EDITOR’S NOTE: Like Walter can testify, making decisions based on what the self desires always leads to destruction. Without Jesus, we look to fill our emptiness with the things of this world and it can leave us even more messed up than before. When Walter hit rock bottom, his only choice was to cry out to God once more and He answered.
On my own and vacant from the Lord, I become the enemy because I have no defense against sin. This makes my life aimless and its journey always leads to impossible predicaments. Using my willpower to dig myself out of the hole makes matters worse and leaves me in spiritual darkness.
There are consequences when I’m away from Christ. One of the most harmful is the destructive results that come when I use my will as the sole means of living. When I make life a self-centered experience, nothing good happens. Self-will always leads me to ruin and destroys everything in its path. Without God’s guidance, I am defenseless against anger, fear, and impulsive decisions. Life becomes unmanageable and spirals out of control.
Let me share with you an example from the past when I lived away from God.
In the summer of 1994, I met my ex-wife. She didn’t have a boyfriend. So, one day I asked her on a date and to my surprise she accepted. This elated me. We did the usual dating scene. Movies, candle light dinners and talking. Our time together helped us become friends. I proposed, she said yes, and we took the vow.
It was a challenge adjusting to each other’s likes and dislikes, but our love made it easy. We had great times together. One of the fondest a trip from Georgia to Moab, Utah. We drove our automobile to Arches National Park. Our two-week trip brought us to see many stunning natural settings displaying God’s incredible creativeness. We became awed at the incredible scenery God had allowed us to see.
A few years into the marriage, something changed (God wasn’t our focus). We developed serious trouble and drifted apart. Frequent arguments with no resolutions became normal. Marriage therapy, couple’s meetings, and date nights got nowhere. We couldn’t come together because God wasn’t part of our lives.
We tried to clean the slate, and this brought hope. Our future looked promising. I thought we moved past our indifferences. Boy was I wrong!
Then it happened. In the fall of 2003 someone knocked on the front door. I answered, and a sheriff deputy stood on the porch. He asked who I was and after my response; he handed me the divorce papers. When I signed for them, I understood the reality. My wife didn’t want me anymore. It devastated me.
Our marriage wasn’t perfect, but I gave her a fair and honest effort. I was faithful with no infidelity nor had I harmed her in a physical way. My love for her was strong. Now she didn’t want me around anymore.
After the shock, depression took center stage. I became engulfed in self-pity feeling sorry for myself. I’m not sure how long I stayed in the depressive mindset. But a shift in the emotional scale came, and another negative response to this life saga emerged. Anger raised its ugly head leading the way to a series of wrong choices.
At this point in my life, anger wasn’t a problem. I worked hard to change my bitter ways, and God had given me relief from its grip. Rage became non-existent. And several years had passed since I caused any physical harm or property damage.
Little by little this bitterness was eating me for lunch. My entire mind consumed with thoughts of plotting revenge. The resentment toward her erupted, spewing out hateful feelings.
The knot in my stomach became overbearing. Her repeated absence from court dates infuriated me. I’d had enough of her unresponsiveness and this brought me to the breaking point.
Instead of turning to God for relief from the pain, I took matters into my hands. This decision cost me favor with Him and brought me face to face with a darkness unlike any I had experienced.
I got drunk over this escapade and returned to active alcoholism. Eighteen years of sobriety tossed out. No matter how many bottles of booze I drank, the suffering never went away but worsened. Relentless emotional distress and sleepless nights kept me getting drunk. Every day it got darker and darker.
Alcohol always had its way with me. It took everything worthwhile away and turned me into an alcoholic. Even though it was unwise to drink again, I returned to its nightmare. Blackouts, wrecked vehicles and brushes with police came back with a vengeance.
Over the next eight years, there weren’t many sober days. Family and friends, distant themselves from me because my behavior was unpredictable. The pain I caused them from my drunkenness was too much, and they stopped inviting me over for holidays get together. That made me mad.
During this drunken period of my life, there was a particular incident causing concern from the family. It was on my mother’s 80th birthday. We arranged a surprise party her and every one of her children were in attendance. My mom gave birth to nine children, and two of my siblings traveled hundreds of miles.
I started out okay, but later became so drunk and violent I had to be restrained. Blacked-out from the alcohol unaware of my behavior caused alarm to my loved ones. My brothers and sisters each gave me a piece of their minds telling me how disgusted they were with my drinking problem. I was ashamed but unwilling to get sober.
Two years after this debacle, I faced homelessness. The sister I lived with had enough, and she gave me an ultimatum. Either I get sober and stay sober or be kicked out. With no extra money to secure another place to live that meant living on the streets.
Here God’s mysterious hand was at work because one day I prayed. It had been years since I prayed. A few weeks after asking for God’s help, I hit an alcohol bottom. On June 11, 2011 God showed mercy and delivered me from the evil of alcohol.
By the grace of God, I am sober today. And when I get dazed and confused, I know the precise actions to take. I no longer have to reach the point of self-destruction. My hope in Christ is permanent. Problems are temporary and an opportunity to draw closer to His strength. God has healed my mental, physical and spiritual being.
Today Christ is at the center of my attention. No matter how bleak life becomes, Christ is the answer. The security blanket He provides is second to none. As I grow more in the image of Christ through relying upon Him in good and troublesome times keeps the demons from my past at bay. I’m grateful God is the key to life for I know my life is at risk when I fail to include His guidance.