Twenty years ago if you would have told me this was the life I would be living, I probably would have laughed and told you that you had consulted the wrong crystal ball. I was working between 50-60 hours every week but still always somehow managed to be broke. I had a thing for a guy who sold marijuana and crack for a living. I had seen and heard about he and his brothers and some of the things they had done. They were violent and dangerous. But they were nice to me so as a young girl, I felt special. I worked the night shift and I would get off of work at 9 am every morning and go to friend’s houses and we would drink and smoke weed before sleeping for the day - then I’d go back to work that night. Days off were more of the same - just in greater quantities. I was broke, tired, and broken. I thought that having fun would fill that nameless void in my life, but turns out it just made it bigger.
One morning I left the guy’s house who I had a thing for with about 2 ounces of marijuana in my trunk. I had been asked to take it to a local motel and drop it off to a man that I didn’t know but who was expecting me. I had just been given his room number. I was driving a car with expired tags. I had no insurance and an expired driver’s license. I was also high. As I drove down the residential side streets, I looked in my rearview mirror and saw flashing police sirens. I had to physically hold down my vomit. At that moment, I knew I was looking at doing prison time.
The cop came to my window and to be honest, I was out of it enough for the whole memory to be pretty hazy. But I do remember thinking to myself to just hold it together…don’t let him know that I was freaking out. Just stay calm. Thoughts of my parents disappointment and wrath went through my head. Would I lose my job? Would I lose my place to live? Why was I such an idiot?
I don’t know if it was the grace of God or if it was someone doing their job poorly that day, but somehow I ended up driving away from that moment with a simple warning to not roll through stop signs. He didn’t ask for my license or proof of insurance. He didn’t notice the expired tags. He didn’t sense that I was not sober. And he definitely didn’t have reason to look for anything in my trunk.
I went back to my apartment that morning and I laid down on my bed. I contemplated my own stupidity and all of the what-could-have-beens. I could be in jail. I could have killed someone by driving impaired. I could have been raped or killed by the strange man I was delivering drugs to. In that moment I knew I was being faced with a choice. I could continue along the same road I was on or I could change.
I remember being on my knees next to my bed praying for God to help me get out of the life I was in. I was in tears and I was ashamed and scared that I was already in too far. My prayer was heartfelt and deep. I wanted to change but wasn’t sure how to do it. Even though the solution was simple, at the time my brain was foggy and clouded with sin and deception to the point where what was possible seemed impossible.
Less than 24 hours later my phone rang. It was an old boss from a state away who I hadn’t seen or spoken to in over a year. She said that there was an opening in one of her locations and had just thought about me and wondered if I might be interested in coming back to work there again. When I got off of the phone with her, I had my first experience with God where I felt humbled and slightly unnerved by His obvious presence. He heard my prayer and answered. He was providing me with a solution to my problem, a way of escape.
“Ask, and it shall be given you; seek, and ye shall find; knock, and the door shall be opened to you:” Matthew 7:7
I took the out and slowly but steadily have built on that moment in my walk with God. I’ve seen God work in obvious ways in my life through the years. There have been times when His hand is so clearly in things that I almost feel compelled to just stand in silence and acknowledge Him and His power. These are the moments that increase your faith.
And now that my husband and I are involved in ministry, I see it in other people’s lives all of the time. I see people who are standing on a cliff and they have difficult choices to make. If they choose one way, there will be peace and a deeper sense of joy but it can be difficult and takes trusting in something greater than yourself. The other way ultimately brings sorrow and strain, but can be fun and is usually easier. It kills me to watch as most people choose to jump off of the cliff rather than turning back to safety.
Every day we are faced with choices to do the right thing or the wrong thing. We can lie or we can tell the truth. We can be faithful or we can cheat. We can forgive or we can hold a grudge. We can gossip or we can hold our tongues. We can stay in a bad relationship or we can get out of it. We can indulge our flesh or we can care for our bodies.
What choices are facing you today? Do you feel like you have the power to make the right one? If not, do you know where to turn to get that strength? Jesus says that His yoke is easy and His burden is light. He wants to take your struggles on as His own and show you how He can give you a better life. You just have to choose to accept it.
Twenty years ago I didn’t think I was capable or worthy of having the life that God has blessed me with today. I am glad that for that one brief moment on the bedroom floor of my apartment I opened the door just enough for God to come in and make some changes.
It’s funny how your darkest hour can also be your most shining moment.
“ The thief comes only to steal and kill and destroy; I have come that they may have life, and have it to the full.” John 10:10