There was a time in my life when nothing mattered; when my whole being revolved around the world and what it could offer to me. Drugs and booze were my two mainstays; getting high was all I really cared about. I had no thought for my friends, my neighbors, or anyone around me. Just me, my ambitions, and my selfishness.
Notice the words above. A lot of that “me” and “my” stuff; that was ALL my life was, and this did nothing but send me into a destructive downward spiral for many years. On the outside, I appeared to have everything and was wildly successful at my job; but on the inside, there was a constant spiritual struggle that ultimately would turn my world upside down.
This kind of lifestyle can happen to anyone, at anytime, and anywhere. Society as a whole is an equal opportunity destroyer; we are “programmed” by the mainstream media to “do what feels good” and to “throw caution to the wind.” Pleasing ourselves is what we are taught …and it is for naught.
A person might say, “But hey! It feels good and it’s not gonna hurt me. A lot of other people do it and they’re fine!” And the answer is this: Yes, it won’t hurt you in the short term, but in the overall picture, it can cost you that happiness and peace and joy in your heart that you seek. And, it can cost you eternity.
Because, you see, I was one of those people at one time in my life; and, contrary to what I believed then, I did deeply hurt a lot of people. Family; friends; those around me….the same people who were mentioned in the opening paragraph. I was too blinded to see the truth…and it was that Truth that finally set me free 16 years ago.
This account isn’t designed to be “preachy” or condemning in nature to anyone; it is merely a true story of how God can change a person, no matter the circumstances.
May 5, 1989 is the date that will always be etched into the fabric of my life; when for twenty or thirty seconds time literally stopped for me in the form of a head-on collision in Statesboro, GA. The Ford F-250 work truck that I was traveling in was demolished by a drunken driver who fell asleep at the wheel (and died instantly), and I wound up in a nearby trauma center in critical condition. Crushed left ankle, broken back, brain swelling, crushed nose, uncontrollable internal bleeding…the list seemed endless, and I was not given much of a chance.
My family was called; the doctors consulted for what seemed like an endless span of time; and I was scared. Scared beyond belief; terrified that I was going to die; saddened by the fact that I was never going to accomplish all those things I had dreamed about…yet, through all these grave thoughts, I felt a peace coming on me. A peace I had never before known in my life; a peace that was seemingly audible, whispering to me, “Richard, trust Me. You’ll be fine.”
I remember crying out, “I’m sorry, God. Please forgive me; I need You. I don’t know who You are, but I need You.” And then I blacked out.
Before you jump to conclusions: no, I didn’t have a vision of Heaven or a long tunnel filled with white light, and my life didn’t flash before my eyes. None of those things you hear about from near-death experiences happened. All I felt was an assuredness that I would be fine; an intimate knowledge that I would be taken care of no matter what; and I was.
I woke up with no more internal bleeding; my brain no longer swelling; and stable enough for the ER doctors to operate on me. The Christian doctors who were working on me called my recovery a “miracle from God.” Not my words; THEIR words. I was stunned, but grateful. And I felt an indescribable joy in my heart that I had never had before.
The road back to physical recovery was long and painful, however. Five surgeries, facial plastic surgery (I took the steering wheel head first—no airbags were required as standard equipment back then); and many grueling months of therapy later, I was able to walk once more and return to my “normal” life; yet I somehow knew that my life would NEVER be normal again.
The Lord touched me that day in more ways than I could ever express in the written or spoken word; as I sit here recalling those events, tears of joy and gladness flood my eyes. My wife Jeannie asks me what’s wrong; all I can say is that it is hard sometimes to imagine just how good God was, and still is, to me. Even when I was thinking of nothing but myself, and what I wanted for all those years…He was always thinking about me and loved me enough to reach down and show me that love. And save me. In more ways than one.
For, you see, it was on that sunny, cloudless May day in 1989 that I accepted Jesus Christ as my Lord and Savior; from that day on, I have never been the same. The drug and alcohol addiction that had demonized my life for so many years was gone. Completely. I no longer felt the craving or the yearning to get high. Sure, there have been many other trials and tribulations that have come my way; it hasn’t been all smooth sailing. But, through much prayer, meditation, and faith, the last 16 years have been wonderful to live. Life seems so much more precious now; I feel reborn because I AM reborn…in Him.
During this time of the year as we celebrate Easter, and the wonderful news of the Risen Christ, I hope and pray that you and your family take the time to stop and experience life. Really experience it. Go to the park and play on the swings and slides with your children; have a long talk with your parents and smile as they regale you with stories about the good ol’ days; kiss your spouse and tell them you thank God that He gave them to you; tuck your kids in at night and whisper in their impressionable ears, “I love you.”
Most of all, as you celebrate amidst the milk chocolate bunnies, colored eggs, and numerous egg hunts…take the time to sit down, and share the TRUE story of Easter with your children. And that story is all about Jesus.
Give thanks to Him with a grateful heart for all He has given you, and done for you in your life. We often fail to recognize the little…and also big things He blesses us with. And those unanswered prayers that we pray with selfish, instead of selfless, hearts.
Every day that I live, I thank Him. Because now I truly have life…both here, and for eternity.
Thanks so very much, God.
Richard Davis is a resident of Marceline and serves as Vice-President of the Marceline Area Chamber of Commerce. His column appears monthly in the Linn County Leader.