My son’s 5th birthday, three years ago today, was one of the darkest, loneliest days of our lives. Brody woke up to what should have been a celebration only to see his dad’s bags packed as I waited to be picked up by a friend and taken to another state for at least 7 months. He, and our one year old daughter (the rest of our kids had already left for school) clung to their mother’s leg as I waved goodbye to them all, not knowing if I would ever see them again.
I left town that day leaving a wake of destruction. Nearly 2 decades of sexual addiction had gutted me of any real desire to change or hope that I could while systematically destroying my wife’s faith and trust in both God and myself. I wish I could tell you what state of mind my kids were in but the truth is I was too involved in my own junk to really notice or truly care. I could tell they were sad and scared and confused but I was not in any condition to address their needs when I was powerless to address my own.
This trip to a place called Pure Life Ministries was a last ditch effort to save my life, or what was left of it, and to hopefully turn me into a productive member of society, if not for anyone else then at least for the benefit of my five kids. They deserved a dad who could stop looking at pornography long enough to hold a job so that they could have food to eat. Amy had already filed for divorce, so this trip was not meant to salvage a shipwrecked marriage. It was to save my life.
That was three years ago today. Three years ago today I living in an economy hotel, taking a taxi to Little Caesars to work flipping pizzas while contemplating ending my life. Three years ago today I witnessed my kids cry because their daddy was going away and I didn’t have it within my heart to really care. Three years ago today my youngest son celebrated his 5th birthday and I was numb to the fact that I would miss his party, just like I had missed most of his life because I was so consumed in my addiction. Three years ago today I was waiting for my divorce to be finalized and trying to figure out how I would pay child support. Three years ago today was the darkest time of our lives.
It was also the beginning of a miracle.
I would have laughed in your face three years ago today had you told me that. I would have told you that you are out of your mind. There was no way on earth I could have believed that three years ago today would be the beginning of my sobriety. No way would I have believed that three years ago today, while experiencing unbearable darkness and despair, would be the genesis of a new life rising up out of ashes. No way would I have been able to believe that three years ago today God was already at work, long before Brody’s birthday, and that He was not finished with any of us yet.
But that is exactly what happened.
Today I am 3 years sober! Today I am celebrating all that God has redeemed, restored, and renewed. Today I am rejoicing over the change God has brought to bear in my life, my heart, my mind. Today I am celebrating what God has done and continues to do in my marriage, my family and in our home. Today I am in awe of a God who has mercifully restored me to the work of ministry and called me to pastor a church that I love and they love me and where I get the privilege of now witnessing God changing lives, restoring marriages, setting captives free and faith taking root.
And today I am remembering that there is no darkness so dark that the Light of the World cannot overcome. Today I am remembering that while there will be troubles and trials and sorrows in this world, there is One who has overcome the world (John 16:33). Today I am reminding myself that God leads the blind in a way they do not know, turning darkness into light, and makes rough places smooth (Isa. 42:16). Today I am rejoicing that God truly does work all things into good for those who love him and pursue him (Rom. 8:28). Today I am thankful that the good work God has started in me, and in you, will be seen to completion (Phil. 1:6).
God’s not done with any of us yet! If you are in a dark spot I want to encourage you today. God isn’t done. If you are in a place of despair and feel that all is lost, take heart. God isn’t done. God is willing and able to resurrect new life where there isn’t any. He longs to make you new, not just better (2 Cor. 5:17), and the best way and only way that happens is when we are brought to the very end of ourselves. So if you feel like you are in a tomb today, prepare yourself! The voice of the one who weeps for you is making it’s way to your ears even now: Come out! Come out! Come out! Unbind him or her and be set free! (John 11).
What looks impossible to us is totally possible for God. What will your 3 years from today look like? God knows. And with him by your side, the sky is the limit. I, and the world, can’t wait to hear your testimony!
Happy birthday, Brody!