Radically Changed

“Awe, what the heck.” The words came to my ears as though weighted with lead. My roommate and I had been invited to our druggie friends’ room only to be confronted with a sight that stunned us. One of our friends was holding out his tourniquet–wrapped arm as the other was about to inject something with a hypodermic needle. Our mouths dropped; our faces filled with shock. We had done so many drugs—marijuana, hashish, mescaline, psilocybin, LSD—but up until now, “hard drugs” had been off limits. I was stunned by the sight and even more by my roommate’s words, “Aw, what the heck.” Clearly he had decided what he would do. “What was I to say? Should I go along with these friends that I cared about and respected, or should I refuse as I knew I ought to? The answer was not so easy. Years and even months earlier, using hard drugs would have been unthinkable. But after thousands of little decisions, each compromising my former convictions, this once-gigantic decision didn’t seem all that big any more. “Why not? We’ve gone so far already. It’s only a little step farther.

How did an Iowa farm boy—raised in a loving family, with ten years of perfect attendance in Sunday School, a model student—how did I get here, confronted by such an enormous decision? The answer is not simple. There was the rise of situational ethics, the sexual revolution, the influences of the flower generation, the message in the music I loved and constantly listened to, the desire for friends—just for a place to belong, the desire for the love of a woman but without the commitments of marriage. But the biggest pull came not from influences around me but from the defect in my own heart. I wanted to be in charge of my own life, at least for a little while—to do what I wanted to do without the constraints and rules of God. I didn’t want God in my life and told Him to get out of my life. (I really did, and instantly the conviction I was feeling ceased). I thought I didn’t need Him—I would do things my way along with the other free spirits around me. Maybe someday I would come back to God, but I wanted to have some fun first.

What choice did I make in the dorm room that day? Actually, I’ll never know, for after seeing our stunned faces and hearing my roommate’s capitulation, they put down the syringe and started laughing hysterically. It had all been a ruse. But my flight from God was not a ruse and it went on. More pot smoking, alcohol binging, girl chasing, and then the drug I liked the most—amphetamines—what we called “speed.”

But in the midst of doing what I wanted to do, it became apparent that something was amiss—not the least of which was that my grades plummeted, I got pyorrhea of the mouth from pot smoking, and I came down with mononucleosis—either from a lack of sleep from speed or the way the disease got the nickname of, “kissing disease,” or both. But even worse than these consequences was the sense of purposelessness that I began to feel. If there was no God, if nature was all that existed, and if we are only a chance collection of random molecules, why are we here? What is the purpose of life? Who am I and why do I or any of us have any value anyway?

So, while recuperating at home, I decided to seriously read the New Testament for the first time as an adult. Maybe I should at least check out God for myself. What I found both surprised and excited me. Jesus was a much different figure than what I remembered from the Sunday School stories. Reading the pages of the gospels, I discovered a revolutionary; an anti-establishment figure, so full of strength and courage and yet so amazingly gentle and full of love. He seemed to have what both the older, materialistic, establishment generation and what our young, purposeless, free-love generation needed. Thoroughly intrigued by Jesus, I returned to school and began to attend Bible studies. And at one such study, I met some people who were different from anyone I had ever met. They were but, you know, my brain really needed a good scrub. I’ve been and am being transformed from the inside out, to live from joy and enthusiasm and purpose and to live forever with the Risen King.

If you would like to know more of my story or how Jesus can change your life, contact me at dave@stonebrook.org.


One response to “Radically Changed”

  1. Miekell Cottonwood Avatar
    Miekell Cottonwood

    Thank you for sharing this story, I found it empowering to hear how the dissatisfaction and emptiness of the behaviors you describe, led you to experience Jesus in a completely new way. Like a lost child, the experience of leaving and returning changes your perspective forever. A wound that enables a opening to profound relationship. It is hard to cast judgement on how we have composed our journey, without feeling moments of regret. Questions as to, “why did I choose this path over that?” In this story I am struck with a profound thankfulness for all those who help us along the way, who watch out for us when we are traveling through our heart of darkness moments, and to welcome us home safely to the other shore. I am so greatful that you have walked your path with humility, and left a legacy for us to fallow. Thank you. -Miekell

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