Choosing a Life Without Drugs
By Dan Reany
The 700 Club
As a young boy growing up in Chicago, Jim Christensen excelled in school and sports. But when he got to be a teenager, his life changed. His mother, who had been abused when she was a teenager, took her anger out on him.
"I was never good enough," explained Jim. "none of us were. She'd always compare us to others, and I’ll never amount to anything, I was told. I’m no good."
The constant criticism took its toll.
Jim held back tears as he said, "One day, I’m building a model, and I started to sniff the glue that I used to build them."
Jim started drinking and doing drugs. He was kicked out of school, and joined the army at 17. Two years in, he was busted for drug possession and dishonorably discharged. Back in civilian clothes, Jim met and eventually married Martha.
Martha warmly smiled as she remembered, "He was funny. He was outgoing. He was witty. He was everything that I wasn't."
Martha knew Jim used drugs occasionally, but she didn't know he was snorting coke every day. "My nose would start to bleed," explained Jim, "because of that, I wound up getting introduced to crack cocaine."
A heavy crack binge brought on a heart attack. A doctor told Jim if he smoked crack even one more time, he could die.
With tears streaming down his face, Jim said, "I realized this thing has taken everything that I love from me. It was my number one priority. Not my children, not my wife, not my job."
Jim cleaned up his act for about a month. "Then one day, somebody put it in front of me, and as insane as it may sound, I did it," said Jim. "and I sat back, scared to death, waiting for my heart to burst."
Jim kept using crack, and after twenty years in the pizza business, he lost his job. With no income, he took money from his wife to buy drugs. Martha said, "At this point in time, I wanted so much to hate him, but I didn't. I still loved him."
Eventually his family convinced him to go to a Salvation Army rehab center. His wife and daughter dropped him off, but he didn't want to keep his end of the bargain. Jim said, "My daughter and my wife, were yelling from the car, you know, to go in."
Martha explained with a heavy heart, "And he just kept walking down the street. He was like a cold stone; just walking down the street like he didn't even know us. And finally I said to her, 'Honey, we just got to let him go. He's got to do what he's got to do. And all we can do is pray that, that God will keep him safe, and if He doesn't, it's not our fault.'"
"And I found a tavern and they drove off," said Jim. "I had spent my last couple dollars, got a couple beers, and I said, 'Well, o.k., I’m ready.' And that's when I walked back to the rehabilitation center. And the guy at the desk says, 'You can't come in here.' And I says, 'Why?' And he says, 'You smell like alcohol.' He said, 'I have a hundred and fifty guys in here that are trying to get sober. I can't let you in.' Well, it was in the middle of winter. It was the last week of February. And it was cold. And I walked the streets all night long. I hadn't eaten for about three days. I was starting to come down from the drugs. So now I’m cold, and I’m hungry, and penniless."
Jim felt completely abandoned, but God was with him. "There was, someone walking with me," Jim said. "and like I said, you know, if it was an angel. But he kept me safe. I was walking some pretty harsh streets. It was like, 'Jim, take a look. This is your life,' you know. And I didn't like it."
Jim sobered up, and was allowed to check into the rehab center. There, he had another encounter with God. Jim explained, "I was at the lowest point of my life. And there was a Bible sitting there on the bunk. I picked it up. And at that moment, I was spoken to. And I remember real clear, the words spoken to me were, 'Jim, if you serve Me, I will renew your life.' And I’m like, ‘Wow.’" Jim’s eyes filled with tears of joy as he continued. "At that moment, I realized that I was just given a promise. And at that moment, I was just filled with this hope. The shame, the guilt, it just left me. And I just knew, I knew that everything was going to be o.k."
Jim gave his life to Christ. He was immediately delivered from his crack addiction. But Martha couldn't believe he had changed, so she wouldn’t take him back. Jim moved in with his sister and volunteered at her church.
"I made a profession of faith, at the Easter sunrise service," said Jim. "This day I wanted to make a profession of faith, you know, amongst other believers."
Meanwhile, Martha and their five children had been forced to move into a one- bedroom-apartment after the bank foreclosed on their home. Martha bitterly remembered, "When the two youngest wanted to go out and see him, I felt like they betrayed me, because I was a good parent. They were out there for almost a week and they came back and they were so excited. And I couldn't believe that they were so excited from seeing their dad after everything he put us through. And they were saying how ‘Dad listens to Christian music. Dad goes to church. Dad doesn't swear anymore.’"
Jim moved back in with his family. In time, Martha forgave him.
With a sparkle in her eye, Martha said, "When he would drive me to work, we started to pray together. And I think that's what brought us closer."
Jim’s former boss gave him another shot in the pizza business. He started back as a busboy, worked his way up to manager, and eventually bought the shop he managed. Jim said, "It's my dream come true. I've always wanted a pizza place of my own."
Today, the business is thriving, and three of his children work at the shop with him. He’s also back in uniform. Jim explained, "Last year, Easter Sunday, I was enrolled as a soldier in the Salvation Army. And in order to do that, to wear the uniform, you can't drink, you can't smoke, or do drugs. To wear that uniform today, for me, is a sign of victory that God has given in my life."
Martha encouraged those facing addictions, "Jesus said that He’s the light, and He’s the light that will get you out of your darkness."
Jim added, "It's a miracle what He has done. He saved my life. We have to give up lordship of our own life, and let Jesus be Lord, and trust Him, and He’ll show you what He’ll do. And it’s amazing."
CBN IS HERE FOR YOU!
Are you seeking answers in life? Are you hurting?
Are you facing a difficult situation?
A caring friend will be there to pray with you in your time of need.