Vomit, Dancing and a 4 a.m. Wakeup Call
Ever so often I ask a friend to write a guest blog to share with my readers. Here is a guest blog from a friend of mine named Samuel. He writes a blog which you can read at www.BrotherBarr.wordpress.com. Here is a little of Samuel's story and journey so far. I want to take you on a journey, hoping you will arrive at the same place of freedom I did. The journey isn’t pleasant, but it was what I needed to open my eyes and heart to my dire need for God and His saving grace. I wish I could say that it will be the last journey through darkness that I will ever take. Only God knows for sure. Nevertheless, I do know that going through the darkness with God is nowhere near as lonely and scary as it was going through it without Him. That was my life before I accepted Christ as my savior. It was definitely the loneliest and darkest time of my life.
This journey began 8 years after my salvation. I was living out the Proverbs 26:11 life once again, “As a dog returns to its vomit, so a fool repeats his foolishness.” Doing the very things I did not want to do. Can you relate? Paul could. Romans 7:19 ”For I do not do the good I want, but the evil I do not want is what I keep on doing.” I had recently returned from Georgia where I was a part of a ministry that helps people deal with hurts, habits and hang-ups. I was living a blessed, simple life of serving God and loving it. Unfortunately, I had already begun to backslide and reopen doors to the enemy. Hindsight always gives us 20/20 vision. If I had only drawn close to God and stayed authentically connected to healthy people, I could have saved myself, and my loved ones a lot of heartache and pain. Instead, I ran back to Florida.
I returned to Florida to care for my mother who was having some health issues. At least that is what it looked like to everyone else. I knew I was already running full steam away from God and His plan for my life. Reminds me of Jonah 1:3 “But Jonah rose to flee to Tarshish from the presence of the LORD. He went down to Joppa and found a ship going to Tarshish. So he paid the fare and went down into it, to go with them to Tarshish, away from the presence of the LORD.” My emphasis added. I have heard it put this way. When we choose to run from the Lord, the enemy will make sure we have transportation and it always cost us. My ship was my mom and the fare I paid was my peace and freedom. It wasn't long before I was dancing around the enemy's campfire, once again. Every demon that had been evicted returned with a vengeance, and brought buddies. Sound familiar? Luke 11:26 “Then it goes and brings seven other spirits more evil than itself, and they enter and dwell there. And the last state of that person is worse than the first.” Gratefully, it was only a year before God's mercy and grace brought me to repentance, yet again, but the damage was done: physical, financial, mental and spiritual damage as well. This was Spring of 2010.
Later that Spring my mom and I decided, for various reasons, to relocate from Tampa Bay to Ft. Myers. Most importantly were my brother and his family. They could offer some emotional support for my mother and I while I restarted the process of working on my issues. I also had a great church and recovery family, which I had established back in 2007 prior to moving to Georgia. There were so many blessings in moving to Ft. Myers, but it would be some time before I would begin to see them and accept them as God's grace and protection.
I was blind to the blessings for a few reasons. Some I was aware of while others were hidden and deeply rooted. One major reason was the hope that being Christian and gay was ok in God's eyes. The truth was that as long as I held on to this or anything that God had asked me to surrender, I wasn't giving God my whole heart. I wasn’t living by His word. God is always faithful to His Word, every part of it. I am called to be faithful to every part, as well, even the parts I don't understand or agree with. Despite my disobedience He was patient and continued to love me. That is what He does. Deep in my heart I knew that being Christian and gay was not part of God's plan for my life. Ever have that feeling about a particular sin yet still try to rationalize it away? Have you truly ever searched your heart, or asked God to? Psalm 139:23-24a “Search me O God, and know my heart. Try me and know my thoughts. And see if there be any grievous way in me.” If we are serious about living a life that is pleasing to God then we have to pray those exact words and mean it. I know I did.
God continued to speak to me regarding the junk I was holding on to. One night in 2010, before moving to Ft Myers, near the end of a relapse, we were visiting my brother. What you may not know about my relapses is that they involved addiction to Meth, a.k.a. the “devil’s drug”. Coming down from a relapse means restoring order to the chaos of my destructive behaviors: insomnia and a diet of water and candy. The restoration involves multiple hours of sleeping with brief moments of waking and eating. Then quickly returning to sleep. I needed my sleep. I loved my sleep. So I knew that it was God that woke me up at 4 a.m. one morning and spoke these words to me, “Sam, you make so much of your struggle. I am not concerned as much about your struggle as I am about you.” It was a simple, yet profound statement.
It would take another 4 years before I would grasp the totality of that statement. If I could only focus on God as much as I was focusing on my sin, then God could do what He promised and I could begin to walk in His freedom. I had become so blinded by pride that the lies I believed became truth for me. If I could have only gotten my eyes off myself, my sin and the world and fixed them back on Jesus, I could have taken hold of the promises in His word. The only thing that got my eyes off myself, was hitting rock bottom again and again. Have you hit your rock bottom yet?
In February 2014, I found myself hitting rock bottom a fourth time since relocating to Ft. Myers. It had been over a year since the last relapse. This time it was darker and deeper. I found myself living in my car, by my choice, eating peanut butter sandwiches and drinking ginger ale. I walked away from a successful career, friends and family that loved me, a great apartment and many blessings. It is still hard for me to believe how blinded by lies I had become. All God was asking me to do was trust and surrender to His plan for my life. Looking back now, He wasn't asking that much. Why I thought for a minute that my way was better or that the world had something better to offer is beyond me. What lies do you still believe? Do you believe that your way is better than God's? Or that the world has something better to offer?
Thankfully, today, I find myself learning to live wholly surrendered. Trusting Him fully is still a daily struggle, but I am learning to do so moment-by-moment, struggle-by-struggle. I am doing my best to seek God first. I ask Him daily to guide me, to search my heart and help me see things from His perspective. Not only do I know, with my head, but I also believe, with my heart, that God has a plan for my life. I confidently believe that God is taking the chaos of my struggles, pains and hurts and using my gifts and talents to create a beautiful symphony of purpose.
Are you ready to begin your journey of freedom?