There are many people, including some close friends and many online acquaintances who are still not aware of my horrible past. Yes, I have quite a few skeletons in my closet. But I share this story publicly to demonstrate the awesome power of God to change a person. Though this true account is about 1200 words, it is but a snippet from the tail end of the old me.
Dancing With the Devil (Copyrighted material. Previously published in Trials & Triumphs II)
In a cold jail cell over a quarter century ago, withdrawals from heroin, cocaine and various pills detached my tortured mind from reality. Lying on my back in a pool of sweat and vomit, the room spun out of control, just as my life had.
Since age eleven, I had called myself a Christian. Then at seventeen I was introduced to the party life and began smoking pot. Still attending church, I played the part. I’d never take the Lord’s name in vain, refused to steal, or listen to music that sounded evil. When party mates cursed in God’s name I’d be offended and told them so.
Over a decade later I was facing twenty-five years in prison including parole and probation violations, and a new charge for possession. My body went limp. My life is over, I thought.
I wailed out to God as I’d done many times whenever my lifestyle had gotten me into hot water. But this time was different. The Lord refused to respond.
He’d always accepted me back before—always forgiven me. But my Savior knew the perfect wake-up call for me. I needed to understand the darkness I’d chosen over Him, and what it means to be without the peace He gives. One terrifying question blared in my head. Have I strayed too far?
Staring at the ceiling, it felt like I was inside a scrap-metal crusher, and realizing my own stupidity added to the pressure bearing down on my soul. Empty inside, and hopeless, black despair enveloped my being.
Suddenly, a personification of the devil himself appeared in my cell, accompanied by two demons. I remember thinking how strange their evil & joyless laughter sounded. They too were miserable. Satan spoke horrifying words. “You belong to me now, God is finished with you. You’re all out of second chances.”
Then two of the most gruesome creatures any mind could conger up hovered over my aching body. Their faces were gray and misshapen with huge elongated skulls, the way space-aliens are depicted. Slobbery slime oozed from their thin lips and dripped onto my face. Desperately I tried to wipe it away but they grabbed hold of my arms, still laughing. Their cold lifeless eyes looked empty, as clammy hands lifted me onto my feet. One demon mockingly held me in his spectral arms and twirled around in a devilish dance as if to romance me.
I thought I’d known fear before that day. Yet nothing can describe the deep-seated dread I felt. At the apex of fright, I blacked out.
When I awoke I was in a new cell. Immediately I crashed to my knees on the unforgiving concrete floor, and cried aloud to Jesus.
“Mercy, Lord have mercy on me!”
During these, the darkest hours of my life, my heart ached with desperation. I’d been cut off from my well of hope. I needed the peace which goes beyond all physical circumstances. The same peace I’d experienced in my past relationship with the Savior of the world.
In the tiny cell was a small steel table welded to the steel wall, which matched the steel bars and bunk. There, lay a newspaper glowing in a halo of light as if it were calling me. I didn’t recognize the publication: “The Christian Inmate News”.
The cover announced an article titled “The Prince of Peace”.
I thought, I wrote an article with the same title, and submitted it to…
I couldn’t remember where. Drugs had fried my memory. Scrambling to that column, my own name was listed as the author.
It IS my article! I’d submitted it over a year prior.
As I read, waves of warm comfort washed over me. The tension ebbed from my body along with the pain.
How ironic is it that the words I’d written nearly two years before that day, during a one month stint in county jail, would be the exact words I needed to hear just then? Writing of Jesus, I’d said, “Sometimes He calms the storm and sometimes He lets the storm rage and calms His child instead”.
Afterwards, I lifted my head and stretched out my hands toward heaven. I could sense the powerful and loving embrace of Jesus. My spirit heard those sweet words I so longed to hear. “You are forgiven.”
Again and again, I’d heard those comforting words from my Savior.
How can He forgive me, yet again? What kind of love is so great? Only His!
Finally, surrendering completely to God’s will, I’ve never abused another drug. And He empowers me to live the kind of life that pleases Him. Before then, I’d been double minded, refusing to let go of things I thought brought comfort. But only Jesus has the comfort I need.
Engulfed in peace, my shouts echoed down the corridor. “I’m forgiven!”
The jail’s Chaplain researched how that newspaper ended up in my cell, and found no answers. He must approve all reading material before it enters the facility.
I asked, “Are there any more copies?”
“Christian Inmate News? Never heard of it.”
Suddenly, I wasn’t so concerned with how long I’d spend in prison. Jesus was with me! In His mercy, God reduced my time behind bars to only two years out of a possible twenty-five. During those twenty-four months, glorious things began to happen.
One day a hulking muscle-bound guard strode to my cell and extended a bundle of letters, all addressed to me.
I said, “But nobody even knows I’m here!”
The letters were responses to my published article from inmates all over the country. They too needed the peace that transcends all understanding. But as the Lord gave me words to write back to them, a problem presented itself. The law states that inmates cannot send mail to another institution.
Then how did their letters reach me? I wondered.
I had no one to relay return messages for me, so I mailed my replies anyway. Twelve men had written in response to that article, and I answered all of them. Every single correspondence went through, regardless of the rule of non-communication between institutions. Most of them continued to write back, expressing transformations taking place in their hearts. It was cause for great joy and celebration!
Transferred to where I’d serve my time, I was approached by the chaplain who knew me from worship services. “I need an assistant, you interested?”
I must’ve been beaming. “Are you kidding? You bet I am!”
The position offered freedom of movement, trust, and a computer to write on. I led services, preached, taught the bible, counselled the men, and gave my testimony countless times. I even wrote a praise song, performing it at a prison seminar for five-hundred men. The Lord was grooming me for the ministry in which I am today engaged.
Completing my education in and out of prison, I became an ordained minister of the Gospel of Christ.
Jesus is a mighty Savior, who can do all things. He salvaged this life from the scrap heap to display His glory. He’s given me position, honor and respect. And Love! My life has proven God’s word true.
“…Whatsoever a man soweth that shall he also reap…” Galatians 6:7