How I Found Peace with God
I was driving down a rural highway in north central Wisconsin that Autumn night, thoughts running wildly through my mind. “Why wasn’t I dead?” I thought unbelievingly. I had fully intended to overdose on drugs and end my life just hours before. But after swallowing some one hundred assorted pills that I thought were pretty potent, I woke up surprised not only to find myself alive, but my head clear also. Didn’t even catch a buzz!
As a senior in high school, I was hanging around with the wrong crowd, and heavily into the drug culture. My parents being divorced when I was young, I had tried living with both sets of parents and couldn’t get along with either one. I didn’t strike it off too well with girls either, so with one failed relationship after another, I had decided that death was preferable to life, thinking that somehow it would be a gateway to a better life.
But now I was confused, off balance. Overdosing on drugs seemed like the easiest most painless way of ending my life, and when I decided to finally go through with it, there was no turning back. The thought never occurred to me that I would not succeed. So there I was back in my car driving down a rural highway pondering what to do next. I remembered a junior high teacher once reading an article to our class about a guy who killed himself instantly by driving his car 55 mph into a telephone pole. That was it! It would be instantaneous; painless.
There was one problem, however. As I drove down this unfamiliar rural road somewhere north of Appleton (about 2 hours north of my home in Milwaukee), there were drainage ditches between the edge of the road and where the telephone poles were. I feared my car would never make it over the ditch.
Finally the road led through a small country town consisting of not much more than a bar and grocery store. But it was lit up with a few light poles on the gravel shoulder of the main highway. This was it. I backed the car up several hundred yards, and then floored it, racing towards one of the light poles. A glance at the speedometer read 85 mph just before impact. And then total darkness for maybe 10-15 seconds.
The sound of my car horn blaring woke me up again. Again I had failed. With nothing better to do, I decided to try and crawl out of the wreckage. The car was now upside down, but my driver-side window was missing, so I began to climb out. The people who were in the bar across the street rushed over and helped me the rest of the way out. One guy exclaimed to his buddies, “Wow! Check it out! He knocked down the light pole!” It was probably the most excitement that little town had seen in years. They called an ambulance and took me to a nearby hospital.
At the hospital they did some routine checks on me, but other than a few bruises, I had driven my car into a light pole 85 mph and walked away from it. The police were able to contact my father through my licenses plates. I was kept in the hospital overnight for observations, mostly out of concern for the drugs I had taken.
So I laid there in the hospital bed staring at the ceiling and wondering why I was alive. The thought had never occurred to me that I would not succeed in ending my life. Then it hit me. I did not have control over my own life. God did. It was not mine to take. This was not some tremendous revelation or anything like that, it was just something I had learned that day through practical experience. And it gave me comfort. I felt as if God was saying to me: “I have a purpose for your life, just wait.” From that night on I never again had the desire to take my own life.
The next day confirmed my suspicions that God had been in control the whole time. First the sheriff’s report from the “accident” came in. I learned that my car had gone right through the light pole shearing it out of the ground, and then continued up the road, veered off into a drainage ditch, hit a culvert that went underneath a driveway which upended the car and flipped it over three times finally coming to rest upside down. Wow! And I walked away from that! But wait, it gets better.
My dad says to me, “Let’s go to the crash site on the way home.” Ok I thought, why not? As we drive down the rural highway heading north out of Appleton, we come to the small town where I crashed the car. The name of the town: Freedom. We drive over to the place where the car finally came to rest: right in front of a big country church. As I look at that church and reflect on God’s control over my life, my Dad says to me: “Hey, look at the name of that bar across the street.” I turn around and look at it: The Crash Inn. My dad chuckles, and I feel like I’m in the twilight zone or something.
It’s time to drive back to Milwaukee, but we decide to stop at the junk yard where they hauled my car. We ask the guy where the Torino is that they brought in this morning. The guy takes us to the car. He looks at the car, looks at me, and then asks, “Were you driving that car??” I nod in affirmant. The guy shakes his head in disbelief. “You see that car over there?” he says, pointing to a large wrecked car, “It’s not half as smashed up as yours, but the guy driving that car didn’t make it.”
We walk over to what used to be my car. Totally demolished. The engine was pushed off its block, and half of it was in the passenger side front seat. The car basically crumpled when it took out the light pole. The guy said he couldn’t even tow it, because the wheels and axles were bent. He had to use a flat-bed truck and lift it up there with a crane. After hauling it to the junk yard, he had to return a second time to pick up all the pieces. But the driver seat was still in tact. It was almost as if a protective bubble had been placed around it. I left there feeling like my life was worth something to God, and that he had me on this earth for some reason.
Going back to school, my whole outlook on life changed. I now had hope, believing that God had some purpose for my life. I had been brought up in church, and had been taught the Bible and the creeds of my Protestant denomination, but my faith was very “creedal” also: it didn’t have much of an impact on my day to day life. So I went back to my old friends and my partying way of life.
But my attitude in school changed. I was enrolled in a specialty program in my senior year of high school majoring in business and marketing. With my new found self confidence, I excelled in the program, especially in demonstrating sales abilities. I won some awards in some city and state wide competitions, and purposed to graduate from high school and make a lot of money in sales. After graduating from high school, I quickly got certified and began to sell accident and health insurance door-to-door. I was doing great, and even sold a policy my first day on the field. But there was something missing, and I often felt guilty having “conned” someone to buy a policy that they probably didn’t need and wasn’t quite what they expected it to be.
So I got a job in a factory working a graveyard shift from 6:00 p.m. to 6:00 a.m. three days on and three days off. It was a good hourly rate, and a lot of my buddies from high school were working there. It was boring work, and we all “got high” to help us make it through the long shifts. But I always saw it as temporary work, until I found a good sales job that I really liked. It allowed me some financial freedom, and I was able to rent a condominium with another friend. I was also able to buy a nice sports car. Life was great in many ways, I could now party as much as I wanted. But I was still empty and unsatisfied with my life. I knew there had to be more, and I just thought that if I could get a good job with the potential to advance in a career, then I would be happy.
After about a year out of high school and having worked at the factory for several months, I decided to get back into sales. This time I got a job selling educational books. It seemed like a more “worthy” product to be selling. But something inside of me said that I would not be happy doing this either if I didn’t have God’s blessing. So facing discouragement again, and having no where to go but forward, because I had already tried running away from my problems, and I had already tried exiting life and God wouldn’t let me, I decided to try not getting high for a few days and just read the Bible, to try and understand what God’s will was for my life.
This was July of 1979, and at that point I had been getting high on drugs by smoking marijuana every day for almost 4 years straight. As I read the Bible, and I don’t even remember what exactly I was reading, I became acutely aware of my sins. I had always considered myself a Christian, and a good person. Even though I got high on drugs, I was no junkie. I mainly just smoked marijuana, and I rationalized my behavior as being no different than the casual social drinker of alcohol. It was just that one was legal and the other wasn’t. But I thought the laws were wrong, not me.
But now two major sins in my life were staring me right in the face: one was my drug usage, and the other one was planning my life without considering what God wanted me to do with my life. Without even really understanding what the word “repentance” means, I saw myself in a different light, and knew that my sins were keeping me from knowing God’s will. I immediately confessed my sins to God, and told him that I was not going to make any more decisions about my life until He told me what He wanted me to do.
What happened next is truly the miracle in my life, and words cannot come close to describing the inner transformation that occurred in me that summer day in 1979. First of all, a joy and peace flooded my being, such that I had never known could even exist in this life. It was the ultimate high, and it was from the Holy Spirit. It was so wonderful, that I took all my paraphernalia that I used to smoke pot and threw it into the dumpster outside our building. What I had found was so much better than drugs, that I never had a desire to get high on drugs again. I had finally walked out of the darkness and into the light. Jesus was the light, and I was now viewing things in the world in a completely new light. “I am the light of the world. Whoever follows me will have the light of life and will never walk in darkness.” Jesus, John 8:12
Secondly, the words in the Bible now came alive. It was as if God was speaking directly to me through them, and indeed He was. The facts I had studied for years as a kid growing up in church now became part of a vibrant relationship with the living God, and with the Savior of the world Jesus Christ. Having never doubted the facts of Jesus life, death, and resurrection, they now came alive with fresh meaning. I read the entire New Testament in about two weeks: I just couldn’t get enough of it. When I read verses like Romans 5:7-8 “Very rarely will anyone die for a righteous man, though for a good man someone might possibly dare to die. But God demonstrates His own love for us in this: while we were still sinners, Christ died for us,” I would just fall down and weep over the incredible love God was showing me through Christ.
I now knew beyond a shadow of a doubt that God had saved me, not just from a suicide attempt, but He had truly saved me from my sins, and that I was now going to be with Him in eternity: “Never will I leave you; never will I forsake you.” Hebrews 13:5
Since I had dedicated my life to God, I decided to go back to school and study the Bible. I studied the Bible for a number of years, and then served in full-time ministries in various parts of the world. But I have also learned that one does not have to be professional Christian minister to be serving God. You can serve God as a minister wherever you are in many different ways. Today my business is providing healthy food, and I seek to serve God in that task to the best of my ability. The Bible says, and modern studies even confirm, that a “joyful heart is good medicine.” The Bible has much to say about good health, and most of it is not related to our physical bodies. Our spiritual and emotional state has more to do with our health than our modern rationalistic society and medical system would care to admit. So if you are seeking better health, don’t just look at your physical symptoms. Look to the Great Physician, and healer of your soul, and give your heart to Christ for true peace with God. Then you will discover true health and life! Any health product, medicine, or natural cures are worthless if you don’t know God and His incredible love for you, and understand His will for your life. They only deal with your physical body, and not your spiritual need to be at peace with God. The best part is that His offer of eternal life is free for you, because he already paid the price of your sins through the blood of his Son. Discover God’s incredible love for you today! He created you as a special person, to know His love for you and to have you share His love with others. I pray for you reading this right now, “that Christ may dwell in your hearts through faith–that you, being rooted and grounded in love, may have strength to comprehend with all the saints what is the breadth and length and height and depth, and to know the love of Christ that surpasses knowledge, that you may be filled with all the fullness of God.” Ephesians 3:17-19
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