazing!! I pray for all the things The Lord has for you and Angie. B
March 1st, 2014 at 2:47 pm
Wow So powerful. Thank you and I'm sharing this my friend.
Love you both.. Very much. Hugs, Lynn
April 27th, 2015 at 10:18 pm
Wow such a awesome testimony!