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238 || Hope Across the Aisle

I’d like to believe my meeting Lori was God-ordained. We met one Sunday at church. I was across the aisle from her; she was sitting alone, and I was sitting alone. I was prompted by the Holy Spirit to walk across the aisle and introduce myself during our communion service. As we talked, we realized we were experiencing similar circumstances in our lives, and we shared a deep faith that God would work our situations out for our good despite our trials.

As Lori and I continued to spend time together, she shared that she was a five-year overcomer, delivered from a life ravaged and dictated by an addiction to crack cocaine. Her passion to share her story and help others in similar situations inspired me.

Over time, Lori unfolded her story for me, and I’m sharing it with you today.

A Voice She Couldn’t Ignore

I’d like to share with you a pivotal, spiritual moment I had in 1996. I had been a recreational marijuana-user for seven years by then. I had tried cocaine once or twice but had not indulged regularly. However, I became friends with someone who did indulge regularly, and before long I was using cocaine recreationally.

Early one morning, after an all-nighter with my new friend, I drove to a local park where I continued using. My nose began to run, so I wiped my finger across it. When I lowered my hand, I was shocked to see the blood. What happened next was something I had never experienced before, one of those few God-moments I’d heard might happen to some people. I clearly heard God’s voice speaking to me.

“If you do not go and get help today, you are going to throw your life away to drugs.” Because the warning was so clear, I left the park and drove straight to a big, pink church I had visited only twice.

Real Love in a Pink Building

I arrived at the church 30 minutes before it opened, so it was no surprise to me when the young lady opening the door said the pastor wasn’t available. But I was persistent. “I am high on cocaine right now, and I really need to speak with the pastor!” She went inside, and in less than a minute, the pastor was standing at the door. He invited me in.

Through many tears and tissues, I told him my story. I was raised in the church because of my beloved mother, and I always believed in God and His Son, Jesus Christ, but I also knew in my heart I didn’t really know Him and had no idea what a relationship with Him meant. I shared the broad strokes of my life with him and what led me to the point of our meeting.

In a lull between my explanation and tears, he said to me, “Lori, Jesus Christ loves you. Right here, right now, high on cocaine, Jesus loves you!”

I completely fell apart. I accepted two things that day: Jesus Christ as my Lord and Savior and that my life would never be the same. I remember taking a long walk when I got home and fully knowing (mentally, emotionally, and spiritually) that this was a turning point. I laid two addictions down that very day, cocaine and marijuana.

Unfortunately, this is only the beginning of my story.

Back to the Familiar

After a successful eight years without cocaine and marijuana, four of those years spent working as assistant to the senior pastor of the pink church where I was active in outreach and missions, rejection sent me spiraling out of control. I had not been chosen to go on a mission trip to Madagascar, and the rejection drove me to find solace in the wrong person.

Someone else began satisfying voids that were meant for God alone to heal and fill. I compromised my heart, my beliefs, my faith in God and His love for me and allowed a new love to be my new source of fulfillment. It was a relationship that had to end, and the void and vacuum I felt in my heart when it did end were more than I could bear. I returned to an old form of escape I had left behind years before. But this time, instead of marijuana or cocaine, I turned to crack cocaine.

Three months after I first used crack cocaine on February 17, 2004, I lost my apartment, my job and was spending an average of $300.00 a day on my drug addiction. Due to an average of three to five-day stretches of use that thwarted any desire to eat or sleep, I weighed a whopping 93 pounds. In short, I was a full-blown crack addict! If anyone had told me just one year earlier this would be my life, I honestly would have laughed and said, “No way!!!”

Learning Where to Rest

It took three faith-based recovery programs between 2004 and 2008 before I saw victory. Throughout my stints in and out of rehab, I discovered truths I have come to know experientially and accept unwaveringly.

Any sin I once thought I was incapable of committing is out the window. I am capable of anything!

The path is narrow, my friend; be careful to stay on it!

As long as I am in this earthly body, I will always have areas of my mind, heart and soul that will need to be renewed.

Finally, I know God has my best interest at heart. This is a great truth when we are wondering what He is doing and where things are headed, when it looks and feels so unclear. When we trust this truth, we can rest in the unrest.

Whenever I give my testimony, I like to end with a passage of Scripture from Psalm 18:1-19 because it is the perfect picture and description of what I believe God did for me. It outlines the path leading in and out of my addiction.

… He rescued me from my strong enemy and from those who hated me, for they were too mighty for me. They confronted me in the day of my calamity, but the LORD was my support. He brought me out into a broad place; He rescued me, because He delighted in me” (Psalm 18:17-19).

Memorializing Life

I have a tattoo, a permanent reminder to never forget where God found me and where He has brought me. It is also a visual symbol of my worship to God for what He has done for me. Just as God commanded the Israelites to place tassels with a blue cord on the ends of their garments as a reminder to keep the commandments (Numbers 15:37-41), my REMEMBER tattoo, with its blue, flowing tassels displayed prominently on my foot, reminds me to press on toward the goal and win the prize for which God has called me heavenward in Jesus.

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