“Jesus looked at them and said, ‘With man this is impossible, but with God all things are possible.’ ” Matthew 19:26 ESV
August 18 was a very special day for me and is always cause for celebration.
That day marked the 9th anniversary of the day I slashed at both sides of my neck with razor blades in a nearly successful attempt to end my life.
Sounds like a particularly ugly thing to celebrate, doesn’t it? I imagine that Jesus Christ hanging on the Cross was a decidedly ugly sight as well, but look at the beauty that followed.
And were it not for the sacrifice of our Lord, Jesus Christ, upon the Cross, these words would never have made it to this screen.
That particular day ended with me lying in – and covered by – my own blood. That was the day I finally turned to God and asked for forgiveness for a life lived in sin.
No. We all live in sin. I was addicted to it.
Waking up in the hospital the next morning and realizing I was not, in fact, dead, and knowing beyond a shadow of doubt who saved me from handing satan the complete victory he seeks from us all, was a feeling I still remember vividly to this day. Most likely I will never forget that feeling as that morning started me on the incredible journey that has been my life for the past 9 years.
That journey took me, as many of you know, through the federal prison system where I spent 4 years, 2 months, and 20 days thanking God for my new life and learning what it means to be free of the pain that kept me a slave to sin for so many decades.
The journey through the Oakdale Federal Correctional Institution in Oakdale, La brought me into contact with many individuals I would be proud to call friends were that not a violation of my supervised release. Many individuals helped me to learn about myself, and grow in my love of God and we engaged in many, many conversations that helped us all grow as children of God, and as men.
One such conversation took place in the dining hall, where I worked, as several of us sat around a table talking during a break. The subject of addiction came up. We had been discussing the need to be different human beings when we were released than the ones who did what we did to get where we were. One man in particular – a very, very tall man whose name I cannot recall – was talking about the hold that pornography had held over him. He said that he was addicted to it and he wasn’t sure he would be able to resist its siren call upon his release.
I asked him if he had considered giving his addiction to God. He looked at me and, quite emphatically, stated, “You don’t know the power of addictions.”
I actually gave a little chuckle and said, “Au contraire.”
I looked at him and said, “I have been addicted to drugs, alcohol, sex, and pornography for many, many years, so I am well acquainted with the power of addiction, but let me ask you this: Do you believe in God?”
“Well, yes,” he answered.
“Do you believe that God created the world and everything on it?”
“Yes,” he answered with a little bit of hesitation.
“Do you believe that He created the universe – the stars, the sun, the moon, all of the galaxies and everything known and unknown?”
“Well, of course, but…”
“Do you believe that God can make the blind see and the lame walk?”
“And do you believe that God raised Jesus Christ from the dead?”
By now, of course, he knew where this was going and he answered quietly, “Yes, I do.”
I leaned into him and said quite emphatically, “Then what makes you think God can’t help you with your petty addiction?”
That ended the conversation that day, but I was reading something sent to me work-related dealing with addictions and that conversation came back to me.
I don’t mean to minimize the hold that addictions have over us. Believe me, I know only too well the power and destructive nature of them. Addictions are tools used to demolish lives and are wielded by the hands of evil with surgical precision and effectiveness.
But I have also experienced the power and restorative nature of God and, like ‘rock smashes scissors,’ God smashes our fear, and our pain, and our weakness, and our doubts and insecurities and provides us with all we need to look our addictions in the eye and say, “Enough is enough.”
If we try to face all of our mess on our own, we just make a bigger mess.
But when we surrender to Christ and lay those addictions at the foot of the Cross – and I mean really lay them down and really surrender – we can do what evil had convinced us was impossible to do.
” For nothing will be impossible with God.” Luke 1:37 ESV