Daniel Gray: The Party's Over
By Rod Thomas
The 700 Club
CBN.com -Daniel Gray remembers growing up the hard way. “I’m drinking every day. I’m smoking every day. I’m popping pills every day. I remember people saying, ‘Daniel, if you don’t stop, you’re going to end up dead or you’re going to end up in jail again.’ I listened to Tupac and some other of the gangsta rappers back then in the 90’s with guns and the girls, and the money and the sex and all that stuff just, it intrigued me and I just remember thinking, ‘You know, this guy is a star. These guys, they’ve got everything.’”
So Daniel Gray began living the gangsta lifestyle. “I would go to school and just meet up with my buddies and hop in a car and not even go to school. And we would just go out and party and smoke and drink and that led me to realizing that, ‘You know what? I could just kinda do this.’”
Before long he dropped out of school, and got into trouble with the law. His grandparents were fed up with his actions and attitude, so they sent him to Georgia to live with his dad, who had become a Christian. “He took me to church, talked to me about the Lord. But I was not open at all. I didn’t care. Didn’t want to hear it. Didn’t matter to me. All I wanted was to go back home to be with my friends.” So, he moved back to Alabama and got into his old lifestyle – he even started selling ecstasy.
After a night of heavy drugs and booze, he got in his car to drive home. Daniel remembers that, “I left a party heavily intoxicated. I made it about a mile down the highway from this party we were at, and I lost consciousness at the wheel.” He drifted across the oncoming lane, went off the road and flipped his car. Daniel barely survived the crash. “The first thing I remember, is the nurse came in the room and she looked at me and she said ‘You should have died last night. You were in a horrible car accident,’ and the only thing I cared about was getting the IV’s out of my arm and leaving so I could go get high again. I guess in a way, maybe it even gave me a sense of, you know, ‘I’m untouchable - I’ve been in the worst possible scenario and I still didn’t die.’”
In fact, nothing changed for Daniel. Until one night two of his friends got into a fight at a party. “In the middle of the fight, there was a gun. He picked the gun up and right there at this party, he shot himself in the head, and took his life,” Daniel remembers.
The funeral was sobering. “Man, seeing him in the casket I thought, ‘Gone too soon. Too young. Why does this happen? Why did this have to happen to my friend? Could this happen to me?’”
“The day after the funeral I’ll never forget - the best way I can explain it is - I just began to hear these questions. ‘Where are you? What are you doing? Where are you going?’ And I had no answer. I didn’t know how to answer those questions. For the first time in my life, I think I realized, ‘This is God.’ In that moment I realized that God was trying to get my attention. And THAT’S when I saw myself in the casket. THAT’S when my life began to flash before my eyes. That’s when I began to ask myself questions. ‘Why didn’t I die at this point? Why didn’t I die in that car crash? Why didn’t I die at that party? Why didn’t I get shot when we were feuding over this deal?’”
Daniel knew he had to make a change before it was too late. He called his dad and told him what happened. “I said, ‘Hey dad, I just want you to know, I feel like I need to change my life. If you’ll come and get me, I’ll get rid of all the drugs. I’ll get rid of everything that I don’t need, and I’ll move with you to Georgia. I’ll try to change my life.’”
“And for me to leave that and go home, I really was kind of anticipating withdrawals from some of the drugs and the feelings of addictions coming back, but I didn’t struggle. I didn’t fight and want to go back home. I didn’t argue. I wasn’t out looking for that stuff anymore.”
He started going to church with his dad. “I didn’t know what church was going to be like. I remember walking in the church door and as I walked into worship, there was this lady singing a song about God and about grace and love and those types of things. And man, for the first time in years, I just began to weep. I began to cry. I just began to have a softening I felt like was happening to me. I just broke down.”
He eventually accepted Christ as his Savior. “I remember saying, ‘God, thank You for sending Your Son for me. I’ve got a lot of issues, but I want to change and I want to feel true love.’”
Today, he is married to Heather, and they are expecting their first child. “I couldn’t imagine my life without Jesus. I couldn’t imagine my marriage without Jesus. I couldn’t imagine me bringing a child into this world with my wife without Jesus. I don’t understand everything about God, but I’m thankful that even in the midst of my sin, His Hand was still on my life.”
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