Did you ever call someone on the phone, thinking they weren’t home and expecting to get their answering machine instead? That’s how it was the first time I called God.
I was in treatment for chemical dependency. I had been there almost three months, and I still couldn’t stop using drugs. I didn’t know how. I was ingesting anything I could get my hands on, from an industrial-sized can of nutmeg (I’d heard you can hallucinate with it), to marijuana (not my drug of choice, but it did in a pinch), to the old-fashioned inhaler decongestants (they can be like cheap speed).
I was out of my mind. I had a serious prison sentence hanging over my head for possession of narcotics and some drugstore burglaries. A lot was riding on this treatment. And a dilemma had presented itself. An acquaintance from the streets had just entered the program. He had given me a handful of methamphetamine—my best score yet during treatment. But my probation officer was scheduled to visit me the following morning. I thought I’d just take a little.
I ended up staying up all night, bug-eyed and paranoid from the speed, wondering if I’d get caught. I made it through the visit with my probation officer the next day without attracting his attention. Even though I escaped getting detected by him, I couldn’t run from myself anymore.
After he left, I sat down on my bed. “God, I don’t know if you’re real or not,” I said. “But if you are, and there’s a program here that will help me stop using, please help me get it,” I said.
Two days later, I was sitting on the lawn smoking a joint. I took a hit, then laid back to stare at the clouds. In that moment, the sky seemed to turn purplish. I knew that I knew—that deepest kind of knowing—that God was real, and I had no right to keep using alcohol and other drugs anymore. “If I put just half as much energy into doing the right thing as I’ve put into doing the wrong thing, there isn’t anything I can’t do,” I thought. I took one more hit of the joint. Then I went into the treatment center building and threw myself into recovery with all my heart and soul.
Two days later, another acquaintance came through the treatment center. He had some good dope. Did I want some? “No thanks,” I said. “I don’t get high anymore.” I surprised my friend. I surprised myself even more.
I live in California, where celebrities can be seen often. People, including myself, will flock around celebrities, hoping to have just a few words with someone we consider powerful and important. It’s fun, but my life has never been improved by getting an autograph or meeting somebody famous. Talking to God has changed my life.
Value: Prayer is the value this week.