With my head pounding relentlessly, I fell into the easy chair. It was in the living room of the house my brother and I were renting on Hampton Street. There was no way I was going into work today in this condition. It was the morning of Aug. 28, 2001.
Last night, last night ... What happened last night? I tried to mentally reconstruct the evening. I'd been sitting right here, chilling out in the A/C and watching the tube after a hot day of finishing concrete. A friend called. Said he had a bottle of Xanax he'd share if I grabbed some booze on the way over. It's some type of tranquilizer - all I knew was they'd get you high.
After popping a few of those and drinking some and shooting the breeze, his girlfriend called and wanted him to come over. Not owning a car, he wanted me to take him across town to her place. Since I'd been arrested for DUI, I told him if I did that and got pulled over they would make me finish out the year of jail I'd dodged by just getting probation. Already I'd been in jail a half-dozen times by this point in my life, from misdemeanor marijuana possession to the aforementioned DUI to assault. It started in high school. I quit football, quitting on my teammates, coaches and school in the process. I quit track after a day or two, since it was cutting into my newfound extracurricular activities. I quit Scouts just a handful of merit badges short of the rank of Eagle. I almost quit life, sensing in my darker moments - which were often - that a spirit of suicide was stalking me. The saddest part was: my parents didn't raise me like that.
My friend persisted about a ride across town. I kept telling him no. He called a cab. I asked if he minded if I crashed on his couch overnight so I wouldn't have to drive home. He said sure. So that's how I got here with this hangover in what used to be a rough part of south Boise.
With nothing to do but feel rotten, I switched on the TV. There was a black man talking about substance abuse. His name was Ben Kinchlow and the program was "The 700 Club." I had no idea how the TV got on that channel, because we didn't watch religious stations. But that man was talking to me. I couldn't have changed the channel even if I'd wanted to. I can't remember all he said, but I do remember him reciting Hebrews 13:5 - "I will never fail you, nor forsake you." I realized as I leaned forward in the chair something was happening.
I bowed my head and asked God to forgive me of my many sins, and for Jesus to come live in my heart. Fresh and Clean As soon as I said "Amen" a tingle started in my feet and worked its way up through my body, then it seemed like two tons of weight were lifted off my shoulders. Later, I realized it was the burden of guilt and shame I'd been carrying around. I stood up and walked around the living room. I felt fresh and clean - and the hangover was gone. I realize it doesn't happen to everyone like that, but I guess God had to get my attention.
It would be great if I could tell you my life was lived perfectly after that, but it would be a lie. I've struggled mightily at times--succumbed to temptation and been haunted by my past. Most of all, I regret deeply the pain I caused my parents, family, friends and others who got in my way when I selfishly pursued the things I wanted. In the years since that morning there have been times when I just had to figuratively pitch a tent, build a fire and camp out around the truth, such as 1 John 1:9. Why Me? In the fall of 1986 I took a job at a newspaper - something I'd always wanted to do - and remember lying awake at night and asking God, "Why me? How did I deserve this?" He showed me a vision of myself speaking before groups of people, and sometimes they were quite large. "Lord, you gotta be kidding, right? You know public speaking is my greatest fear." So to get some sleep I surrendered and "made a deal" with God. I told Him I would go anywhere, at any time, to tell what He'd done for me - with His help. Since then I have given my testimony of being delivered from 16 years of substance abuse hundreds of times - in churches, to youth groups, at conferences and banquets, in jails, and my senior partner has even sent me across the country to testify of His mercy and grace. Last August, was my 8th spiritual birthday. You see, I'm 36- but I'm 8. That was then - but this is now. You may feel because of past decisions your life is essentially over and there's no hope - but it's never too late to start all over again.