Forgiven, Not Forgotten

 
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At the age of 16, I was playing an excellent game of tennis, doing well at school and enjoying a good relationship with my parents. A bottle of vodka changed all that.

One night with a school friend, I purchased a bottle of vodka. It wasn’t long before I was an alcoholic but I didn’t care. I enjoyed the lifestyle, which soon included taking drugs with my friends. Within two months, I’d given up tennis because I was always too drunk or hungover to play. My relationship with my family deteriorated.

I dropped out of school and became violent. But strangely, I never realised what was happening. I just wanted to party. My health deteriorated.

This I could see but the partying and drinking seemed more important.

Working in a nightclub as a DJ opened a door to rampant sexual activity.

But every morning when I awoke from another encounter, I felt unclean and empty. I yearned to be committed to just one person who loved me.

Despite this, I went to work in a strip club, managing the girls.

My drinking problem worsened.

I was boozing seven nights a week.

My memory was getting bad and I was becoming extremely violent. One morning a man approached me, asking the time. For no reason, I hit him. I was arrested over this incident.

Soon after being released, I was back at my old lifestyle, this time hyped on amphetamines (speed). I would drink continuously for two or three days, going without sleep or food. All that kept me going was the drugs.

One evening I went out with a couple of friends. In the early hours of the morning, we sat drinking in a cafe. I left for five minutes, and by the time I returned, one of my friends had been shot in the back of the head. He died later that morning. Something like that really makes you wonder about life.

Death is always near and will come to each of us, sooner or later. But what happens then? I asked myself.

Next I saw my friends begin to turn on each other, even to stabbing and shooting each other. It was like something from a violent movie. This is absolutely ridiculous, I told myself. And I began to see the destructive reality of my lifestyle, especially after a friend of some 12 years was shot and killed.

Then, after drinking heavily and taking amphetamines, my right hand suddenly went numb. The numbness rose up my arm, then spread to my whole right side, until I couldn’t talk properly.

I was taken to a hospital, where, in the midst of the commotion, I silently repeated to myself, Please, God, help me.

This incident frightened me into stopping my drinking and drugging, but then I slipped into depression. I thought I was just suffering from withdrawal and expected it to pass, but after about eight months, I was more empty and depressed than ever.

I began to wonder, What is life all about? Is death the end? Why am I here? I was hurting, lonely, empty and without a purpose in life. From the void in my heart, I knew something was missing.

One morning, I fell on my knees next to my bed and began to pray earnestly for the first time in my life: Dear God, please help me, I pled. I need Your help. I’m so unhappy and depressed; please, God, help me.

Shortly after that, I heard about a Christian neighbour. I’d never spoken to him before, but I wanted to know what God could do for me. My neighbour told me how God would forgive my past. This was a great discovery to me. I didn’t think I was good enough to be loved and accepted by God. I was excited to learn that heaven is real and that Jesus could set me free from my sins and terrible way of life. All I had to do was reach out for forgiveness and accept it when it came. I was amazed to discover that there was no way I could work my way to heaven. Jesus, through His death, had already saved me. I invited Jesus into my heart.

Having asked Jesus to be a part of my life, I then went home, where I sat, staring at the wall. “Wow!” was all I could say. I had goose bumps all over.

Something wonderful had just happened.

The pain and loneliness were gone. In that instant of confession and surrender to Jesus, I was cleansed of my desires for cigarettes, alcohol and drugs.

In their place was a flood of love, joy, peace and hope.

It’s been a long journey, but these days, instead of starting my day out blindly, I start with a prayer. I ask God for wisdom, strength, courage and guidance for the day. And I ask myself how I ever lived without Him.

I would never have believed that such a dramatic change could occur to me.

Today, I have total assurance in my Savior’s love, in His forgiveness, and that I have a place reserved in heaven. I place my trust in Jesus and stay focused on Him. When I turned my focus away from myself and looked to Jesus, things changed for me. It’s something that anyone can do.

I know Jesus is coming soon to take all those who love Him, including me, to be with Him in heaven. It’s something you, too, can share in.

Jesus knows all our faults, yet He loves us and forgives us anyway. We just need to sense our total need of His help—and ask for it and He will respond.