Don would like to take us on some of his life’s journey and where he is today. He says that the desire to please God does in fact please Him.
Hi I’m Don.
Today I would like to take you on some of my life’s journey and to where I am today.
I’m 42 years old and was baptized into the faith 10 months ago on May 13 2000. I was born in Moose Jaw and lived there with my parents and two brothers and a sister. My sister left home at the age of 16, my brothers joined the navy at age 16 and 17 when I was 5 to six years old. To this day I don’t know the specific reasons for this, but suspect the physical and mental anguish they experienced at home was the main reason. So, I was basically raised as an only child.
My father was not a religious man at all and to this day is a prime example of a confused agnostic. My mother followed his example or was punished with physical and mental terrorism by my father.
During my childhood there were always references to God and Jesus, but always in anger and in vain. I was always tested for my knowledge such as sense of directions and mathematical problems. I will always remember the hallway in the house where these tests took place. There was always the threat of physical punishment for the simplest wrong. I was taught to never show my emotions, whether they were happy or sad, because that was perceived as weakness.
When I was seven I was sent to speech therapy by my school. My father viewed this as a complete failure on my part. I became very quite and withdrawn and only spoke if I had to.
When I was a young boy my mother sent me to Sunday school, although my parents never set foot inside the church. I even attended vacation bible schools in the summers when I was between 7 and 11 years old.
As I entered my teen years the pressures of my age and my peers drew me away from the anything I had learnt at the church and directly into my own self-will. My family looked at this as a good change in my life. It was not!
I managed to stay away from alcohol and drugs until my senior year in high school. I started drinking occasionally on weekends in the later part of that year. I had been seeing the use of drugs; at parties and in the music I listened to, but didn’t become involved with them until the summer after graduation. From the time I first used drugs, I was high almost every day for 5 years. In 1977 I was charged with possession of marijuana for the purpose of trafficking, but was convicted of simple possession. This resulted in moving home with my parents for a few months. I became even more anti-social and was associating with many people in the drug trade. Then I got messed up in the legal system again. I was charged and convicted of trafficking in marijuana in 1982. I was very angry with the laws and myself and couldn’t see any future from there except jail and failure. It turned out the court system was lenient with me and I got a very stiff fine. What if there would have been the punishment I deserved? Would my life have progressed differently? We can’t live on what ifs… there was a greater power at work.
I made a choice at that time to switch to the legal drug alcohol. It was an immediate addiction. Alcohol seemed to be my friend but soon turned out to be my worst enemy.
There was a sickness within me.
A sickness of the soul.
As time went on, hiding behind the mask of addictions became worse and worse. First it was drugs, then alcohol. Soon nothing else mattered. The drugs I used in my early twenties kept me away from alcohol, but I used them as they say, “to feed my head” and was, at the very least, phsycologiclly addicted. I think I was an alcoholic from the time I had my first drink.
I was living in a world of blackouts, not remembering major things from the night before, sometimes not remembering how I got to bed. There were many times I insulted and embarrassed people with my comments and actions. I thought I was acting normal, but how can you in a red eyed, drunken stupor. I caused my family especially Trudy, a great deal of pain by my actions, showing up to public functions not knowing why or how I got there, going to school functions and interviews drunk, trying to have conversations and just letting the alcohol ramble on. I worked lots of hours at work, not to benefit my family, but to gain money to feed my addiction. I embarrassed my sons by my actions around their friends and at scouting functions. I did the program of scouting a great disservice by attempting to be a leader in my condition.
What I did know of God, prayer, and even good ethics was disappearing. The evil one was taking over. For me, satan lives in a bottle.
I was very good at twisting people, things and relationships to suit my own needs. Other peoples needs became unimportant. I was losing touch with my family, friends and reality. The only priorities in my life were drinking, sleeping, passing out and myself.
I tried living by codes of ethics like the scouting principles, tried the recovery program of AA, was getting counseling, but none of this worked to get me back on track.
Trough it all, God was being mentioned everywhere. My friends and family were praying for me but I only asked myself to which God and did it matter anyway? I was sure Jesus couldn’t help me because I had so alienated Him from my life, I couldn’t even look at His picture. Today I realize that was because I needed Him so badly, but was embarrassed of my sin or afraid of the results of it.
I was always somewhat of a student of spirituality, this I think came from my limited exposure to the church in the past. I found myself searching for a meaning to God I could accept, seeking information on all sorts of religions, but after finding limited proof, for me anyway, I couldn’t accept any of them. This was a dilemma I couldn’t overcome on my own.
Now the good news.
My life held many blessings. I was married to Trudy in 1984 and we were blessed with two wonderful children, Zac and Ben. I held down a good job and have for 25 years. I had a small group of close friends and enjoyed many of the good things in life even while living in the slavery of alcoholism.
In my past I would pray God if there is a God, help me. Now it was slowly becoming God what do I have to do? Then I quietly and unquestionably turned my problems over to God. I truly believe this was the result of the prayers others had for me.
I will always remember when Gods answer came. I got help for my addiction problem quickly, bypassing waiting lists for treatment.
I felt a strong intercession of the Holy Spirit in my life in the coming weeks and months. I was overcome with a feeling of joy I had never felt before. No human power could have relived me of my addiction and self-centerness but God could and would. I only need to seek Him and ask. I had surrendered my will to God and the miracle of real life in his hands opened up before me. My AA recovery program began to take on a new meaning and was working! I felt like I had been re-born.
The spirit led me to churches in search of worship and understanding of where I was being led. One Sunday our family came to St. Peters and the feeling of a spirit filled, joyful family of believers personally overwhelmed me. We were accepted with open arms and I had found a home in the church.
In the coming months, God kept doing for me what I could not do for myself. I continued to pray and thank Him for His intercession in my life and was led further.
I started attending life with God classes and again learnt about my salvation though Jesus Christ. When I first started attending these classes I was very afraid that my understanding I now had of God would be destroyed. Nothing was farther from the truth! Through Gods grace and faith in Him alone, I knew Jesus was the lord of my salvation. I prayed and received Jesus as my savior.
I was baptized in May and at that time made a pledge to God and Jesus to continue to learn and grow in my new life. As a Christian I believe it is my duty and destiny to become more like Jesus.
A scripture that I think relates to this is Romans 6: 1-7
1 What shall we say, then? Shall we go on sinning so that grace may increase?
2 By no means! We died to sin; how can we live in it any longer?
3 Or don’t you know that all of us who were baptized into Christ Jesus were baptized into his death?
4 We were therefore buried with him through baptism into death in order that, just as Christ was raised from the dead through the glory of the Father, we too may live a new life.
5 If we have been united with him like this in his death, we will certainly also be united with him in his resurrection.
6 For we know that our old self was crucified with him so that the body of sin might be done away with, that we should no longer be slaves to sin—
7 Because anyone who has died has been freed from sin.
I still have a long ways to go. I have my whole new life to praise God for his miracles in my life and follow the ways and teachings of Jesus that will lead me to our Father in heaven when this life is finished.
The learning and work will never be complete, but if God is for us, who can be against us.
As the song says: I’m trading my sorrow, I’m trading my pain
I’m laying them down for the joy of the Lord.
In closing I would like to pray.
I have no idea where I am going.
I do not see the road ahead of me.
I can not know for certain where it will end.
Nor do I really know myself…and the fact that I think that I am following Your will does not mean I am actually doing so.
But I believe this:
I believe that the desire to please You does in fact please You.
I hope I have that desire in everything I do.
I hope I never persist in anything apart from that desire.
And I know if I do this You will lead me by the right roar, though I may know nothing about it at the time.
Therefore I will trust You always, for though I may be lost-and in the shadow of death-I will not be afraid, because I know You will never leave me alone to face my troubles all alone
Praise be to God
In Jesus’ name