Monday, July 18, 2011

Invincible - Mike's Story Part 3

This is part 3 of a series I've been posting about a guy we're calling "Mike".  Mike's story is amazing to me - especially knowing who the real Mike is!  I cannot wait to introduce you to him!  

In two weeks, Mike's story will reveal who he is.

As I've worked with him in writing his story, I've been reminded once again how much I take people at face value.  I've known Mike since he met his wife and had no idea what all he had been through!  His testimony, like Eve's, is of modern day redemption!   Mike is living proof that God has a plan for all of us - no matter who we are or what we've done.  God's desire is to give us all a life full of abundant peace, joy and purpose.

If you know anyone who is living a life much like Mike describes below, please share this story with them!

Invincible - Part 3

I left for college, fully intent on becoming a Physical Therapist, but it didn’t take long for me to learn there was something I was better at than that part of the medical field.  As I said before, I was good at all the wrong things, but at college I realized I was great at all the wrong things. 

I started seeing the quality of my friends decline, but I didn’t care.  I didn’t care about them or myself.   It was time to party!   One night in particular stands out in my mind.  Someone had given me a challenge and I had something to prove, “What do you mean I can’t drink this bottle down?  I’ve been bonging vodka and whiskey all night while you sip that beer!”  I thought I was so cool… so tough.  These guys had nothin’ on me!  “Bring me another fifth!”  I tossed an empty bottle aside, “One only gets me warm and fuzzy.”   As the night went on, my vision not only blurred – it disappeared altogether.  That was the first time of many to follow that I went blind from drinking so much.  I don’t know why, but it would happen some times when I really drank a lot.  

Faster... faster... faster... more... more... more!  I’m searching for something, I want something, no, maybe everything!  Give it all to me!  I just couldn’t get enough.   Aw, come on, my truck only tops out at 130 miles per hour?  This isn’t fast enough!  I know, I’ll see how fast I can go around that curve.  Okay, that was a good rush!  How can I drive so good when I’m drunk?  I don’t know.   Here come some headlights, I’ll drive right at them and see what happens.  Yup, that was a rush!  I love it!  I think my heart’s coming out of my chest! 

But I needed more!  Alcohol on its own, just wasn’t enough anymore.

I hardly ever let anyone see this, but I look back, and realize that even as a kid I was like that – looking for a rush.  I would try things just to see if I could do it, but not if someone else was around – I was afraid of what they would think. I lived like that for years almost as though two people lived in one body.  The good Christian boy when I needed to be and the nothing can satisfy me sinner when I wanted to feel alive or maybe when I felt like I had to feel that rush.

As a kid, I remember climbing bins every day and each day jumping off one rung higher until I ran out of rungs.  My legs would just collapse when I hit the ground.  Another time I jumped from the top of one bin to another.  And then there was the time I climbed up three stories on the narrow side of a two by four.  I loved the excitement that would surge through my body, and was always looking for more.  

Now here in college, it was no exception.  I was on a constant mission for the next high.  With alcohol leaving me still wanting more, I started experimenting with drugs.  It didn’t take long before it wasn’t an experiment anymore and this too became a way of life - or maybe a suspended death.  I didn’t care about anything or anyone, including myself.   Someone would say, “You can’t drink that much” or other times, “Dude, you shouldn’t snort all that”.

“Double it!”  I would respond.   I was always surprised at how some people couldn’t handle drugs and alcohol.  I learned that when I felt like I couldn’t take anymore, if I made myself throw up, I could keep right on going!  It was a thrill to see what would happen, not knowing the outcome - even if it meant death.   I guess that’s what happens when you just don’t care.   

I got myself into worse and worse situations.  Let’s just say, I’ve looked at the wrong end of a gun more times than I want to remember.  One time that comes to mind, I was in a basement and I was pretty sure I was not going to make it out alive from a drug deal gone bad.   Then there was the time someone pulled a gun on me and I dared him to shoot.  I walked up to him, stretched my arms out to the side baring my chest and invited him to “pull the trigger”.  He didn’t.  Instead he ran off with his buddies to a nearby gas station. 

He wasn't aware of it, but I followed him.  As the he and his friends came out of the store and I grabbed the guy and pinned him to the wall.  I began choking him and I could see the realization in his eyes that he knew his life was in my hands and that he could feel it slipping away from him and he couldn’t do anything to stop it.  It was the ultimate rush and I loved it.   I controlled life and death face to face.  I’m not sure why his friends didn’t do anything to help him, they just stood there.  Thank God I finally put him down.  I remember listening to him gasping for breath as I bent down and whispered in his ear that if he ever pulled a gun on me again he better pull the trigger or I would take it away from him and kill him with it.  Then I just stood up and walked back to my truck and drove away. 

I just didn’t care! 

I felt like I was indestructible.  I got this feeling from Satan, I’m sure of it.  Most people start selling drugs just to pay for their own, and I’m sure that was part of it, but I liked the power, the control and the thrill of doing it.  I soon figured out that I was great at this too! 

The quality of my friends continued to decline.  One of them was facing forty to life for seven counts of attempted murder and several other felonies.  Another had just beaten his first investigation in which he was moving $30,000 of drugs every month.  Still another got busted as a repeat offender and ended up serving his time in Jackson.  Several of them were constantly in and out of jail.  One of my roommates decided to go to California and I found out later that they found his car - but they never found him. 

I cared so little that one day when I was shorted by ten dollars, I got angry!  This wasn’t acceptable!  So, I grabbed a buddy and we went to find the culprit.  I had a little machine gun and I had every intention of getting my money - one way or another.   I shake my head now in disbelief.  All over ten dollars (tell me that’s not Satan)! 

Still I continued to search for that next high – that next rush.  Several times when I was driving, I would slowly drift into the other lane to see what would happen – hoping to feel that excitement pulse through my veins!  One day while driving down the highway, I decided to close my eyes and see how long I could keep them closed.  I challenged myself to see if I could make it farther than the time before – without hitting anything – or anybody.  Other times, I would come to blind intersections and never stop or slow down, I would just gun it.

I thank God every day that I never hurt any of the people I forced off the road - especially now that I have a family of my own.  I can’t imagine how I could have done that!  Thank God he spared not only me but everyone who could have been hurt or killed. 

By this time I was so full of sin that people I used to know would comment about how different I looked and acted.   I believe my sin affected me on the outside as well as the inside.  Because of how I was raised, I knew what I had become and I accepted it, even asked for more.  But, through all of this, God never turned his back on me as I did to Him!  I remember battling with Him on many sleepless nights.  Through it all, He continued to reach out to me. 

I know it sounds funny.  I’ve tried to explain it to my wife even though I don’t fully understand it myself, but God continued to try so show me visions with a promise of a better life.  He was offering me a life with Him and I could see my wife (even though I didn’t know her at the time) that He was promising me.   He constantly would reveal to me what He had for me if I would just give up the control and give my life to Him.

I was at my Grandpa’s funeral when I saw her for the first time.  I find it ironic really – sitting there mourning the loss of my grandpa… contemplating death, when the promise of life walked into the room.  The instant I saw her, I recognized her – she was the woman from my dreams – literally!  I knew instantly she was the “promise” God had for me. 

Now I had a choice to make – would I choose life?  Or continue on this fast track towards death?

1 comment:

Sandy Schwartz said...

I couldn't help but think of "Mike's" parents when I read this. He says he grew up in a christian home and my heart weeps for the worry and fears they must've felt - even if they didn't know the details of his life, as parents, they knew he wasn't living a Godly life! As I read this I saw a picture of his parents whispering "Mike's" name in prayer as they interceded on his behalf, over and over again. As a parent I rejoice with them too, knowing this is a story of redemption, right? Don't let me down Lynette. I want a happy ending here!! :)