MY CHANGED LIFE
Jesus Did It!
By: Sonny Samuelson
I lay in the darkness of my boyhood room, hoping to find refuge in sleep. But the grief and despair I was feeling would not let me escape so easily.
Kevin and Scott Briscoe were dead, their lives snuffed out by a head-on collision some 72 hours before. They had been more than just friends, I had grown up with them. Our families had formed a friendship that spanned three generations. They had been closer than brothers. I had never considered life without them.
As a man in my mid-twenties, the notion of mortality had only been a vague impersonal fact. There is no room in the imagination of vigorous youth for such concepts. I was not prepared to wrestle with these ideas. What I wanted, was to run away from them. The best mechanism I had been able to arrive at for dealing with life was avoidance. I would often jest with my friends that "there is no problem too big that can't be run away from." This always produced a good laugh, but it was a manifestation of a very real and sad characteristic of my life.
I had flown down from Oregon to attend the funeral. I was to be one of the pall bearers. I didn't think it was likely that things would improve over the next few days. Being back home didn't help things. I felt like just being in my Christian mother's home was a sort of defilement; like carrying pornographic pictures between the leaves of a Bible.
It was late, and I needed my sleep, but it would not come. Mom had gone up to the Briscoe's to help with the preparation of food for the next day. I got up and rummaged through my suitcase for the small plastic bag, lighter, and papers I had placed there. I stepped outside, glad for the solitude, to seek the relief of a couple of joints.
Looking up at the stars that shown so brightly in the Texas sky, I pulled deeply on the marijuana cigarette. I was eager to feel the mildly euphoric high sweep over my senses. I knew that the Colombian Gold would deal with my grief, depression, and guilt. It was so much easier than dealing with those things myself.
I went back into the house, hiding my stash under clothing in my suitcase. As I settled back into bed, I was disappointed that the dope was letting me down. I didn't even feel high. Normally, I would have felt more relaxed and calm. But my feelings were too strong. The introspection would not be put away so easily. I thought back over the years.
I remembered the little hand puppets that had presented the Gospel at a Christian summer camp I had attended when I was eight. The message of my need for forgiveness had struck a cord in my young mind. I had walked the aisle at the invitation, but I couldn't really recall much more about that night. Nevertheless, from that point on, I attended church with a renewed spirit.
It wasn't long before I discovered the key to the acceptance and admiration that I craved for: act spiritual. Adults would laud me with attention and praise. Several times I recall parents encouraging their own children to "Be more like Scott!" As a teen-ager some parents would actually try to talk me into dating their daughters. It also worked well at home.
Mom and Dad had separated by the time I was twelve and Mom had retained custody. I discovered early on that if I did what my mother wanted -- even when she wasn't around -- that she would grant me greater latitudes of freedom. Normally, in a child, such behavior would be an indication of maturity. In my case, however, it was a tool that let me avoid the issues of maturity while giving me the free reign that I wanted. I suppose it made life easier for Mom, but I know that she sensed that something was amiss.
When I moved away from home, I remember her warning: "Son, there's sin in the camp! Tend to that or it will be your undoing." I rolled over in the bed, straightening the blankets. It was the memory of that admonition that had forced an earnest prayer from my lips only two weeks before.
That night, I had "partied" more furiously than usual. Alcohol, marijuana, cocaine, and hashish had all been involved in the entertainment of the evening. My pregnant wife and I had gone to bed. Although she had not been using since her pregnancy, she had fallen asleep before I had. I lay there and suddenly realized that I had been taken captive. In my earnest search for freedom, I had been imprisoned by the accouterments of that freedom.
From my Bible study, I knew that God alone could free me. But I was afraid of Him. He could allow anything to happen to me, and I feared what He might do if I submitted to His authority. (It didn't occur to me until later that God always has this power over us whether we submit or not, but at the time I had the curious notion that I was beyond His reach so long as I did not call upon His Name.) Nevertheless, I knew that drugs would eventually destroy me.
I had already had several close calls with other criminals and also with the law. More than once, I had awakened on the dirty floor of a public restroom with needles still in my arms. Other situations had brought me close to death through this "recreational" drug use. This couldn't go on. So I looked up at the ceiling. "God," I prayed. "I am far from You. I am a captive my own sins. I know that You care about me and that You don't like me in this condition. So I'm asking You to rescue me before its too late. But don't hurt my wife, my new child, my job, my health, or my possessions. Amen."
I figured I had hedged my bets. I had asked for help, but I had carefully crafted the contract to protect me from any kind of hurt. At least, that is what I thought. Only two weeks later I was back in Texas waiting for a ceremony that I didn't want to attend. I wondered if God had engineered these events. Could this be the situation that He had chosen to respond to my prayer? I needed more evidence. What should I do?
I sighed as I found myself addressing the Creator again, "All right, Lord... if You're using this situation to deal with me, I'm going to need more proof. If You're hearing me, send my Mom right in here to talk to me when she gets home. If you do that, I'll tell her that I need to get right with You." There. That'll do it. I was safe. My Mother is so careful about privacy that there was no way she would just walk into my bedroom.
I heard a car pull up, the front door open, and footsteps down the hall. My Mother opened the door and came into my room. So much for my final contingency. "Okay, Lord... I get the point." Mom was asking me how I was doing, so I began to tell her about my some of my feelings and concerns. If God had gone to the trouble of demonstrating so clearly that He was dealing with me, then I was stuck. I had run out of exception clauses in the contracts I had been making with God.
Mom came over and sat on the edge of my bed and listened. It hadn't been that many years before that my Mother had been faced with a different set of circumstances but with the same options. She had spent the last few years struggling to relinquish her own control of her life to God. In her own way she had been avoiding issues like I had been doing. She knew that her divorce was not God's will, but she had found ways to rationalize all that she had done. But God had dealt with her and now she was living for Him alone.
Haltingly, I explained that my life was in a shambles and that I was enslaved by drugs. Of course, she knew all of this and had been praying for me for years. Nevertheless, she thanked me for confiding with her and told me that I needed to submit my life wholly unto God. He needed to be the final authority for how I lived my life.
Not only is He the only Being in the Universe to fully deserve such submission, but He is completely trustworthy to do what is right and good as He takes charge of a life. He is too intelligent to make a mistake, too powerful to be thwarted, and too loving to be unkind. His omniscience and omnipresence make Him the only logical choice as Lord. Besides all of this, it is His heart's desire to demonstrate His love to men on a one-by-one basis.
I agreed to pray with her. I might have been more hesitant if I had known what would ensue. As I tried to pray, my throat was constricted. It was as though a large pair of hands had gripped me around the neck. Every time I began to utter the first word of my prayer, the grip would tighten, choking off the first word. Repeated attempts to pray only worsened the sensation. Finally, my Mother had to pray for me. What an awful sensation!
As she began to pray it was as if my body was nothing more than skin stuffed with living snakes. They squirmed and slithered under my chest. As Mom continued to pray, the snakes -- one-by-one -- began to loose their grip and vanish. This was a long and laborious process, but when we were done praying, they were gone! I felt clean! I was no longer a slave to my own sin.
I could go on and on, as this was only the beginning. God has continued to lead me and provide for me. He has transformed the deepest part of my character. That is the greatest evidence I can offer for the reality of this story: my changed life. Certainly I have made mistakes since then. I have sinned more often than I care to admit. The big difference is that I am a better man now than I was a month ago. That trend has continued since that night more than twenty years ago.
Thank you and God bless you for reading my story!
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"And this gospel of the
died for sinners] shall be preached in all the world for a witness
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JESUS DID IT! JESUS DID IT! JESUS DID IT! JESUS DID IT! JESUS DID IT! JESUS DID IT! JESUS DID IT! JESUS DID IT! JESUS DID IT! JESUS DID IT! JESUS DID IT! JESUS DID IT! JESUS DID IT! JESUS DID IT! JESUS DID IT! JESUS DID IT! JESUS DID IT! JESUS DID IT! JESUS DID IT! JESUS DID IT! JESUS DID IT! JESUS DID IT! JESUS DID IT! JESUS DID IT! JESUS DID IT! JESUS DID IT! JESUS DID IT! JESUS DID IT! JESUS DID IT! JESUS DID IT! JESUS DID IT! JESUS DID IT! JESUS DID IT! JESUS DID IT! JESUS DID IT! JESUS DID IT! JESUS DID IT! JESUS DID IT! JESUS DID IT! JESUS DID IT! JESUS DID IT! JESUS DID IT! JESUS DID IT! JESUS DID IT! JESUS DID IT! JESUS DID IT! JESUS DID IT! JESUS DID IT! JESUS DID IT! JESUS DID IT! JESUS DID IT! JESUS DID IT!
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