A conversation in church this past Sunday morning with my pastor and someone who has been going through some extra tough times and has endured much suffering this year inspired me to write this. I am so in awe and blessed by how God strengthens this person to keep her faith and trust in Him as well as my pastor who has also been through her share of suffering. I am always so encouraged by others’ strength and how they continue to praise God no matter what. I am grateful to be surrounded by so many strong Christians. That is how I want to be. It is so easy to praise God when things are going well. Unfortunately, it is also easy to forget about Him and not spend time with Him when things are going well. But to continue to praise Him in the midst of suffering, well, that is absolutely amazing to me. That is what I am being taught to do on this incredible but super challenging journey and I am grateful. It is life-changing. It continues to be life-saving for me. Praising God, especially with heavy hearted praises has brought incredible blessings into the lives who choose to praise Him no matter what. And now that I have learned to do that myself – to completely pour out my heart to God in praises, no matter how hard it may be at times or how many tears come with it, all I can say is WOW. God continues to show up BIG in my life and I am especially blessed when I hear from others how they can see God’s hand on my life. It is not just me telling a story, God is showing people!
I hear Christians wonder how others get through life, especially the tough times without God. I hear it often and I have said it myself even though I have not been a Christian for very long. For the first time today, once I heard my friend say that she wonders how others get through things like she’s been going through without God, suddenly I realized and said to her and my pastor that I know how others are getting through this life without God. How could I forget that I used to be one of them! I was reminded of exactly how my life was when I was going through it without God. Many people are barely surviving life because He is not a part of it. That was me. That was the choice I had made. No one made it for me, I made the choice. I chose to live with no hope. I chose to live in depression, drunkenness, darkness, and death. Amazing how they all start with the letter “d” just like “devil”.
Anyway, my heart breaks now because I see so many making those very same choices. Unfortunately, most would have a hard time admitting it or seeing that they are indeed the ones making the choice. A lot of us go through hard times in life and we end up blaming everyone else for our troubles. We blame God. For me, it was all my dad’s fault that I reached for alcohol when life got too hard after he abandoned me. It was all his fault even though he was not there giving me that first drink. I made the choice to drink that one and much more. Does this kind of thinking seem familiar to anybody else? I think it probably does. People who do not know or even want to know God, choose to stay in darkness and are reaching for things like alcohol to numb themselves so they cannot feel anything. I only know because that is how I spent my entire adult life until I turned 44. Before God revealed Himself to me, all I knew how to get through life was to try to drink it away.
For some reason, I was supposed to remember the godless part of my life today. Perhaps it was so I could write this with the hope that God will use it to pierce someone’s heart. Maybe He’ll pierce someone’s heart who may be heading to rock bottom like He pierced mine IN my rock bottom. I do not think I will ever forget what life was like without God, nor do I want to forget. It feels good to say that now. For a while I would wonder, now that I have Him – forever — why do I need to remember? Aren’t we supposed to forget about the past? Well, I do not think so. We are not supposed to dwell on things of the past that we can’t change, but how can I share God’s amazing miracles in my life if I forget where I came from and what God has done for me? I can’t. I want to and need to remember my miracles from God. For me, remembering the miracles means remembering the past. But only because of my strong desire to share Him with the world. I don’t remember the shame to hold on to it, I remember it to tell the world how God took it away. He helped me to finally accept His forgiveness and he helped me to forgive myself. That took a while to happen, but it was another amazing breakthrough for me when that day came. I know without a doubt that God desires to do for everyone else what He has and continues to do for me. The problem is, many people who are in a bad place like I was do not want to make the tough choices that need to be made. For example, like giving up things such as friends. As someone who knew that I had to stay sober or eventually lose everything, even my life, I had to make the difficult decision of giving up time with friends who like to party and drink. Thankfully, God gave me the desire to know Him and gave me new godly friends to spend time with who to this day continue to keep me on the right path for my life. I choose to surround myself with godly people who keep me safe and do not put me in places where I might stumble. I am grateful for godly friends who have become a chosen family for me! I never worry about relapsing when I am with them. Actually, after being sober for 5 ½ years now, I do not worry about relapsing at all because God has strengthened me and as long as He is the center of my life, I have no need to numb myself with alcohol. Jesus is my Savior and my center and He is all I need.
I seem to get a lot of search engine “rock bottom” hits on this blog. I know some people are concerned for a friend or family member they are watching head to rock bottom. I feel their hearts searching for something to tell them how they can help. One of the questions I remember was something like: “Is it Christian to allow someone to hit rock bottom?” Another one wanted to know about Christians hitting rock bottom. I sense it was someone giving up on a friend or loved one or maybe even themselves. Well, all I can say is that Christian or not, NOBODY can prevent anyone from reaching rock bottom. A person can’t prevent it themselves, not on their own. Not without God. There is nothing that anyone can do. Only God can do that and I am not so sure that He will intervene before rock bottom. It depends and I will not pretend to know the answer that only God knows. All I do know is that it usually takes a very desperate person to finally surrender their entire life to Him. It is unfortunate that most of the time it takes rock bottom for that to happen, but it is the truth. So if you’re someone who is concerned for someone else, give yourself a break. Give up the burden that was never yours to take on. What you can do is love them and pray and leave the rest to God. Pray that God will intervene and make the person desperate enough to call out to Him before they lose everything. I think it is a possibility worth praying for. But you need to believe and leave it all up to God.
I think there are people that want someone to change, but they may need to be the one who changes first. This is just a thought from my heart that I feel is important to share. I hid my problem for many years. But when it started to get noticed, the last thing I wanted was advice from someone who was not walking the talk. If I am going to be there for someone and encourage to give up a vice and seek God instead, I better be walking that walk myself and it better show through my actions louder than my words. When we change ourselves and God’s light shines through, people in need get drawn in to Him. Be that person!
In my case, even though it took something like issues with my heart to wake me up to the choices I had been making and a new desire and desperation to change, I will be forever grateful for that wake-up call in the hospital. Even if it means that I need to take heart medication for the rest of my life. It was my rock bottom. We all can reach a different severity of rock bottom. Some could look like mine and others may lose EVERYTHING. No matter what though, once we get there, if we give our lives to God, miracles happen at rock bottom. It does not have to be the end of anything, except a destructive lifestyle. My rock bottom miracle was finding out that God is real and soon afterward I discovered my miracle sobriety! Grateful!
I chose death for too long but praise the Lord I now choose life! I choose God to be my one and only center. No more destructive living. No more wanting to be dead. No more living to please my own flesh by seeking worldly things that brought emptiness and led me on the pathway to hell. I live to please God now and I am grateful for His desires of my heart. I see so many others where I used to be and it breaks my heart because they do not have to stay there. If only more would finally surrender their entire life to Him. It has to be ALL because He is an all or nothing God. My ongoing prayer is that God will use my journey and those who have also fully surrendered to Him to be a Light for Him in every dark place we encounter. May He open our eyes to the mission fields where He places us so He can reveal Himself to others through us. May their hearts be softened and open and willing so they will be drawn to Him too. Time is running out. I am asking God to give more people the desire that He has given so many of us to know Him. I thank Him for rock bottom miracles. I thank Him for my greatest lessons learned in the midst of my greatest challenges. I thank Him for not delivering me from the trials, but for delivering me IN the trials where He continues to refine me. I know I would miss out on so many blessings if my life were easy. God catches every tear. He never lets us go. I thank God that He will do the same for anyone who seeks Him with their whole heart. I pray people will stop delaying and choose God — LIFE today.
My heart overflows with these words from a beautiful Christian worship song that I have been singing for days. It is my prayer for my own heart and every seeking heart who comes upon this story that was written just for you…”Holy Spirit You are welcome here. Come flood this place and fill the atmosphere. Your glory God is what our hearts long for — to be overcome by Your Presence, Lord.” Welcome Him in today, dear friend. You won’t regret it.
Oh God, overcome more hearts. May they turn to You, find You and discover Your power to change like I have. Thank You for saving me and so many others in so many ways…
Friend, today is the beginning of something great in your life, if you so choose…I pray you will!