“I have been thinking of the things that have changed in my life since I started to come to The River and it is a long list.
I used to live with crippling back pain and between 2005 to 2010, I could take 300 milligrams of hydrocodone(narcotic in vicodin) and still be in pain. I wish I could say that I took the pills only for the pain but I was weak and thought that it was a good way to dull the other pain I was feeling as well. I was seriously addicted. I would start to experience withdrawal symptoms after only 6 to 8 hours of not taking them. I blamed God for all that was wrong in my life.
One of the reasons I took so many pills was due to P.T.S.D (Post Traumatic Stress Disorder). Traumatic events from my childhood added to the horrors I had seen serving on a volunteer ambulance. Also, the war in Iraq had made me a very broken person. Many nights I would wake up in terror fearing for my life. Being around large groups made me so anxious, and that anxiety would turn to anger and hate.
One service I was sitting in a pew half-heartedly listening to the teaching and the pastor said something I found very profound. He said that God had made us to rule over the earth. That nothing was supposed to be over us. He went on to say that we were not made to be ruled over by the things of man, like addiction. That we were the children of a King. After that service, I went home and walked into my bathroom and wept at what I had become. That was when I decided that things needed to change. I started a long and very hard road to what I called slaying the dragon. I borrowed that from “chasing the dragon”. This is what opiate addicts sometimes call getting high. This was my first stand against darkness where I chose to wear the armor of Christ. It wasn’t easy and every day was a new battle for my life but Christ brought me the victory I was seeking and I did slay the dragon. Every time I started feeling tired and weak, I would tell myself that Christ made me to rule. It was my duty to follow the path that Christ had set me on and to follow Him no matter how scared I got or down on myself I felt. With God’s love and grace holding me up, I was able to win that battle and continue to win the war against that monster in my life. Every time I start to feel like I need or want a painkiller I pray and pray some more and Christ delivers.
Today, life is very different. I don’t live with back pain anymore and the P.T.S.D is no longer in control of my life. I spent so much time trying to do things my way and ignoring what God was telling me. He never left me. What amazes me the most is that as soon as I truly accepted Christ into my life and returned the love He had for me, life changed. I wish I could put this feeling into words. My mother-in-law described it to me the best…God is like a father that will hug his child no matter how dirty they are.
I am at a point in my walk with Christ that I feel the need to share what he has done in my life. If the love of Christ can change a broken and bitter man on a path of darkness and destruction into the man I am today what can he do in the lives of others?