A little background
I am the middle child as I have an older brother and a younger sister. The farthest back I can remember is the first grade when my parents decided to get a divorce. This was a tough time for our family as I am sure it is for most families that go through divorce. My mother had full custody of us and we went to my father’s house every other weekend. My Dad committed his life to Jesus Christ and has been faithfully exploring the Word of God and attending his church ever since. My mother, however, married a man who was involved in the underworld. So growing up I became a fan of my stepdad. Not only a fan but a son—a sidekick in most of his endeavors. I learned to think backwards so to say. As in, everything that was bad or evil was good and vice versa. Law enforcement was the enemy, not sent to protect but to enslave. The bad guys were the good guys and that is who we chose to do our biddings with. I was practically trained to understand that money was power and the more money I had the more power I would have. Ill gotten gain was the way of the walk and I perceived working people were foolish for committing an entire week to another man to earn $300.
Dazed and Confused
I thank God that my father was committed to Christ although when I was young I did not enjoy it so much. Imagine leaving Satan’s world of dominion for only four days a month to be submerged in the Word of God. It became quite confusing and basically nonsense to me as I grew older. By the time I was thirteen years old I began to sneak out of church and hide until it was over. After my freshman year of high school I decided I wanted to live with my dad and my mother agreed that it was a good idea. At this point in my life my mind had been so programmed for deception that I did anything that I wanted to do and was literally out of control.
By the time I was in 11th grade I began smoking pot just for fun. I liked the high I would get from smoking marijuana so I began to do it more and more. By the grace of God I graduated high school and began looking for a job. Knowing what I did about easy money made it impossible for me to accept a minimum wage job. I did go to work in a factory for about six months and then quit. I began selling drugs and making money much faster. Now I was making $300 in forty minutes, not forty hours. I enjoyed this lifestyle much better as my mind had been programmed to operate in the underworld. It all seemed so natural, so easy to me. From the time I was 18 until I was about 24 years old the underworld was my life. My life consisted of party every night, sleep all day. I desired to have the hottest girl, the most money and the nicest things money could buy. My lifestyle eventually caught up with me and I was caught with a substantial amount of marijuana in my possession. That led to jail time.
While in jail I knew I needed something to help me out of this situation. Not only did I ask Jesus to come into my heart for the hundredth time but I picked up the Bible and began to read. Not only did I begin to read but I read the entire book. Although I really had no clue what most of the Bible was saying I felt a strong desire to read it.
After I was released I was offered a job by an acquaintance and knowing that I no longer wanted to involve myself with illegal activities I humbly accepted. I began work the next morning painting homes. Most of the work I was doing was grunt work and that was OK. What a day it was. I began my day with a bottle of water in hand and off I went. As the day progressed I noticed that I had been drinking more water than usual. I actually noticed a pattern. Any time I was tempted or had an evil thought I was prompted to take a drink. Lunch time was now approaching and I was asked by one of the guys if I wanted to partake of a little marijuana with them. I told them I was not interested in doing that anymore. More and more temptations came and I was able to withstand them. At one point I actually felt like the enemy was trying to take my soul. After a couple more hours passed I decided to resign. I went and sat in my friend’s truck and told him that I would wait there until the day was over. Everyone there was confused as they thought that I was losing my mind. Little did they know.
After the day was over we began to drive home and my friend looked at his gas gauge and noticed it was nearly empty. We had about a forty mile drive to my house and neither one of us had any money in our pockets. He suggested we go back and get money from the boss and I said no. I told him that I would pump five dollars in the tank and go inside and give the attendant my driver’s license and promise to come back and pay. He said OK and after pumping the gas I found out that my plan was not going to work as the lady at the counter told me if I did not pay she was going to call the police.
Now what was I going to do? I began to think that I would have to humble myself and beg for the five dollars. Just at that very moment I heard God speak to me. His voice was so clear the only way I know how to communicate this experience is to let you know that it was like I had a two-way radio with God. The only thing he said was “Believe in me.” I told him I did not know how to believe in him. Again he only said, “Believe in me.” So at that point I said, “OK, I will believe in you.” As soon as I said that the lady at the counter asked me to come back and she began to write out an IOU. She then asked me to sign it and as I grabbed the ink pen to sign it the Lord spoke to me again and said to drop the pen. So I asked the lady to excuse me for a second and I walked away from her and asked the Lord why he wanted me to drop the pen. He said it was because I did not believe in him but in myself if I signed the note. He asked me how I knew that I was going to be able to make it back to pay for the debt. I then understood that my very life was in his hands.
At that point I made the decision to believe he would provide for me. I felt at that moment like I allowed him to take complete control of my being. It was the best high that I have ever experienced. So on my way out of the store the lady at the counter asked me what I was going to do. I told her that I was going to believe that the Lord Jesus Christ was going to provide the money for me. Her jaw dropped and she looked at me like I was crazy. I even felt a little crazy myself but what transpired in the next few minutes changed my life forever. The easiest way for me to describe what was going on was to say that I was a remote control car and God had the transmitter or controller. I felt my body walk out the door of the gas station and the moment I stepped outside a black luxury vehicle pulled up in the middle of the parking section and I proceeded to walk over to it. As I approached this very nice car a foreign man got out and looked at me. I walked up to him and he started saying something in a foreign language that I could not understand. He then reached into his pocket and I heard change rattling around. He then extended his hand to me and in my time of need my reaction was to receive what he had to give. He then released some change into my hand and the only thing he said in English was “Now go find one more.” He then turned from me and got back into his car. I turned and started walking back to the store when a guy about my own age came walking out toward me with a one-dollar bill in his hand. He gave it to me and said, “I know you need this, Brother.” I thanked him and walked into the store. I dropped the change on the counter that the man had given me and it was exactly four dollars in quarters and the one-dollar bill from the other guy. It equaled five dollars and the Lord provided for me that day.
God spoke to me and said, “I can provide everything that you’ll ever need. All you have to do is believe.” The guy I rode with was astonished with what he saw transpire. I told him it was God and that God was speaking directly to me. He did not know what to think. I was so excited that I had the opportunity to communicate with the creator of the universe. I remained in this state for the whole ride home and it was such a great experience. At the time I still lived with my dad and when I arrived at home I went inside the house and found that no one was home. I was then led into my Dad’s bedroom to his dresser where he kept his Bible. My dad read the Bible every day and had a book marker in the place where he had finished reading. I took the Bible into the kitchen and sat down at the table. I opened the book to the place where the book marker was and began to read. I was so amazed as the words I read were so alive. God began to show me everything about who I was and who he created me to be.
He described many of my physical attributes through his living Word. I remember going and looking in the mirror only to find the exact details of what God was telling me including simple things such as how my teeth are aligned and the texture of my hair. He also shared with me some things about my future and how he had great plans for me. By the way, he has big plans for you also. I then fell on my knees and began to cry because I felt so unworthy of all that God had in store for me. All I could think about was all the evil things that I had done and how pitiful of a person I was. Then Satan began to speak to me and he said that everything that I was going though was from all the drugs that I had taken in the past. As you can imagine I began to feel even more miserable. Then God spoke to me again and he told me to go count the days I was in jail. So I walked over to the calendar and began to count. I counted a total of forty one days and on the forty first morning I was released. There it was right in front of my eyes—FORTY DAYS and FORTY NIGHTS. God assured me this was all part of his plan and told me to focus on him and his word and I would be just fine.
That was the plan—stay focused on God’s word. Staying focused only lasted a little while and then slowly but surely I was back at it again. How stupid could I be? I mean all that happened . . . I had a conversation with God, he provided for me and told me of a bright future he had in store for me and I was selling and doing drugs again. Now it became rather easy to make money as Satan turned up the heat. All kinds of things became available to me. So up the ladder I went. Sometime during this part of my life I met my awesome wife Ashley. Thank God she stayed with me through all the hell I put her through. Ashley became pregnant with our first child and about four months into her pregnancy I began to desire a change in my life as I began to realize that everything that I was chasing after was an illusion. Besides, I was miserable inside and I did not want my daughter to be involved in this lifestyle. I began looking for a job and eventually I came across an ad in the newspaper about a local car dealership looking for a salesperson so I called and they had me come in for an interview. I went to the interview and I thought it went well. I then got a phone call a couple of days later for a second interview. I got the job and immediately excelled. My sales manager was an awesome guy who seemed like he cared about me and not too long after working there he began to talk to me about God. I found out he was a pastor and he invited me to his church. I took him up on his offer and my wife and I attended. We had a good time, as this church was different than the one I grew attending. The people there were real. So I found a church that I liked and I began to grow in the word. My thought process was still messed up and even though I was going to church I was still using drugs and partying. Not too long after I was hired another man got a job as a salesman. This guy got close to me and we would go out to the bar and party and hang out. When he lost his job he called me and asked me to hook him up with some drugs to sell as he had three children at home and no money. I tried multiple times to introduce him to other people as I no longer wanted to participate in illegal sales. Eventually, after none of the introductions worked, I gave in and decided to get the supply for him. I set up a meeting with this guy and another one at a local bar. When I got there I went inside and set up the time and place for this to happen. We parted ways and the next day I left work at lunch to go deliver the product to him. It was then that I found out that this man was working as an undercover officer as I got pulled over by the police and was taken to jail.
Fear or Faith
So there I was locked up again for the same thing except this time on a much larger scale. The police told me I was facing eighty years in prison if I was convicted of all the charges they were going to bring against me if I did not cooperate. I elected not to cooperate and my bond was set at five hundred thousand dollars. I was thinking, a half million dollars is a whole bunch of money and I am not going to get out of this one. I called my wife and then my pastor who prayed for me and assured me that God had seen my struggle and that God knew I was trying to leave this lifestyle behind. He told me to have faith and believe that God would deliver me from this situation. So I sat behind bars and after about a week I was called into the courtroom for a bond reduction hearing. The judge dropped my bond from $500,000 to $300,000 cash no 10%. I was like, “thanks a lot” and went back to my cell without much hope. Every day I was in the Bible reading and trying to seek God. I was in a group cell with five other inmates and it was weird that they called me “Preacher” and wanted me to conduct Bible studies every evening. I led one man to accept Jesus as his lord and savior while in jail. Another week went by and I was called back to the courtroom for a bond reduction hearing. This time the judge reduced my bond from $300,000 to $200,000 cash no 10%. So back I went to my cell. I sat and weeks began to pass by as my next scheduled court date was months away. The most difficult thing about being in jail this time was the fact that my wife was pregnant with our second child. My daughter was to be born any day and more than anything I wanted to be there for my wife. Unfortunately, my wife went into labor and I had to deal with not being able to support my wife during this very difficult time. Missing the birth of my second child was worse than the time I spent behind bars.
One morning I woke up and was about to lose complete faith and had thoughts of hardening my heart as I thought I was going to end up in prison. At that moment an officer came over the intercom and told me to get ready for court. I got ready and had no idea why I was wanted in court again. When the officer came and got me and put the handcuffs on my wrists and shackles on my feet I asked him why I was going in front of the judge. He said they wanted to have one final bond reduction hearing for me. When I got in front of the judge he asked me why I was not in a position to pay my bond. I told him that $200,000 was a lot of money and that no one in my family had that kind of money. He looked down and slowly lifted his head to tell me that my bond was only $2,000 and all I needed was $200.00 and I was free to go. My attorney (who was court appointed by the way) told the judge that there was a mistake as his papers stated that my bond was a $200,000 cash bond. The judge then said he was the judge and if I came up with $200.00 I would be free to go. I got so excited and as soon as I got back to my cell I heard God speak to me again. He said, “John, go count the days you have been in here.” I did and of course it was forty days and forty nights and it was the forty-first morning. He told me it was him and that he was giving me another opportunity. I called my mother and told her about what happened. She was so excited and amazed at the fact that God delivered me again on the forty-first morning. My dad came and bonded me out. When I was released I immediately started to thank God for all that he was doing in my life and I dedicated my life to him. I have been free from all drugs since 2004 and have been serving in my church ever since. I have a call on my life and I am choosing to follow the Lord. I am now the associate pastor at my church and am currently employed as general sales manager at a five star Chrysler Dodge Jeep dealership. My wife and I have been blessed with three wonderful children—two girls and a boy. We strive to follow Jesus every day and we are thankful that our God is full of grace and mercy.