My journey has been a bit like a road trip, taking U-turns, wrong turns and roundabouts, transforming me from a non-believing, hard-hearted man into the person I am today. Jesus changed me, softened my heart and rescued me.
For the first 32 years of my life, I didn’t know much about God or faith. I believed in living for myself. Church, God and all that stuff was something I had never experienced and I had no interest in it. My life was all about me, about self-gain and drinking alcohol.
My choices have almost killed me over the years. I’ve been hospitalised countless times. I’ve been in four rehab centres including a psychiatric facility, had numerous car accidents and far too many .05 charges to mention. I’ve lost friends, family, relationships, even the
respect of my daughters.
At the age of 32, when I thought I knew it all, I somehow let Jesus into my heart. I was self-employed, married with two young daughters and I was very materialistic, aggressive and arrogant. I drank booze excessively every day. I was working a contract at the Horsham Base Hospital (Vic.) when a Salvation Army soldier (member) asked me if I would help with the Red Shield Appeal. I thought to myself, “Why would I do that?” But I did and I enjoyed it.
I was then invited to a church service at Horsham Salvation Army. Again, I thought, “Nah, no way, that’s not for me.” Yet, somehow, on Sunday morning I was at church. My life was changed. Week after week I went back. I was happy, I felt at peace, and saw and felt love all around me. I wanted to know more about Jesus. I felt an excitement inside, a strong feeling of something that I had never experienced before. I believe this was Jesus.
My lifestyle and attitude changed — I even cut back on my drinking. My wife and I became adherents (associate members of The Salvation Army) and our daughters were dedicated to God. Life was looking pretty good.
I was at work when I got the phone call. My wife had died suddenly at home. I was a single dad; my daughters were 11 and seven years old. My faith was not real strong and I struggled. I questioned and argued with God, falling into an on-and-off relationship with Jesus.
At times I reverted back to my old non-caring, sinful ways and attended church less and less.
Blurred years went by. I remarried and my daughters grew up and left home. My wife and I moved to Mildura. We were both heavy drinkers, which didn’t make for a happy marriage. We attended church, but would then get drunk the rest of the week. Eventually we divorced.
At this point I basically gave up on life. No church, no praying, no reading the Bible. I blamed everyone, even God, for the way my life was. I spent years on my own, drinking cheap wine from the time I woke up. I was on the road to drinking myself to death. Doctors even told me, “One more drinking session and you may not come out of it.”
God had different ideas for me. I had given up, but God never gave up on me.
I woke up in my armchair one morning. I didn’t want to go on any more. Before I reached for my first mug of wine, I found myself on my knees. I remember it so clearly. I raised my head and cried out to Jesus, “Forgive me Lord. Help me Lord. I don’t know who I am any more. I need you. Jesus, I give you my heart; I give you my life. I choose you, Lord.”
I found my Bible and my eyes went straight to Psalm 118, verse 5: “In my distress I prayed to the Lord and the Lord answered me and set me free.” Jesus heard me and answered.
By the grace of God, I haven’t touched any alcohol since that day (19 April 2018). Jesus not only set me free, he healed me in so many ways. I felt at peace, the hurt and anger gone.
Today my life is the opposite of what it used to be. Jesus saved me from a worldly mess and an early death. I couldn’t forgive; now I can because Jesus forgave me. I can love because Jesus loves me.
God has given me friends, he’s given me back my family, he’s given me peace, joy, happiness and an overwhelming desire to live, give and share how the love of Jesus changes lives. I have that strong feeling of excitement again because I know that Jesus is living in me. Now there is no turning back.