Hating the Sin He Once Loved
By Rod Thomas
The 700 Club
CBN.com - “I was like, ‘I gotta kill this dude.’ Revenge drove Jay Harris to the brink of murder. “I began to watch him and I began to find out information about his crew, and I found out where his house was.” Jay remembers, “I said, ‘He’s going to pay for everybody.’”
This was the latest in a string of bad choices for Jay. After his stepfather died, his search for an identity took him down a dangerous path. It started when he was in high school. “I met a bunch of other guys who didn’t have fathers also and we kinda all were empty and looking to prove ourselves or to be a part of something. And I was willing to go the extra mile to be accepted. Before I knew it, I was selling drugs. I was selling guns. I was robbing. I was stealing.”
Jay kept his lifestyle hidden from his mother and sisters for a while, but when he got busted by the cops, they realized he was not the same person. “My mother, when she saw the magnitude of what I was involved in, she was extremely fearful ‘cause we didn’t live like that. My sisters were scared. They were like, ‘I don’t even know you. Who in the world are you?’ And that’s when the gig was up.”
His mother eventually moved Jay and his sisters to Jacksonville, Florida for a fresh start. Though Jay wasn’t the criminal he was in New Jersey, he made more bad choices. “(I) really started running around with girls like crazy; the clubbing and partying, smoking a lot of weed, drinking like crazy, and popping ecstasy pills. We’d go to South Beach and party the whole weekend,” Jay recalls. “But along the way the alcohol kinda grabbed me and was like ‘You’re my prisoner. You thought you was just doing this for recreation. You’re going to drink when I tell you to drink.’ Instead of a weekend thing it became an everyday thing and then it became a way to not look at life, and never slow down. And just stay in that party (mindset) all the time.”
He eventually met Alanna, who was different from the other girls he’d been with. She genuinely cared for him. He wanted to become a better person for her sake, but wondered if he could. “I said, ‘Either I’m going to ruin her life or I have to change my life.’ So I hit that point in my life where I had to make that decision. From that point I started trying to be good. And that’s when I found out I had no potential to be good, because I tried to stop drinking. I couldn’t stop drinking.”
As Jay partied, Alanna started going to church. She learned about God as a child, but had turned away as a teenager. Now, as a young adult, she wanted to get her life back on track with God. “There was a freedom that I knew that I could get my hands on. Like almost like just freedom from all the shame and all the hurt from my past.” week, she asked Jay to go to church with her. “I couldn’t get him to come and it bothered me so much because he was going through so much; drinking, drugs, and he was really miserable.”
One New Year’s Eve night, Alanna got ready for the church service. She pleaded with Jay to come with her, but he had other plans. “This was like one night where she specifically went extra hard with begging me to go to church. And I was like, ‘I can’t do it. It’s party night.’” But that night, Jay got into a fight with some guys outside the club. He was outnumbered and badly beaten. Jay had an ongoing feud with one of them, and after that night, he had one thing on his mind – revenge. “I was going to just hide out by the front of his house, catch him coming out of his car, and I was going to run up and shoot him. I began to really launch a whole scheme on how I was going to do this and how I was going to get away Scott free,” he remembers.
His mind was constantly racing as he devised his scheme, but he needed a quiet place to plan; so one Sunday he went to church with Alanna. “I needed a place to kinda lay low and I figured it was a good place to think. While I was actually plotting this I was like, ‘I can sit inside a church.’”
But as he listened, the pastor’s words caught Jay’s attention. “I felt like the pastor was talking directly to me and it spooked me out like crazy. Like it was challenging me as a man, is what I really felt like. I felt like everything he was delivering was truth, truth about myself.
He kept going to church with Alanna. But, he was still plotting to kill his enemy. One Sunday, as they were leaving the building . . . “I’m walking out of the church, finally getting a breath of fresh air from God – trying to get away; and I hear God speak to me as clear as day. This was an audible voice that I heard and He said, ‘You’re going to die this week.’ I didn’t go, “Hey God, was that You?’ Instantly, my whole body knew. There was no question at all. It felt as though I was standing before a judge and He just gave me a life sentence,” Jay recalls.
Alanna also remembers that moment. “He stops and he’s like, ‘Did you hear that?’ -and I said, ‘No, what are you talking about?’”
“She goes, ‘Well, what do you want to do?’ I said, ‘We gotta go back in this church,’” Jay answered. “I went straight to the altar. She was a couple feet over next to me and we both fell down on our knees. I said, “God, I love the drugs. I love what I do. I love this life that I live, but it’s killing me. It’s going to destroy me.’ And I said, ‘God, You can have my heart. I give my life to You. I repent of my sins.” I said, ‘but please make me hate the sin that I love so much.’”
Jay never carried out his plan. He walked away from the altar knowing he had to make better decisions. “I knew, once He spoke to me, it was a done deal. It was either today or it was over,” he said. “It’s like my eyes were wide open. What used to be so alluring and such a draw for me was no longer there.”
Jay and Alanna made the decision to put God first in everything they did. They married and started a family. “I had no idea that God would do what He did. He did a 180-degree change. It was a process but God just started working on him and he became a completely different person,” Alanna recalls.
The couple started a business together—a clothing store called ‘Straight and Narrow.’ “It’s that path and living that lifestyle, walking that walk and so forth and giving people once again what I was given; that opportunity to make a change.”
Jay is grateful for God giving him another chance at life. “I’m still in awe that he would make Himself known in such a way. People go, ‘Man, Jay has an amazing testimony.’ But to me, it’s amazing because I can’t believe He would go through all of that to speak to me after the way that I’ve rejected Him so much. So I’m so thankful to know Him, and be living for Him today.”
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