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CBN.com As a teenager, Mike Farris traveled a lonely road and sometimes a dangerous one. It started when his parents divorced. He was 11-years-old.
"That was really devastating. You don’t realize it’s going to take so many years to get over something like that," he realizes now.
Mike’s love for music and sports helped him cope with the pain. But when an injury sidelined him, Mike turned to drugs and alcohol.
"I felt lost. And I felt, I didn’t know what my purpose was. Immediately, I fell out of my classes and started smoking weed, and drinking, and stuff like that."
Soon Mike’s behavior landed him in reformatory school.
"So I dropped out of school, went the next week, got my GED, and just left home. When I got to Knoxville, there was a little bar down the street, and that’s when I first got exposed to live music. And I just said, that’s what I want to do."
Despite his love for music, Mike’s addictions continued to drive him…
"I was still doing drugs and drinking. By this time, I was a full blown cocaine addict and alcoholic. And one night, I went and stayed over at a friend’s house. And I overdosed ... I got too high and after that I was like, 'Okay, this is definitely a sign that I’m definitely on the wrong track, and I know there is a place for me.' "
So Mike moved home with his dad who had remarried. His new wife was a Christian, and she would sit up all night long reading me Scriptures and answering my questions.
Mike gave his life to Christ.
"I said I’m going to commit my life to You. I’ve tried everything else and nothing else has worked, and I don’t really have…I’m all alone in this world. I want to know that path."
As Mike’s life changed, he decided to start a band...
"It was way more than I was prepared for. You know, I was fresh into faith and once we got going and got up running, it occurred to me that this may be more than I can handle you know ... playing in bars and stuff like that," he says.
The group toured with acts like the Dave Matthews Band, Sheryl Crow, and Bob Dylan. Before long, Mike fell back into his old habits. For the next 15 years, Mike was a slave to his addictions again.
"I fell off the wagon, started drinking, and doing drugs again," he says. "You know that you’re hurting the people around you. You know that you’re falling short in all ways, but you just can’t seem to stop, and you can’t fathom life outside of the drugs."
Mike didn’t know where to turn.
"I didn’t know how to get out. I was either going to go all the way and just kill myself with it or eventually something was going to happen, and I was going to come out of it and survive. At the time, I didn’t know what was better really."
A death in the family finally opened Mike’s eyes…
"So I went home that night, and I told my mom for the first time. I said, 'Mom, I’m a drug addict,' and it was the first time I’d ever said that. My brother had called his pastor and some guys from the church came over and prayed over me, and it was like a purging. I cleaned up. I rededicated my life right there on the spot. I was like, God whatever You want me to do, I’ll do it. I want to serve you in any capacity whatsoever, and I love music. But, I’ve done such a horrible job at holding this beautiful gift that I don’t know if you’ll allow me to do it anymore. And sure as the world, I started writing these songs."
Now Mike’s music is not a diversion. It is worship. He recently released his second solo album, Salvation in Lights.
"Just the process of creating music is healing to me because anytime I’m creating music, if I’m editing or whatever or writing lyrics, I’m closer to God at that point than I ever am, and I witness this beautiful birth of this message."
Mike hopes to use his gift to reach others.
"There’s still a God who loves you out there. And you can start over any day…any minute you can just start fresh."
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