In July of 2004 a new chapter of my life was opened. I might even venture as far as saying that in that year it wasn't a new chapter in and of itself, but quite possibly the only chapter that ever mattered.
Today marks the four year anniversary of the first day I spent free of heroin. This is a day I am eternally grateful for. While it's not like a birthday that is celebrated with cake and ice cream surrounded by friends who are all happy for you, it is a day I give gratitude to the grace of our Lord Jesus Christ.
A short summary of that day might go like the following. I awoke in a precinct holding cell in Lincoln Park, MI., sick as a dog. I grew annoyed by the relentless questioning of the case detective and angry at his sarcastic banter that was making fun of my withdrawal symptoms. The bones of my body began to ache from the inside out and nausea was quickly setting in. The fear of withdrawing from heroin that kept me using for so long was finally a reality I was going to have to face.
My future was quickly on my mind and I was not too thrilled about becoming a convicted felon and spending time in Detroit's Wayne County Jail, but it was going to be so. And so it became. That day I was transferred to the County Jail and I began a week of withdraws that I remember to this day. In such vivid remembrance I keep in my mind a portrait of what I never want to be again. A junkie I was, and a junkie I'll never return to being. With the worries of what my life will become darkly overshadowed by the sickness setting in, I accepted my new realty, and in some sick way, was happy that I was finally going to 'kick' the dope.
Spending time in a quarantine cell that held twenty inmates and was maxed out with thirty was not very pleasant. Mingling and living with drug dealers, killers, rapists, and child support evaders was not something this suburban white boy would ever think he'd end up doing, but it too was sobering. However, it was a safer environment than the one I had been arrested in. One week in that unit was what I spent and was eventually transferred to general population. I could actually walk better and was getting over the puking that is typical with DT's (withdrawal from alcohol/heroin).
Another week passed by and I finally felt human again. I could smell, taste, touch, talk, and see (thanks to the glasses my mother brought to the jail for me) again. I was starting to know what it was like to be alive. I spent six months in the streets masquerading as the living dead. Never, no never, did I think about being saved by the Lord Jesus. Nor did I ever ponder the thought of living a life of righteousness and holiness that can only be had through His Holy Spirit. That week, He revealed to me in salvation that it could be a reality. That week, He chose to save me from my sin and deliver me unto Him.
Praise God for His infinite mercies. The previous description barely scratches the surface of the things I endured and experienced up to that day. The journey following was not a bed of roses either, but all of it pales in comparison to the climax of light and perfection of the Lord's pardoning and sufficient sacrifice for me.
Four years is a long time for a heroin addict to not do heroin. In comparison to ten years of heavy drug and alcohol abuse, four years is finite. I've lost many friends to heroin and drugs over the years. I've also seen a great many more people fall victim to it and suffer physical consequences in their latter years.
While I held my three month old niece today I thought of new life. I thought of being born again and a clean slate. I thought of how my family would not trust me with a dollar let alone this precious little child. I think of forgiveness and the gift of eternal life that instills gratitude that runs so deep a tear wells in my eye as I type this. I think of my family who tells me how great I've done and how quickly I get to tell them It isn't me, but Christ that lives within me (Gal 2:20).
In closing thought I share with you this. One night I sat in a dank and dark basement with a cocaine dealer, and we were carrying on about religion. In justification he shared with me a reason why he thought we were doing what we were doing. He shared Romans 7:19 with me and upon reading it, I burst into tears. Occurring several years before my conversion, I knew this was not a justification of my sinful lifestyle, but now understand it to be a revelation of what His Sovereign Hand was doing. I now know that He was going to call me unto Himself, and now know Him as Lord and Savior. That verse was the only one I knew after my arrest. It was the only one I could remember in my head until I had a Bible given to me. I now also see how the Roman epistle served to convert a great many a men and now count myself as one of them.
Praise His Holy Name!