Today’s Scripture: This is a faithful saying, and worthy of all acceptation, that Christ Jesus came into the world to save sinners; of whom I am chief. Howbeit for this cause I obtained mercy, that in me first Jesus Christ might shew forth all longsuffering, for a pattern to them which should hereafter believe on him to life everlasting. 1 Timothy 1:15-16

Long story short, I used to be an alcoholic and a drug addict. If it wasn’t for the grace and mercy of God, I’d be dead or in prison right now. For a big part of my life, all I knew was darkness. Like so many people, I was taught that good boys go to heaven, and bad boys go to hell. I tried to be good, but by the time I was 12-13 years old, it just hit me: “If this is God, I don’t want anything to do with Him.”

I remember being young and praying, trying to talk to God, but I was taught that Jesus died to open the gates of heaven, now go be a good little boy and work your way through. I was miserable. By the time I was 13 years old, there were nights that my parents had to take turns sitting up all night with me, because I didn’t want to live anymore. I remember my dad leaving for work and telling my mom, “Don’t leave him alone.” Darkness does that. When you have no hope, nothing matters anymore.

As I got into high school, I got contacts, acne medication, started working out, drinking, mouthing off to teachers – and suddenly, I was one of the cool kids. But deep inside, I was still miserable. I was extremely driven, so for me, everything was a competition – including drinking. When I took my first drink at sixteen, I remember thinking that I would never turn out like the people who introduced me to alcohol. So, I started drinking heavily, showing up to school and work heavily intoxicated. In front of others, I was the life of the party. But the darkness inside? I hated it. I had no hope.

I was constantly trying to prove myself. I never really knew what I was trying to prove, and who I was trying to prove it to, but I knew I wasn’t good enough. There were times I’d think I had it together. I was a licensed contractor; I ran a couple of martial arts schools – yet I was still miserable. I only believed in God long enough to blame Him for what a mess my life was. When you don’t have the hope of Heaven, and all you know is darkness, you’ll do anything to not think about it. I spent countless nights drinking myself to sleep, only to wake up in the morning, disappointed that I was still alive.

Yet there were people in my life that cared about me. My uncle was constantly inviting me to church. It went on for a year – he’d invite me, I’d say yes, and never show up. But I spent time working around him and started to discover that while he wasn’t perfect, he was real.

One Sunday morning I woke up and went to church. To this day, I don’t why I did. The message I heard was different than anything I had ever heard. The pastor, Jim Mucerino, explained that salvation wasn’t by works. It made me a little bit angry because all my life, no one had ever told me that. I remember thinking, it’s not of works – then what is it? It was made so clear – Jesus died for me – eternal life was a gift. Right at that moment, I knew for sure I was going to heaven when I died.

Dr. Scudder has always taught that when you get saved you will change – you will either get better or you will get worse. Unfortunately, I got worse. Tomorrow I will share how God finally got a hold of my life.

Devotional by Pastor Jim Boyce