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Jesus said unto her, I am the resurrection, and the life: he that believeth in me, though he were dead, yet shall he live:
And whosoever liveth and believeth in me shall never die. Believest thou this?
(With the exception of the author, all names have been changed--tyb)
In 1995, when I turned 16, I got a job at Kentucky Fried Chicken in Poteau, Oklahoma. I got hired at the same time as a friend of mine whose name is Jeremy. We started out as bitter enemies but somehow we grew to be wonderful friends.
Jeremy and I had nothing better to do with our time than tear things up. We would steal signs, steal parking meters and drag them behind his car, blow up mailboxes, and other destructive things. And boy, did we love it. We thought that we owned the world and we were sooooo cool. When we would get caught by the cops, we would just laugh because we had more stories to tell our friends of how cool we were. I started going out with a girl named Sally, and because she was older and more worldly-wise, I really looked up to her. We started drinking and smoking heavily, not only on weekends but also on weeknights. We didn't care. It was the cool thing to do.
We soon grew tired of getting drunk all of the time. So one night at KFC, Jeremy came up to me and made me an offer that I will never forget. He wanted me to smoke marijuana with him. Of course, I said yes. You see, I had no morals, so why would it make any difference? So we started getting high all of the time as well as drunk. We got all of our friends to start doing it with us, and that's about all we ever did. Morning, noon, and night.
Soon, I got the most earth-shattering news in my life. Sally was pregnant. We decided that we would get married at first, but as time went on, I started to chicken out. In May, we made a trip to Tulsa and got an abortion. I didn't even regret it at the time. It was a big load off of my chest. Sally, on the other hand, literally began to go nuts. She cried 24 hours a day, and to top it all off, her parents got a divorce. But we just continued to party. We would numb ourselves to ease the pain.
At a small get-together one night, Jeremy and another friend of mine left the house to go see the dealer. Sally and I were alone. In a drunken stupor, she began to cry and say over and over, "I killed our baby for youI killed our baby for you". As you can probably imagine, I went absolutely crazy. I threw things all over the house, kicked doors down, and destroyed everything. I was playing football at the time and could bench press 300 lbs., so I could do a lot of damage. Later, we got in the car to go get Jeremy and my friend. Sally and I got into another argument, and she kicked the windshield out. I began to yell and cuss at her, and she opened the door (we were going about fifty mph) and jumped out. I caught her by the ankle before she hit the pavement and yanked her back into the car. That was one of the scariest moments of my life. We ended up going home and telling her dad that my head hit the windshield in an accident. I told myself that if I ever heard her say those words again, it was over.
Of course, she said them again. We broke up and she moved to Kentucky. I was devastated. So, Jeremy and I began to hit the bottle and the joint even harder. We started to hang out with the gangs in Poteau. We would laugh and joke about how we couldn't remember a day when we weren't drunk or stoned. But we were absolutely miserable.
School started, and I started to date [a]...girl named Jessica...I fell head over heels for her. She lived in Poteau at the time, and I lived in Heavener, so we cherished every moment we had together. But the coolest part was that she would get high with me. I thought that I was King of the Universe.
When I was younger, my best friend was Steve. We did everything together. At band practice one night, I was waiting on Jessica and he was waiting to pick up his sister. We started talking and decided to go to my house. We talked 'till three in the morning. It was great. I went and told my friends that I was going to get Steve to smoke dope with us.
The next night, we stayed up talking again. He was dating Natalie at the time and told me that he thought that she was pregnant. I knew the feeling, of course, so I told him my story and not to take that road. I then began to tell him all of my stoner stories. I brought out my weed and begged him to smoke it with me. But he refused. I tried every way in the world, but he refused. He shot down every argument that I had about how cool it was. I don't remember a lot of it, but he convinced me that Jeremy and Mike would turn their backs on me when they found out that I quit, and that he would stand by me. By the end of the night, I was crying on his shoulder, telling him that I loved him and that I would go to college with him. I went in and threw my pipes, lighters, and weed away. I felt like a new man.
Sure as the world, they all turned on me when they found out. Except Steve and Jessica, I now had no friends. Jessica's dad was the only policeman in a town 50 miles away called McCurtain. Soon, they had to move to McCurtain. But we decided to stay together...Eventually, I got the dreaded phone call. Her parents were forcing us to break up. I cried and cried. The deep kind of cry when your soul feels like a crushed tin can. I now had nothing.
This was on a Saturday night, and Steve was spending the night with me. He tried to console me, but it just wouldn't work. I decided that I had no choice but to kill myself. I had lost my drugs, my friends, my child, my parent's respect, and the only girl I ever loved. I now had literally nothing.
I went to the bathroom (that's always the best place to cry). I took a long look at myself in the mirror. I said, "Who are you? I don't even know you anymore." I sank to my knees in despair. I had no place left to turn but up. I stretched out my arms and turned my face toward the sky. With my eyes closed I cried out, "God! Jesus! If anyone is really up there, you've got to help me! I have nowhere else to turn!"
God spoke to me.
I thought that I was really going nuts, but I knew that God had spoken to my heart. He said, "I'll take care of it."
I said, "Father! You've never spoken to me before!"
He said, "My son, you've never listened before."
I began to cry rivers of joy. I now had God on my side. I knew that it would all be O.K. I went into my room where Steve was playing Sega. I said, "Dude, I'll go to church with you tomorrow."
At church, I felt out of place, but every word that Steve's dad preached seemed directed to me. It seemed to cut me to the bone. But, I could feel God's presence all around me. It was totally awesome! I didn't know that you could go to church and actually feel something other than boredom!
Soon, it was time for the invitation. Omar (Steve's dad) looked around the room and said, "I can look into your eyes and tell which one's of you are ready for revival. The eyes are the windows to the soul. And, I can tell which one's of you are scared."
I thought, "Well, look at me preacher, cause I'm ready for something real."
His head turned slowly toward me. He came and pointed his finger at me and said, "I've known this young man all of his life, and I can tell that he's ready for something real." That was all I needed to hear. It was totally supernatural.
He made the invitation to come to the altar. I was the first one there. All I did was take one step out of the pew and I was carried the rest of the way. I looked down, and my feet were moving but I was not moving them! On October 28, 1995, I gave my heart and my entire life to Jesus Christ. I never knew joy until that moment. As Steve and I drove away, I laughed so hard that I couldn't keep my Jeep on the road. It was the highest high that I had ever felt. I was saved! I was going to Heaven! It was the greatest moment of my life!
My life has been absolutely amazing since then. I have a personal relationship with Jesus, I'm on the rock, Spirit-filled, and on fire for God! I hope to be preaching soon, as soon as God calls me. But, it is nothing that I have done-all glory and praise must be given to the Lamb of God, who takes away the sin of the world! Soon after, Jessica and Jeremy got saved! Praise the Lord.