Freed and Healed to Start Again
Hello everyone, This is an account of how I came to know God. My hope is that those reading this will realise it is very simple to be freed and healed of any problem in life.
At the age of ten, I started attending a private school, Dollar Academy, and about that same time I started questioning life. One day I realised there was a total conflict between what I had been taught at Sunday school about God’s six-day creation, and what I was being taught at school about evolutionary theory according to “the scientists”. I decided that scientists knew how things worked and that I should trust them, rather than believe in God!
When I was eleven I smoked my first cigarette because I wanted to be grown-up, and associated smoking with adulthood. At 12-years-old, I shocked my parents by “innocently” getting drunk on several glasses of red wine, drunk in quick succession at dinner on a family skiing holiday. By 14-years-old, alcohol and cigarettes had become my favourite social pastimes, and losing consciousness became a regular event when attending teenage parties. Hiding behind an “adult” mask, I tried to remove my fears of socialising with the opposite sex, and only exposed my own immaturity to all. I had started developing a habit that was to destroy the next decade of my life.
I had started developing a habit that was to destroy the next decade of my life.
As a youngster I had often been told that I was bright, and my results in school tests were always “straight A’s”. However, by the age of 15 I was in serious trouble as I had completely lost the routine of studying and fully developed the habit of escaping with “legal” drug abuse. I was addicted to tobacco, and any social event was incomplete without alcohol. It was all rooted in rebellion, and life seemed to be pointless and the prospect of going on to university to study and train for a profession in law or medicine, or anything at all, was only daunting and empty.
Two years later, in 1978, I left school with poor exam results and an overhanging sense of failure. Within weeks I came across hashish (cannabis resin) for the first time. I was attracted by the hallucinogenic qualities of the intense high, and I started experimenting with it as an alternative to alcohol. Very quickly it became my drug of choice. The underworld magically opened up to me, and associating with drug dealers for my cannabis supply brought me into contact with other illegal narcotics. Taking anything that came my way; I experimented with various uppers (amphetamines), downers (tranquillisers), trips (L.S.D. and “magic mushrooms”), opium, and cocaine. Thankfully my only contact with heroin was in the company of addicts injecting using needles, and my fear and dislike of needles was strong enough to protect me from joining them.
I continued in this way for the next ten years, with cannabis as my first love. I did notice my short-term memory getting confused, and my speech and handwriting getting sloppy, but was convinced that I did not have a drug problem. Throughout these years, I worked in various casual jobs and went to university to study psychology, looking for answers, but ending up being thrown out after two years of intense drug-use. My family and others even gave me much support, but throughout these years I followed the patterns established within my character during childhood and secondary school and found ways to escape from the responsibilities of the world into the dream-world of drug abuse. One day a friend asked me if I had ever heard of Jesus Christ. I thought he was very wasted on drugs and felt sorry for him, but in the days and weeks that followed I saw him occasionally and noticed a major change in him. He stopped all drug use, casual sex, and social benefit fraud (which were part of the lifestyle of most people I knew). He kept on talking about the Bible!
Suddenly I got caught up in a major (High) court case with the trial of a friend on numerous drug-related charges. The prosecution wanted to use me as a witness, and I faced the choices of telling the truth and sending my friend to prison for many years, or lying (which was against my heart and which I knew would get me into bigger trouble), or running away. True to past form, I scraped together funds and fled to Canada. The day before I left, I met my Christian friend “by chance” in the street. He gave me a leaflet to read, and wrote down JOHN 3:1-7 for me. As I made final preparations I bought a Bible and packed it away to read in the mountains of Quebec, where I was going to hide out for the winter. My aunt was willing to let me stay with her, on the proviso that I took on the role of cook and general help and did not smoke or use drugs (excluding the socially-accepted moderate use of alcohol at the end of a day)!
Upon arrival in Canada, I smoked my last cigarette and threw the rest of the pack into an incinerator. Living in remote countryside on the edge of a lake was idyllic and a wonderful opportunity to get cleaned up. Alone in my bedroom, I started looking into the Bible. Starting with the scriptures on the “Take Heed” leaflet my friend had given me, I was amazed to find Jesus making statements like
“Ye must be born again” (JOHN 3:7), and talking about being born of water and of the Spirit as being essential for being able to get into heaven (JOHN 3:5). I began to realise that there was much more to the Bible than the stories I had heard in Sunday school, and the church sermons I had heard about being a “good person”.
However, there was nobody around with answers to the questions that started arising within me. One scripture particularly troubled me: MARK 16:16 reads
“He that believeth and is baptised shall be saved; but he that believeth not shall be damned
“Ask, and it shall be given you; seek, and ye shall find; knock, and it shall be opened unto you…” (MATTHEW 7:7).
...God will see the truth in my heart...
One night I was thinking about my friend facing 7 years in prison, possibly to be reduced down to 2 or 3 years by plea-bargaining with the judge. I could not sleep out of concern for him, and then in desperation I prayed sincerely to Jesus, asking that he would not be sent to prison at all, but would get another chance at freedom, with a new job on the West Coast of Scotland, far away from the Edinburgh drug scene. A few days later I received a telephone call - my friend was on the line, excitedly telling me that he had been released from custody with a £700 fine and no prison term. Furthermore, he was about to start a new job on the West Coast as an apprentice dry-stone “dyker”, building traditional stone walls without mortar, with guaranteed work teaching others when he finished his first year. I wept silently with relief and joy, and above all with the knowledge that Christ had heard and answered my prayer!
I decided to get baptised by full immersion when I returned to Scotland the following spring, but in reality, I was still putting other things in my life before God. This was evident from my actions when I did return to Edinburgh the following year. If I had really decided to turn to God at that point I would have gone home immediately, but I was yet to repent and decide to fully surrender my life to God.
Living a “clean” life – eating good food, working outside in the fresh air of the Canadian countryside, and above all not smoking or using narcotics – naturally started cleaning out my body. I was surprised to start suffering withdrawals from the so-called “soft” drugs, but my thoughts were filled with cravings and desires for cannabis and I found it very difficult to relax and have normal conversations with anyone as my mind was often racing. On a couple of occasions when driving to or from the local supermarket I had to pull over and stop the car because of “flash-backs” and hallucinations. In February 1988, I went down to Montreal for a week to meet relatives and see the city. Within days I had met new “friends” who gave me a small supply of hashish, and for the next month or so I lived a very unpleasant and guilty double-life at home in the countryside with occasional secret “highs”. Although I now detested smoking, cannabis still had a hold on me. A short letter arrived from my Christian friend in Scotland, saying that he was still following God, and was praying for me. I felt very uncomfortable, knowing that I was still not right with God, and on my way to an eternal hell.
In May 1988, after 7 months in the best “retreat” anyone could imagine, and a second visa expiry, I was obliged to use my return flight ticket to Scotland. It was great to be home with my family again, and to be with my friends although I had a deep underlying sense of unease. All my friends were drug-abusers and without exception they were all thin, pale, and looked very unhealthy, whereas the “lumberjack” in the mirror reflected my time in Canada. Still compromising with cannabis, I decided to “party” for a week with hashish I had picked up between connecting flights in Amsterdam, before settling down to follow up with a long term series of business plans I had in mind with the goal of self-employment in catering. Of course, the drugs were finished within days, and new supplies bought locally lasted into the second week, but by then I just did not want to stop. Together with friends I rented a basement apartment that quickly became a drug-den. I started using my small savings (which had been set-aside to finance my business plans), to maintain my cannabis supply and spent the summer months wasting everything.
Finally, one day in late August, I was lying on the living room floor, stoned on hash, and considering my ways. I knew I needed help - my life was slipping through my fingers like sand and continuing as I was could only lead to more trouble. I needed help, but who could help me? I finally accepted and recognised that I had a psychological dependency / addiction to drugs, and was now using whatever happened to be available. No doctor could help. My family loved me, but did not have answers, and all my friends were in the same situation. Suddenly I remembered my Christian friend Billy. He had been in the same state I was in, and was now free and happy! I literally ran to the phone to call him. Unknown to me, at that moment he was in a prayer meeting at a church convention in the Austrian Alps, and was praying for me! Later, when comparing notes, he told me that right at the moment I was calling him, he received a powerful assurance from God that his prayer for me was heard and would be answered! Meanwhile, back in Edinburgh, I was leaving a message on his telephone answering machine, asking him to get in contact.
When Billy got back to me I told him I needed to meet and talk with him. He told me how to get to a Christian meeting at someone’s apartment in the city, and said we could talk there. I went, taking a friend for protection in case there was some kind of cult set-up! Part of me did not want to face this, and yet I knew I would always regret it if I backed out. Upon arrival I drove around the block three times as an inner battle raged. Finally, I parked and we went in. We found about 12 adults and 3 children in a very normal, friendly, family-type gathering. When the meeting started it reminded me of the Sunday school I had attended as a child, with choruses and hymns accompanied by a flute and a guitar. People talked about God’s influence and help in their lives, and of answers to prayer. It was all so normal that I wondered what I was doing there. I had been expecting some kind of powerful event that would sort out my problems and I felt disappointed! I decided to wait until the end before leaving politely. Then there was a time for prayer. Billy took me and the other guests to another room to show us Scriptures from the Bible. I walked over to a window to look out and thought, “Oh well, there’s nothing for me here, what next?”
Then I heard people in the next room starting to pray, and something happened to me. Numerous memories of key incidents or experiences in my life, where I had considered God’s existence, or experienced evidence of His reality with direct answers to prayer, flooded into my mind, and suddenly I realised and knew that Jesus Christ was the truth! He lived, died, was resurrected, ascended into heaven and is the Son of God. I was shocked. Then I was suddenly aware of my own personal freedom. For the first time in my life I realised that I was truly free and responsible for myself! I did not have to strive to please my friends or my parents, nor did I even have to take drugs! I was truly free to live my life as I wished! Then I remembered that Jesus talked about Judgment Day, and I knew that when I died I would have to stand alone before God, and give an account of my life. Knowing that I would be helpless, and simply out of a respectful fear of God, I decided right then that I would start to follow Him, and live according to His Word, the Bible. I realised that I did not really know what it would involve, but whatever the cost, it would be worth it. I could trust God.
I asked many questions and the answers given were always from the Bible – it was clear that I could not go forward until I fulfilled the first basic steps clearly detailed in ACTS 2:38. After the next meeting I asked the Assembly Group Leader to baptise me. We drove to the Royal Commonwealth Swimming Pool in Edinburgh where I was baptised amidst the swimmers there. That night I received the Holy Spirit, and was filled with the love, joy and peace of Christ inside me.
From the moment of my baptism, I was completely healed and freed from a long-term addiction to drug-abuse – both the psychological cravings, and the simple desire to change my state of mind and get high were totally gone. It was as if I had never taken drugs of any kind! I was truly born again (JOHN 3:7), freed from my sins, and healed from what I had done to myself to start my life again, but now with Almighty God in my life!
It was as if I had never taken drugs of any kind.
Now married, with two wonderful children, I am living in St. Petersburg, Russia, and helping to support the Christian work here. God is alive and everything is possible with Him. If we humble ourselves and follow Him, He will provide all our needs (MATTHEW 6:33). God has a perfect path through life prepared for every one who will turn to Him. He is a GOOD God! His way for us is not some sweet bed of roses – rather it is a life of action with many character-reforming tests and trials. It is the narrow way
“which leadeth unto life” (MATTHEW 7:14), and not the broad, easy highway which leads to hell.
Ultimately we all choose our own final, eternal destination by our decisions here on earth. Either we obey and accept salvation through the sacrifice made by Jesus Christ, or we refuse and will be lost forever in eternal hell. We are free to choose.
Love in Christ, Chris