It was dark! Where was I? It took me several minutes for my mind to clear enough and recognize that I was in my car, but where was it parked? I squinted my eyes trying to filter any light that may be found. One thing was for sure it was very cold. My teeth chattered as I sought the keys. As I lifted my hand to search pain shot up my arm. What had happened? The pain seemed to jolt my mind into action. Memories or what I assumed were memories began to filter in.
A fight. Yes, there had been a brawl in that bar where I had been drinking. Getting off swing shift I had headed into Elma Washington for a few quick drinks before driving home to Olympia. How the fight started was still a blur but I soon remembered the pool table and a game of ‘8 ball’. Yeah, that was it. An argument over a final shot. Soon a swing of my pool cue, then blackness. But how did I get here and where was ‘here’ anyways?
I rolled my window down a bit, more pain but it didn’t seem like anything was broken. The air was brisk and damp, it seemed to clear my head more. I could see I was parked on the shoulder of a road. I searched again for my keys. Feeling around the passenger seat, ah, there they were. Starting the car, cold air blew out of the heater vent, sending another chill through me but soon heat and warmth.
I switched on the headlights and they lit up the road ahead of me. As I did this I saw flashing blue and red lights in my mirror. I thought, “This can’t be good.” And, of course, it wasn’t. It turned out that I had been in a bar fight and I had hit a man with a pool cue, in return I had gotten pretty beat up myself and thrown out of the bar. How I got to my car and ended up on a logging road off the highway, I will probably never know. But the man I had beaten had gone to the hospital and then to the cop shop to press charges, leading to those flashing lights behind my car and my arrest. Violence had once again led to pain and turmoil in my life and those around me.
I spent most of my addicted life angry. That anger showed up in so many ways. It was like a darkness that never was far from me ready to engulf and spread and hurt. The part that pains me most now is that I chose it. When you choose to live in darkness there can be no light. Jesus said it this way: “But anyone who walks in the night stumbles because there is not light within him.” (John 11:10)
Over the years I went through many programs either by choice or enforced. Yeah, doctors and shrinks; AA and rehab. None of it worked. Don’t get me wrong there are some great programs out there and they have helped lots of folks overcome addictions. But to me no program can totally heal unless it is based on the healer and finisher of all faith, Jesus Christ.
The reason I say this is that, yes, following the 12 step program of AA would have help me quit drinking, like it has for so many. But would it have gotten to the core of what was really wrong with my life? I don’t think so. It was not until I was able to turn away from the life of addictions and surrender all of it to Jesus that the anger, the violence left me. And folks that is called grace and because of it I came to believe what the apostle Peter tells us was true even for me: “But you are a chosen generation, a royal priesthood, a holy nation, a peculiar people, that you should show forth the praises of him who called you out of darkness into His marvelous light.” (1Peter 2:9) See, if I chose Him, He would let even a sinner like me become part of His royal priesthood, His holy nation. I could choose light.
And you know over the last eight years, without me knowing, I have been transformed. To a point now where I no longer want to walk where it is dark. I never have to experience again awakening in the cold darkness of my car, totally confused and lost, defeated. Because I now walk with the one who is …” the way, the truth and the life…” I like where I am going. It is sunny on this side of the street. All I can say is thank you, Lord!
Originally posted 5/22/17