“A Testimony of God’s Grace” given by Rob V. on 3/26/2013

 

MP3 Format

“All of us like sheep have gone astray, Each of us has turned to his own way; But the LORD has caused the iniquity of us all To fall on Him.” – Isaiah 53:6

Hi, my name is Rob and I’m a recovering alcoholic/addict. By the grace of God, I’m able to be here today to share with you the testimony that God has given me. I pray that God touches your heart through the blessings that he has given to me since I recommitted my life to him. I would like to share with you today the different seasons that I’ve experienced in the life that God has blessed me with here on this earth.

First, I will share with you the season of growing up, my home life, and surroundings through teenage years. Then, I’ll talk about the addictions that overtook me and the chains and the weights that were on my shoulders because of them. Next, I’ll share when I truly got saved and began a personal relationship with God. Then, I’ll talk about how I unfortunately fell back into my old self and proceeded to go down the wrong road yet again. Lastly, I’ll share with you how God got my attention and brought me back to where my personal relationship with him originally started.

After I recommitted my heart and soul and whole life to him and him alone, has blessed me spiritually, emotionally, and physically. Most importantly, He has strengthened the personal relationship that He started with me right here in 1999, which I’ll discuss also.

April 11th 1975 God brought me into this world. I had 2 wonderful loving parents, 2 stepbrothers, and 2 stepsisters that I grew up with that had all been through some very trying times throughout their lives. My parents loved the Lord and they were fervent in their personal relationship with God and their service to Him, but only God is in control. Even though that’s where their focus was, unfortunately the world was able to pull my brothers away from the Lord. Through that, I experienced and was exposed to alcohol, drugs, partying, pornography, and premarital sexual relationships at a very young and vulnerable age. Unfortunately, I became very confused through the exposure to all of these things. However, the thing that confused me the most was being sexually abused, raped, and sodimized before I was out of grade school. He was my neighbor and only a few years older than me, but old enough to know that what he what doing to me was wrong. The abuse was not a one-time incident, and it occurred over an extended period of time. There were many occurrences that were not all the same. He made me perform sexual acts on him, and he performed sexual acts on me in various ways. Until the day came when he sodimized me, and that was the last occurrence. I was never so scared in my life, and was never so controlled by another human being. I felt so dirty and disgusting and in those feelings, he was able to have complete absolute control of me. I didn’t want to be in that situation anymore. I tried to think of ways to keep it from happening or to avoid it, but when I tried to run away or escape, his control still took power over me as he threatened to beat me to death. Again, there was an insurmountable amount of confusion that got into my mind that consumed my every thought. As a result, my thoughts were deeply warped and twisted. I didn’t know what was right or what was wrong. I didn’t know whether to go to the right or the left. All of the confusion in every cell of my body made it difficult for me to understand why these things happened. Being unable to achieve the slightest bit of comprehension brought me to the point where I had the barrel of a loaded shotgun in my mouth. It was after this time that I started to use addictions to numb the pain and erase the memories of this morally crude. It was a major factor that began my twisted sexual addictions. I began using and looking at pornography, and doing other immoral sexual acts which greatly increased as time passed. I stayed in that behavioral pattern until my next addiction came up in the 7th grade, which was nicotine. Me and my buddies that I grew up with experimented with tobacco, cigars, cigarettes like most young kids do, but it wasn’t until this point in 7thgrade, when I bought my first pack of cigarettes, that it truly became an addiction. Growing up through junior high school, I saw fellow students smoking as I was and that it was socially acceptable, so I felt that it was cool and that I was fitting in. Feeling cool and fitting in at this point, made me feel like somebody. In time, hanging out with the people that I had been, I had my first drink. Which eventually turned into my next addiction. The first time I got drunk was when I was 13. And just as me and my buddies play with cigarettes, we played with alcohol too, but again, it didn’t become an addiction until this point. After the first experience of getting drunk the amount of usages and abusage increased over time. Starting at once or twice a month, leading up to nearly every day. So there was immoral sexual activities, nicotine, alcohol, and the next addiction that consumed me was having sexual relationships. I lost my virginity in 9thgrade with the women that at the time, I thought I was going to marry. This addiction continued and increased severely as I went throughout high school.  After my addiction to having sex with women, I then fell into drugs. The first time that I got high on marijuana was in 9th grade. I smoked my first joint and saw others doing it…again it was socially acceptable, so I jumped on that bus also. Because the last thing I wanted to do was be unaccepted or be labeled as weird or an outcast. The usage increased substantially, especially after I graduated from high school. I then started experimenting with more potent types of drugs and narcotics pain medication. Lastly, all of these various addictions: pornography, immoral sexual acts, nicotine, alcohol, sexual relationships, marijuana, and other various drugs continued to control me until I gave these addictions to Jesus, and allowed God to take control of my life, which took place in 1999.

I gave my heart to the Lord shortly after I got married to the woman I lost my virginity with back in 9th grade! Right after we got married, God spoke to my heart through Pastor Dave and I got down on my knees with my wife next to me and while I was sobbing uncontrollably I asked God for forgiveness. I asked Him to take my burdens and addictions and asked Him to come into my heart. That day started the new life through Jesus Christ, and therefore my personal relationship with God. “Therefore, if anyone is in Christ, the new creation has come:[a] The old has gone, the new is here!” 2 Corinthians 5:17 But I don’t believe that my wife was along my side, and I don’t believe that she gave her heart or life to Christ, as I did. But I focused on my personal relationship with God. I then turned away from drinking. I was sober. I also turned away from illegal drugs. I didn’t smoke marijuana any longer. I asked the Lord and he provided me with the strength to turn from other addictions also. I decreased my use of pornography and immoral sexual acts, but   they still had an effect on me. I tried my best as a husband, as a father, and as a child of God for about the next 7 years. Then the marriage that started in 1999 was deteriorating. During this time I turned back to alcohol and drugs when I needed something to absorb the hurt from the pain of being abused not only when I was child, but also the verbal and mental abuse that was receiving from my wife. She cut me down with her words and made me feel like a bad husband, father, etc. In her eyes, it seemed as though there was not one positive characteristic of my personality or who I was as a man. I sincerely regret using drugs and alcohol to feel better during this time. I had the best medicine and I had the best Counselor available to me at all times but I decided to use something besides God for comfort and love and to feel accepted. God showed me that even though I was not depending on Him that His love was never-ending.

God got my attention in 2008 when my wife came to me and said I don’t love you anymore and I want a divorce. At that point, I knew that I was in the deepest, darkest valley that I had ever experienced in my life. It completely consumed every thought of my existence. I didn’t want to be here anymore, and didn’t feel I had any worth…and through the marriage it was reinforced that I was unworthy. I had thoughts of ending my life yet again. But God, in His sovereignty, showed his unfailing love through a godly coworker that I was able to confide in for confession and counsel. (slimy pit verse). Through sharing time with him and talking about my struggles, my brother in Christ mentioned a group that he believed would be a very helpful resource in my difficult situation. He explained that it was a biblically-based 12-step program for hurts, habits, or hang-ups, and that he has seen so much healing in so many people through this program. At the point, I was willing to commit  to anything that would help me and I agreed to get involved. I asked him where it was and he said this Celebrate Recovery group that we have talked about that I think would be very helpful tool for you is not too far away. It is at Cross Creek Community Church. And at that point, it all clicked! I felt God speaking through Tom at that very moment, and I truly felt God’s mercy and forgiveness…and sovereignty.  I truly felt God leading me right back to the place where my personal relationship with Him started, which was right here in 1999.

So by God’s grace, He gave me the strength to come back to Cross Creek. The first time was on a Friday night at Celebrate Recovery. My heart was heavy-laden. I got down on my knees AGAIN, balling my ever-loving eyes out, in front of the CR leader, asked for forgiveness, recommitted my life, and renewed my relationship with God. As his Word says, “For the wages of sin is death, but the free gift of God is eternal life in Christ Jesus our Lord.” Romans 6:23 God carried me through the difficult process of divorce. I was nothing but worried out of my mind at that point and my fears and anxieties consumed me. The thoughts of what was going to happen through the divorce worried me, but then God laid on my heart Matthew 6:34. It was the first scripture that God ingrained into brain, and it was stored in my heart. With His strength through His Word, with the support of the brothers and sisters in Christ, I was able to get through the divorce. It was one of the most difficult experiences of my life, but all things happen for a reason and no matter what happens, God showed me that we have to rejoice. (Phil. 4:4-7) Rejoice in the Lord always. I will say it again: Rejoice! Let your gentleness be evident to all. The Lord is near. Do not be anxious about anything, but in every situation, by prayer and petition, with thanksgiving, present your requests to God.And the peace of God, which transcends all understanding, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus.” That was second verse He instilled in my heart, as He was beginning to remold me as His Word says. Not only was I going through a divorce, but God was giving me the strength and counsel at the same time to use Celebrate Recovery to deal with the plethora of other issues I still needed to confront and confess.

The first issue that was a bad habit of mine since grade school was blasphemy and cursing. I cursed frequently all day, every day. But according to God’s Word, “But now you must put them all away: anger, wrath, malice, slander, and obscene talk from your mouth.” Colossians 3:8   But through prayer and submission, God helped me to improve.

The next thing God revealed to me through His Word was that I was prideful and selfish. “Pride goes before destruction, and a haughty spirit before a fall.” – Proverbs 16:18  I was always so worried about being in control and never let anyone else opinion touch me or affect me in any way, shape, or form. I struggled with the ability to accept other people or their opinions, thoughts, etc. because of my pride and self-centeredness…since I thought my ways were the best. I didn’t think I needed anyone else to figure things out.  But through God’s Word and the Holy Spirit, and prayer…I begin to address this ungodly characteristic in my personality…along with other ungodly characteristics. God has given me the strength to replace my pride with humility and understanding to others people feelings, thoughts, emotions, and ways of doing things – which I had never had before. God is continuing to work on me in this area, but their truly has been improvements. He has given me the strength to be more loving, respectful, and considerate as His Word also commands. “But as for you, O man of God, flee these things. Pursue righteousness, godliness, faith, love, steadfastness, gentleness. – 1 Timothy.” 6:11

At Celebrate Recovery, God also convicted my heart about lying and dishonesty. In the past, I always told people what they wanted to hear and lied to make others happy and make others believe think about me. I also lied to make people want to be associated with me. If I made mistakes, the last thing I wanted to do was commit to them. So, as a result I covered them up. If I was accused of something, the last thing I wanted to do to admit that I was wrong…which is also related to the pride I struggled with. But as a child of God, we need to adhere to His commands. With prayer and study at CR, God enabled me to become truthful, after assuring me that I didn’t have to impress or please man any longer…and that HE loved me for who I was. “The Lord is on my side; I will not fear. What can man do to me?” Psalm 118:6

These examples are just the beginning of the potter molding this lump of clay. Then God really started to speak to my heart about drugs I was using that abused this body that does not belong to me, but to God. “Or do you not know that your body is a temple of the Holy Spirit within you, whom you have from God? You are not your own, for you were bought with a price. So glorify God in your body.”  1 Corinthians 6:19-20    I also started attended Marathon Men’s Ministry. One night, the pastor asked if there was anything on our hearts that we would like others to pray for. I immediately raised my hand and said, “Yea! I smoked my WHOLE life and I wanna quit! I tried to do it all on my own. I tried the patch. I’ve tried the pill. Every time I tried to do it all on my own, I failed. I hate cigarettes, and I don’t ever want to smoke again. I don’t ever want to touch one again.” The pastor said, “You really want to quit smoking?!” And I replied, “Yeah I hate it and I want to quite right now!” He then asked all the men that came to men’s group that night to get around me to pray together and they did. Over 20 men surrounded me, as the pastor prayed for God to give me the strength and the courage to overcome my addiction to cigarettes. I had bought a pack on the way to Men’s Ministry that night. I smoked 2 of those cigarettes on my way to MM, but after those men got around me and prayed, and I had absolutely no desire to smoke cigarettes and I have not touched them since. Praise God!   “Jesus looked at them and said, “With man this is impossible, but with God all things are possible.” – Matthew 19:26   I taped this same scripture on the pack of cigarettes that I bought before men’s ministry, and still have those same cigarettes today. God gave me the strength to overcome 22 years of smoking and thank Him for it all the time.

Another one of my life-long battles was being addicted to alcohol, as I’ve discussed previously. God put a brother in Christ at my side who to help me overcome my alcohol addiction. He was a reformed alcoholic and was celebrating 10 years sober. Through prayer and counseling, and weekly attendance to Celebrate Recovery, God also gave me the strength to overcome this addiction that controlled me since I was 13, as you know.

But along with alcohol, there was also my addiction with prescription narcotic medication. I was still abusing it and felt God speaking to me in a loving way that I needed to stop that ungodly behavior. And again, with the 12 steps in CR and other brothers and sisters in Christ who completely understood having to use drugs to numb pain, God gave me the power to stop using these drugs. He gave me the strength to depend on Him instead. God is the best “medicine” there is. No drug or drink comes even close to what God is capable of doing or the comfort He provides.

I also praise God for revealing to me how I needed to change my sexual impurities. I was still using pornography and was still satisfying myself, even though the Lord had taken away these other addictions I just mentioned. I’m so thankful that God convicted me through my heart that not only using pornography and self-satisfaction is ungodly, but even looking at a woman the wrong way and thinking the wrong thoughts is sin. “But I tell you that anyone who looks at a woman lustfully has already committed adultery with her in his heart.” – Matthew 5:28  Again, through Celebrate Recovery, I was able to share with many godly people what my struggles were with pornography and sexual immorality. I was able to share how I hated it and wanted to be able to control it instead of it controlling me. Once again, God has given me the strength to resist the temptations when they come and look to Him instead of looking at pornography.

What a wonderful tool Celebrate Recovery was in helping me and many other people overcome the hurts, habits, and hang-ups that controlled us for too long. Because of God’s power and mercy these are the anniversaries that I will be celebrating in the weeks ahead:

  • Next month, I’m going to celebrate over 4 years in which GOD has given me the power to overcome my addiction to pornography!
  • God gave me the power to overcome my addiction to nicotine! Next month, I will celebrate 4 ½ years of being a non-smoker!
  • And God gave me the power to overcome my addiction to drugs and alcohol. On June 25th this year, I’m going to celebrate 5 years of being clean and sober. PRAISE GOD!

And that is just the beginning of the blessings that God has bestowed upon me since I recommitted my life and gave it all to Him. My sharing time with you tonight is limited, but I would love to share so much more about what God has brought me through and what God has blessed me with. Feel free to come see me if you would like to talk more! I’d love testify so much more about what God can do!

Lastly, On May 7th 2010, I was diagnosed with the worst stage of one of the worst brain cancers known to man. God carried me through the surgery, the radiation and the chemo, and in May 2012 I was told that the cancer was gone! PRAISE GOD! He also has blessed me with a beautiful godly wife and immediately answered our prayers of having a beautiful healthy baby (who’s due in June!) The list is never-ending and so is God’s love. But God demonstrates His own love toward us, in that while we were yet sinners, Christ died for us. – Romans 5:8