Sitting in traffic. “I am going to be late again!” Even though this time it was not my fault, I had messed up a couple of times before and I knew this was not going to be pretty. Looking out at the jammed-up traffic ahead of me, I banged my hands on the steering wheel and yelled, “Come on!” No one heard, no one cared. I was going to be late for my appointment with the IRS for the third time and was pretty sure, like baseball, three strikes and your out.
Over four months ago I was getting out of my car in front of my girlfriend’s house when two armed agents had accosted me. They had scared everyone when they appeared out of no where and sought to arrest me for tax evasion. More of my failed business and life in general catching up with me. I had been able to hold them off that day with promises to ‘stay around’ and bring my tax info in as soon as I could to their district office.
It had been over two years since my company had went in the tank and from what I could gather, our last quarterly tax assessment had not been paid. I tried to locate the guy who was responsible to get that done but no luck, he was not to be found. And the feds really didn’t care who’s was supposed to do what, my name was listed as president of the corporation and that meant I was holding the bag for nearly five grand in taxes and penalties of about half that. Problem was I didn’t have the money and they wanted it paid in full, yesterday.
Now as I sat in traffic, looking at my watch for the 100th time I knew if I got there late and still had nothing to offer, I could be wearing an orange jumpsuit before the night was over. Just when I thought I had my life turned around, I was right back in that black hole which sucked all the air out of everything, my past. And with nowhere to turn and no one to rely on I could feel every drop of hope run out. Heck with it I was screwed anyway, I might as well pull of the freeway and find a bar. Creeping toward the next exit I knew just the place.
I have heard it said, “When life deals you lemons, learn to make lemonade”. I was not good at that as an addict. My theme went more like, “Here today and gone tomorrow”. Literally, when life got too rough, or I messed things up, adios. Pack bags, hang out the “Gone Fishing” sign and disappear. I did it so many times that my own family had a hard time knowing where I was half the time. And for sure my son did not.
From one dive motel to another. I must have lived in fifty or more. Able to work but not able to live. And those times when I did surface because I so wanted to live a ‘normal’ life, something from my past would catch up and off I would go. My problem was I sought the wrong normal. The one based on the reality of this sinful world and it wasn’t until I learned a new reality, in fact the only real reality, that I could stop running and face the demons. The cool thing is in this reality you do not have to do it alone.
This reality is Jesus Christ and the kingdom of God. When I believed in Him my life changed. Oh man, I still had problems and they were hard to deal with. But I no longer wanted to run. I wanted to stand and know more about Him. I wanted the transforming power He promises, “And I am sure of this, that the one who began a good work in you will bring it to completion at the day of Jesus Christ.” (Philippians 1:6) I knew I wanted Him to complete the work in me that had been started when I believed.
I always add a caveat in my story when it comes to transformation, because I want everyone to know that it was not instantaneous. In fact, it was so slow I never saw it happening and it is still happening to this day. But it is, and it will be if I am willing to surrender. Because that is the coolest thing of it all. As an addict I tried to be strong using alcohol and drugs to bolster me, I ended up being weak and running. But when I surrender to Christ, when I daily take up my cross and follow Him, in that surrender I am made strong.
Crazy huh, according to this world it is for sure. But the Apostle Paul said this, “Let no one deceive himself. If anyone among you think you are wise by this world’s standards, you need to become a fool to be truly wise. For wisdom of this world is foolishness in God’s sight…” (1 Corinthians 3:19) When I gained my strength through the cross of Christ I no longer had to trust the wisdom of this world and I was finally ready to stand. The “Gone Fishing” sign is in the trash and now the “Open for Business” sign is up and so am I.
I messed up with the IRS that day and did not show up. But as is the case with that group, I could run but could not hide. Eventually I had to pay but once I did, I went underground again. Today I live above ground, standing with the Savior, until the day I take my last breath, or He comes again. If life has you down and you cannot see a way out. He has a plan for you and you can believe it is going to be good. Stand with me today. In weakness He makes us strong.