The LORD’S lovingkindnesses indeed never cease,
For His compassions never fail.
They are new every morning;
Great is Your faithfulness. – Lamentations 3:22-23
I was raised Methodist as a young child, although I’m not sure that much of anything about that upbringing sunk in or stuck with me. I didn’t like church, didn’t want to be there, didn’t remember any of it, and then went for many years without darkening any church doorway. However, looking back now, I’m still very grateful that my mom “dragged” me to church.
I didn’t have any continued association with religion, faith, or church from those early years on up through college and beyond. In high school and college, I pursued science actively and loved math, physics, astronomy, and cosmology (the study of the universe and its origins amazed me), and I, therefore, attended university for physics (and graduated, yay!). But I eventually lost interest in cosmology, as I started to realize that science would never be able to answer with 100% certainty where the universe came from and how it all came about. It was just theory after theory after theory. Little did I know then, but I was actually right for coming to that realization, but for a very different reason. The reason is that science is not looking in the right area – the Bible has the answers, not man. Until science looks there, it will simply be one “theory” of man after another in an endless parade of futility and wild speculation.
I then married and continued living without any “religion” or God for about 13 years. I just did what the world did: got married, got a good job, worked hard, etc.…and I surely considered myself to be a “good person” and not “as bad as others.” I didn’t do drugs or steal (much) and was (generally) honest (I thought). I thought that religion and God and all that “spiritual” stuff was utter rubbish and nonsense. Having a scientific mind, I was all about logic and factual proofs based on evidence.
Then at about age 35, I got divorced; that was a difficult time for me. It was also at that time that I started drinking alcohol (I got a late start on it). Little did I know where that would lead. Then while I was driving home from work one day, suddenly, out of the blue, I felt a “desire” to turn into this church parking lot and get some information. I had no clue what the church was; it just happened to be on my way to and from work, and I had driven by it hundreds of times without even noticing it. Even looking back now on this incident, there is no other way to describe what happened other than to say it was simply a “hey, let’s turn in there” desire that came suddenly and without any prior warning. I certainly don’t take any credit for it.
So, after getting some information, I decided to attend church there a few times and “just see what it’s about” and “who knows, maybe I’ll meet a nice church girl” also. I came to understand and realize that there IS a God – and I also came to believe in Christ. I’m very thankful to Pastor Darryl DelHousaye for his ability to explain difficult topics that had prior caused me to stay far away from “religion.” After all, I was a scientist needing facts and proof, and all this “God” stuff was just made-up nonsense, or so I had thought.
I got a Bible, but I didn’t read it much except for a few Bible studies here and there that I went to occasionally. I do remember beginning to notice Scripture starting to reveal itself to me (I now know that was by the Spirit), but I didn’t follow through or keep at it, not at all. I was also baptized at the church, but it turns out (looking back), I never really turned my life over to the Lord!
In fact, it was after this point that I started working more than ever. I got remarried and just carried on with life as usual, as if nothing had happened, as if nothing had changed. I ended up working 15+ hrs./day, seven days/week for 10+ years straight. I didn’t realize it at the time, but I had become an alcoholic, although it wasn’t a problem at that time (and we are always the last to realize that fact anyway). No one told me either until many years later, but even if they had, I wouldn’t have believed them or listened to them.
Then came a move to a different city, and finally, the addiction took over, and things went downhill pretty quickly from that point. I sunk pretty low with depression, anxiety, another divorce, etc. Luckily for me, I never even once touched hard drugs, or it probably would have been all over for me. However, alcohol is more insidious and sneakier/silent, but it is nonetheless just as dangerous, destructive, and deadly in its end result.
So even after I had accepted Christ, I was thereafter almost immediately (within a year or so) prodigal, apostate and backsliding for about 13 years because I was also trapped in an addiction that I didn’t realize I had. It was also because I just continued living life as I had always lived it before…for another 15+ years actually! I drifted away from going to church, stopped reading the Bible, stopped thinking about God, or Jesus, or anything related to it all – I just focused on work, work, work, and earning money. Finally, things climaxed as I hit bottom.
I want to point out that those who are unsaved and who are also caught in an addiction don’t realize it, but they are actually doubly lost! First, they are lost to the addiction, and secondly, to God and eternal life. For even if you somehow manage to get out of the addiction by yourself (or the help of others, e.g., a “12-step” program), you will still “come short of” eternal life. But Christ solves both – He will save you from the addiction and He will also restore you to eternal life at the same time! How amazing is that!
Please note that I had, in fact, accepted Christ at one time in my life as I indicated, but I then went apostate. Yes, I had departed or “fell away” from the faith. It IS possible to fall away! The “once saved always saved” teaching you commonly hear taught and preached is completely false (as I’ve shown you in this book). I had been born again at one time as best I knew how. However, by not growing and maturing in my faith, by returning to my old ways of pursuing the things of this world, and through sheer neglect of seeking Christ daily, I fell away. I know now that I was what the Bible calls “thorny soil”: where the cares of this world choke Jesus out of your life. I also now know that I fell away also in large part due to not reading and really studying (desiring) the Word of God every single day. I now hope to be fertile soil, producing a crop 30-fold for the Lord.
If you are not living and working your Christian faith every single day and reading the Word of God every single day, you are placing yourself in great danger of falling away from Christ and back towards sin and the world. Do NOT underestimate the attraction and pull that this world exerts on you even after you are born again – for this mistake can be eternally deadly! This is why I have advised you repeatedly in this book to read the Bible every single day because when you are born again, your new spirit actually feeds on the Word of God, just as your body feeds on food. So, if you are not feeding your new spirit with the Word, you are literally starving it, as it is written: “Man shall not live on bread alone but on every word that proceeds out of the mouth of God” (Matthew 4:4).
In His unimaginable lovingkindness, patience, slowness to anger, and awesome mercy, Christ drew me back again. Yes, He called out to me again, and it was crystal clear to me! Imagine that! He chased after me in an attempt to draw me back, and I am forever thankful and grateful to Him for doing so. For I was indeed one of the lost sheep which had gone astray – I had left the fold, and He came after me to find me again. I need to emphasize that I can’t take credit for any of this, as I didn’t reach out to Him at all. It was He who came after to me (again)! I still don’t fully understand it. I had completely discarded Him even after being born again, as the world and addiction slowly dragged me back into its net of destruction. That’s how the world and Satan work. Again, I say, beware!
I’ve examined myself hard to see if I was really and truly born again at that prior time (15 years ago), and I have to say yes. At that time in my life, I confessed Jesus with all my heart, mind, and soul. I didn’t just pretend to confess Christ; it was completely genuine and real. Some will argue that I wasn’t truly born again, but why don’t we ask Jesus when we see Him, for only God knows a man’s heart.
I did learn this huge lesson, however, that unless you start to walk like a Christian (and bear fruit) and truly turn your life over to Him every single day as Lord, the world and sin will again seek you out and draw you back in and try to destroy you, for it is written: “Sin is crouching at the door; and its desire is for you” (Genesis 4:7). I’ve seen this verse play out in my own life. In fact, I now see that the Holy Bible and God and His Christ ARE truth. Nearly everything else, including this material world and all the ways and wisdom of man, are completely corrupt, lies, and are passing away – nothing of them will survive the great Day of Judgment. He is the only thing that stands solid through eternity.
I can’t stress enough that it wasn’t until I finally turned my life over to Christ and submitted to the will of God that things changed for me for the better – and they changed almost instantly the very day I did that (yes, that very day). The addiction was gone instantly, banished, never to return. I had believed in God and Jesus years prior, but I had never really submitted to Him. Also, no one had taught me how to walk as a Christian. That is another reason why I’m writing this book, so I can help others avoid doing what I did and making the same mistakes I made. Perhaps I can help others from falling away as I had. The steps are very simple: get on your knees at least twice daily (morning and evening), really turn your life over to and submit to God, pray constantly, read the Bible, love and serve God and love and serve others. If you do these things, Christ does the rest.
Since that one day a few years back, I’ve gone from being trapped in the throes of addiction and clutching a bottle to being sent nearly around the world twice doing photography (hopefully to glorify the Lord).I’ve gone from bondage under sin, Satan and death to the hope of eternal life in Christ. But the key is staying close to Jesus and seeking Him each day, no matter what! – RJA