Step 2 – My Redeemer Lives!

Step 2“Well I knoooooow my Redeemer lives!” I inhale the stale air in my Pontiac Fiero so I can bellow the next lines along with Nicole C. Mullen as she blows my tiny speakers with her powerhouse lyrics. “I know my Redeemer lives. All of creation testifies…This life within me cries. I know….my Redeemer lives.”

It’s 2001. I believe my life is calming down and things will be “normal” again. School is over. My students have disappeared and I am pulling out of the parking lot. Leaving early for a change. The afternoon is too perfect to stay indoors, grading papers. Texas weather will surprise you like that. Even in wintertime.

This song has become my personal anthem after surviving the shock of discovering my spouse’s life-threatening chemical dependency and subsequent stint in a rehabilitation center. I sing it LOUD, lifting both hands to heaven in an unrehearsed act of worship… “I know that, I know that, I know that, I know that, I know…I know my Redeemer lives…Because He lives I can face tomorrow. He lives, I know, I know, I know. He lives…I spoke with Him this morning.”

That was thirteen years ago. Almost everything in my life has changed. New work (I’m no longer queen of my own classroom, but flit from school to school in our county as a substitute teacher), new husband (God redeemed the things I thought were lost after my first husband chose a path that led him away from our marriage), and a new passion for sharing hope with hearts wounded by addiction. Yes. A lot has changed, but there is one constant. One never ending consistent, prevailing thing that I KNOW today, knew yesterday and will firmly believe until I see Him face-to-face: My Redeemer lives!

After years of riding shotgun on the insane train of cocaine addiction, I felt a little crazy myself. The patterns of hiding, covering, enabling, and codependent-controlling left me in need of my own recovery program. That’s when I began consciously applying Step 2 to my own life, rather than simply pointing the finger of blame at the “addict” in the family.

It goes like this: “We came to believe that a Power greater than ourselves could restore us to sanity.”

God, are You able to restore me in the midst of this crazy? Can I truly be sane, regardless of the choices he makes? I prayed and plead with the Jesus I’d known since childhood as season after season, hope after hope came and went.

“Yes.” His answer came quietly. “I can. Are you willing to let go of control and let me?”

It took a long time. And some cash I didn’t really have. But, God used a kind Christian counselor to hold up the mirror and invite me to take an unflinching look at myself. I got it. I learned how to hold the hand of the One who would walk me through the minefield that is living with an addicted person. I learned to trust Him more than I ever had. I learned to release the shame that accompanies the fear of exposure when a Christian family suffers a secret like that.

Today, I search the faces of people in pews and I see that once-familiar pain. They come to church, week after week, longing for some kind of relief from the hell they are suffering. I want to take them by the hand, tilt their chins upward and say, “Lift up thine eyes to the Fall Mums 2hills, from whence cometh thy help. Your help cometh from the LORD, which made heaven and earth” (see Psalm 121:1 KJV). I long for them, for you, for all of us, to know – beyond every shadow of doubt, “Our Redeemer lives!” He only is the Power greater than ourselves who can restore us to sanity. Whether we are the addicted person, or the person who loves the addicted person, it is only our Redeemer who can give us HOPE and the tools to walk through this valley that feels like the shadow of death. May I invite you sing along with me?

 

He lives…to take away my shame

And He lives…forever I’ll proclaim

That the payment for my sin

Was the precious life He gave

But now He’s alive and there’s an empty grave!

And I know – My Redeemer lives!

Here are two links to this song on You tube.

The first is Nicole C. Mullen’s official video. It is beautiful. http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=mj-pZQ_XjyU

The second is my favorite because it demonstrates so beautifully the Father’s love for His children. We are as weak and helpless as that well-loved son. Our Father carries us. http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=rF7Bv9Rjl0E

Sanity Restored – One Man’s Story

“Came to believe that a Power greater than ourselves could restore us to sanity.” That’s Step 2. It’s a faith step. It means that I realize there’s Someone bigger than me who can sort out my mess and restore my life.

For some of us, raised in Christian homes, that Power is the God of our childhoods – the One who has been with us all along, wooing our hearts in gentle, often-unnoticed ways. For others, with not-so-good childhood images of God, He is not the judging, condemning, angry God of our fathers, but an altogether more personal, intimate, gracious Friend – Someone who understands our story and longs to be the biggest part of it. When we discovery Him and His power to restore – we become a new creation. We are transformed!

That’s the story I want to share with you today – a story of transformation. It’s not my story, but that of a high school classmate. Back in the day, we called him “Pete.” Pete was loud, funny, and one of those “cool” guys who made life on our tiny campus interesting.

I didn’t know him well. Didn’t stay in touch after graduation. Didn’t see him for twenty years. But when I returned for our class reunion in 2008, it only took one glimpse of his face for me to know the lifestyle he’d been living since school. Being newly single, after watching my spouse destroy our marriage with substance abuse, I recognized all the signs. They are burned into my brain. It hurt to talk with Pete; hurt to witness the life path he had chosen.

A couple of weeks ago, I heard from him again. “Juliet, this is Petros Colla. I’d love to share my story with you.

After listening to what God has done in his life, I invited Petros to write a guest post for this blog. I want to share his story to give my readers hope for their loved ones, (or for themselves). It’s devastating to pray and plead for years, only to watch addiction cycle through a loved one’s life over and over and over again. When there’s a story of someone jumping off the crazy train, I want to share it! Here’s the story of Petros, my high school classmate and friend:

In May of this year my life changed! Five weeks prior to May 8, 2014, I was on my deck having a phone conversation with my sister, Nena, explaining to her that she should write me off. I was done! My street lifestyle and drug addiction had consumed me.

I can’t shake it,” I told her. “I’m not gonna change. Even God can’t help me because my heart is too hardened. I can’t feel anything anymore and I don’t care if I live or die. I love you Nena.”

Then God moved.

On May 8, 2014 I gave someone a ride to sell drugs. I had been involved in the drug culture for years, going from drug dealer to drug addict junkie. The person I was with was arrested and charged with three felony drug charges.

So was I. I faced three to twenty-five years in Federal or State prison. As I waited to see the magistrate, right there in Eastern Regional County Jail, I cried out to God. At that instant I turned my will and my life over to Him. The testimony that follows shows me that God keeps His Jeremiah 33:3 promise ~ to ME!

Jeremiah 333 Meme I already had two different court cases pending. One was a traffic violation, driving on a suspended license for the fourth time. The consequence for that was a minimum of one year in jail. The second, a criminal case, was for drug possession that could land me many years behind bars.

Upon my release from jail, I went to church and heard the ministry regarding the power of prayer by Jerry and Janet Page. I applied that teaching to my life and asked my friend Joe to be my prayer partner. We began to pray together daily – that I stay a free man, amongst other prayer requests and praises.

Because of my criminal record I was looking at being charged on the Federal level. You see, I have many other state drug convictions on my record. If my case went Federal, because of my background I was looking at up fifteen years in Federal prison.

I am a FREE man today ONLY BECAUSE OF THE POWER OF DAILY PRAYER! Two of my court cases have been resolved and my next court date is in November. I am looking at a light sentence with no incarceration! PRAISE GOD! No one and nothing in this universe can tell me any different – I am free because of my God’s mercy! I turn my will and life over to Him DAILY.

I’ve tried different ways to stop getting high over the past twenty-eight years. I’ve been to three rehabs and to counseling. The only way I have over six months clean time (drug free) is because of the power of intercessory prayer. This is the longest period of freedom in my life. I give my Heavenly Father all the praise and glory! He truly walks with me and talks with me and calls me His own!

I want to encourage everyone – if you are seeking answers in your life, get a daily prayer partner. God spells it out in Jeremiah 33:3, “Call to Me and I will answer you…”

Petros’ story is a story of hope for all of us. It’s the story of someone who took God at His word and believed that He was the only Power great enough to restore him to sanity. I’m so grateful to be able to share this with you as we look at Step 2 in our series on the Twelve Steps. If you are praying for someone and are struggling with your faith, keep believing. Petros’ family prayed him through twenty-eight years of addiction. It was only when he realized his powerlessness and daily sought the power of One greater than himself, that God was able to restore his sanity.

Petros is now sharing his story of hope through the spoken word in poetry form. Below is his most recent poem. After watching him (via social media) share this prayer/poem with an audience this weekend, my faith is strengthened. God truly redeems the lives we thought were lost.

A Once Broken Man

Once a broken man, You heard me tell Nena,

“I am so gone, God can’t even help me.”

I love you Nena, but from this street life and drug addiction,

I can’t break free!

Five weeks later, May 8, 2014 –

with my hardened heart,

You brought me to my knees.

Lost and alone, forgotten how to pray,

I cried out in jail, “God help me please!”

To me, you have kept your promise in Jeremiah 33:3.

And your grace kept me alive to see,

My God is MERCY.

Greatest lie I ever believed,

of Your love I was no longer worthy.

Through daily surrender and reading,

You sent this junkie free.

Because of the power of intercessory prayer,

today I am not in federal prison.

Because of the power of intercessory prayer,

of my shame and guilt, I am forgiven.

For so many years I was filled with anger,

which I passed on to others.

Your forgiveness replaced angry with love,

now I called and my sisters and brothers.

My God is FORGIVENESS.

I came to you just as I was, a broken man.

My daily guide is Your Son’s nail scarred hands.

When I spoke, I used to take Your precious name in vain.

Now I use it to call on You to help me stay sane.

Today I no longer sling doubt.

I tell of my Savior’s mercy, forgiveness, and hope.

My God is HOPE.

During my drug feel days, I still heard your voice.

Your love saved me after continually making the wrong choice.

I praise Your name daily for the unconditional love You show me.

Once imaginable thoughts are now answers to prayer.

That’s my ministry.

You take the time to show me better than You can tell me.

That’s why with you I stand.

My God is LOVE.

Lost in a drug-filled haze is where the devil had my soul.

The greater miracle is how my God makes me whole.

The best part of my day is when You and I talk.

Today I have no fear because it is with You and I walk.

Joe and I prayed together daily, asking that You remember us in that final call.

Your mercy, forgiveness, hope, love, and strength is what he and I share with all.

My God is ALMIGHTY.

Heavenly Father, my body is weary

no longer on this earth do I wish to roam.

It is my prayer that you use me to finish your work.

I want to come home.

I praise your name for two parents who prayed for me –

without ceasing, for 28 years.

I praise your name Almighty God,

because You want wiped away my guilt-filled tears.

You have kept me alive

long enough to reveal to me, the beauty of Your plan.

I give you all the glory

for the miracle that I stand before you,

a once broken man.

My God is the ALPHA and the OMEGA.

Petros Colla
10-18-14

Petros Colla & Friends

My prayer partner Joe (far left), Pastor David (center) and me (Petros – far right) at Maryland Men Of Faith conference this year.
Petros Colla writes from Hagerstown, Maryland. Raised by Christian parents, he chose a street life for twenty-eight years. It is only because of God’s grace that he lives to turn his will and life over to Him daily. Through the power of prayer, Petros has been drug-free for six months.