I was born and raised on a farm in Illinois. Although it may sound impossible, I grew up without any knowledge of church, GOD, or JESUS. All I knew about church was that you go there to get married. The only time I heard the name of GOD or JESUS was in cursing. We grew up receiving a sip of beer every now and then from dad. But, I started serious drinking at the age of thirteen. At first the purpose was probably to "fit in" but before long it was a way of escape. All through my high school years it was either drinking or anticipating the next party. With those years coming to a close and wanting the party to continue, I joined the military. I signed up for a six year term in the U.S. Navy. The day I left for basic training was the first time I had ever been in an airport. I was a little bewildered and when a man in a suit offered me a little red book, I took it and was on my way. Off and on throughout my time in the navy, I would take out that book and try to read some of it. It just never made any sense to me. My drinking took over and I spiraled out of control. That is the only way I can describe it. One night I was in an auto wreck and hospitalized. The next day my blood alcohol level was still .285. A doctor informed me that I should have been dead. They could only estimate but said my alcohol level the day before had to have been high enough to kill. After a week in the hospital, I was released and sent to an Alcoholics Anonymous program. The reality though was that I didn't want to quit drinking. One thing did affect me in the meetings and that was the serenity prayer. The prayer itself did nothing for me but I did open that little red book more and more.
Being a member of the navy means extended periods of time spent on the ocean and away from alcohol. That was really tough so I had to have something in place of the booze. I took up running because you are limited in what you can do on a ship. When I ran the need for the alcohol was gone until the ship entered a port. Then I would drink like never before. After my enlistment was up, I moved back home. I really had no direction in life but one day I received a job offer. It was better than I had ever dreamed of. I accepted the job and moved to Virginia. I poured myself into the job that I absolutely loved. I cut back on the drinking and only got drunk probably three or four times a week. I ran more and more to stay away from the booze and even got good enough to run in races. I won many ribbons, trophies, etc. and even trained and ran a marathon. It seemed like my life was coming together! I started having problems when I ran and finally, after many tests, the doctor said I had a heart condition. My days of competing were over and my running stopped. I poured myself even more into my job. It was really the only thing, besides alcohol, that I cared anything about. Shortly after that, I went to work and was informed the company was making deep cutbacks. I, along with many others, lost my job. The only way to describe it is that I was absolutely devastated. I moved back to Illinois, bummed around, and drank heavily. One night I met a woman in a bar. We quickly fell in love and were married at the courthouse. She came with two young girls from a previous marriage. I set my mind to being a good family man and raising those girls. Rachelle attended church and tried many times to get me to go with her. I wanted no part of it! My family was my purpose in life and drinking filled what was left. Every Sunday morning, I would stay in bed while she took the kids and went to church. It seemed like we had a happy life but something was still wrong. It seemed that Rachelle was happy but my happiness had faded away. I couldn't see why and it made me mad. I became very depressed and blamed everyone around me for my unhappiness. One evening things came to a head. Rachelle said we could not go on the way we were. She said the reason I was so miserable was that I was going to hell. I felt as though my world was falling apart yet again. I just didn't want to go through anymore and decided I would end my life. That night I didn't get much sleep as I planned my suicide. The next morning I went to see my mom and dad for the last time. I am sure they had no idea and I don't even know why I went. After a short visit with each of them, I headed home to end my life. I was about five miles from home when it happened. To this day I can't explain it but it was a soft voice that touched me. It said "what are you doing?" That was followed by " here I am it's going to be ok". I immediately asked JESUS for forgiveness and for the first time in my entire life an unimaginable peace came over me. I was baptized a few weeks later! You see, even though I didn't realize it at the time, those times of reading that little red book had saved my life. It had pointed me to the answer even before I had the question. I started to read that book more and it amazed me that it actually made sense to me. That is how I was saved from suicide. Looking back, I think I must have been a little more difficult than most. I think of all the things I tried to fill my life with and all the people it took to show me the Way. Sometimes, I wonder what if GOD had not sent that Gideon with that red book to the airport at that time? Sometimes, I wonder what if some church somewhere didn't give them the money to buy that book? Sometimes, I wonder what if a wonderful woman hadn't loved me enough to tell me I was headed to hell? Sometimes, I wonder what if Jesus hadn't cared enough to die for me and stopped me from killing myself? You see without that church supplying the money to buy that book, without that man stopping to give me the Bible, without a woman showing me the power of that book, and without Jesus intervening, I would be dead and in hell! If you feel that you are at the end of your rope and have no reason to live, you can still push the RESET BUTTON on your life. Thanks to God's grace, through Jesus, you can start again!