It’s not always easy to look back at our life, at the Sodom & Gomora we came from and left behind. We do not, like Lot’s wife want to turn into salt, but after a while, it becomes absolutely necessary to look back. It is a chance to once again stand in awe of the miracle God did for us, turning our mess into a message, our test into our testimony.
My life started out very normal. I come from a small town, was raised by very religious, God fearing parents, strict and conservative but providing and loving and, in my eyes, close to perfect. So where did it go wrong? I always had a very adventurous nature, I am a true extrovert in every sense and I was an A-list, very well-liked, popular student, doing everything from arts and culture to every kind of sport there was to offer. All this led to temptations and I liked feeding my natural human urges, thriving on impressing people. I indulged in everything that the world deemed cool and fun. I ended up like many teens, drinking and smoking, etc. It was never enough, I always had to go further than the others as I was the cool kid on the block. By the time I was 18 I have experimented with numerous drugs and bad deeds. The world made this out as normal but I now know it was an absolute lie from the pit of hell and a massive attack on the youth, disguised as “being young and just having some fun”.
After finishing high school I set off to England intent on making some money and having fun doing everything I wanted to do. Eventually the plan was to join the Marine Core, a lifelong dream I had (for all the wrong reasons). I ended up doing it all and getting accepted to the Marines just to get into a fight that same night and going to jail for a year, rather than being in the military. With this came along my first real taste of disappointment, which became one of my many excuses for what I did later.
Upon arriving back from England, with nothing except some construction experience, I soon returned to all sorts of things (all wrong) and without me realising it, it was all growing worse. By the time I was 22 I lost my long-term girlfriend (yet more disappointment) because of my bad habits. By now I was already an alcoholic but I did not understand it because it was labelled by the world as “being young and just having some fun”. Within a year my dad fell mentally ill, me not knowing how to cope with this, therefore I used it as yet another excuse for being what I was and became. I started isolating myself without knowing it. I didn’t visit my parents anymore, I relocated and started living on my own. Six months later my dad committed suicide and then I had my biggest reason for going off the rails completely. Fact is, if you look for reasons to validate sin the devil will provide them in truck loads and the world will act understandingly, although it is all so wrong and untrue and so contradicting to what we read in the Word of God.
For we are in this world but not from this world (John 17: 14-16)
From then onwards it was all downhill and the attack on my life grew by the day. My isolation and habits only connected me to trouble. Before I knew it, I was working for a crime syndicate. I was, as the organised crime unit described it, a mobster. I was earning money by sinning – I was a true slave to sin. I was running everything from drugs to casinos and brothels. Not only was I sinning but I was providing a means for others to sin, ruining lives, families, marriages and homes.
Then, what I believe today was a life line from God, I met my future wife at one of our bogus restaurants. Three months later she was pregnant and we were now banded together and things started changing BUT not for the better. I managed to get out of the job and I married her but it placed more and more pressure on us. My bad habits did not stay behind with my old job, I was now back in construction but working in Johannesburg, even closer to all my contacts and was still doing (using & dealing) about 50 – 60g of cocaine a month. Sometimes I did not even make it home and just stayed in Johannesburg the whole night, dealing drugs. I knew it was wrong. We fought against this addiction – I often had the best intensions to stop, only to return weeks later. All my habits grew more and more out of control. It forced me to get an implant that would trigger a reaction if I took anything and that potentially could kill me.
It went okay for 3 months but I relapsed because I still did not believe that I had a problem. How could I be a junkie if I still had money, a house, I only used expensive drugs and only drank expensive whiskey? I mean to say, the worldly depiction of a junkie is someone who is down and out, has nothing and usually lives on the street. Right? NO! wrong! I was a junkie, well on my way to losing everything. I then got another implant and thought I’ll show them that I will pick myself up. This should be a breeze because there wasn’t really anything wrong with me; I was still just “being young and just having some fun”. Fact is, I was now 30 and had a wife and a child’s life in my irresponsible hands. Irrespective of this I could not stop these habits, it was seemingly impossible. All of this was leaving a phycological wake of destruction in our lives.
However bad all of this sounds up to this point, something else was about to happen. My wife started going to church again and she invited the glory of God into our house. She became a carrier of His glory and it started showing but the devil hated this and stepped up his attack. It resulted in me one night almost slitting my wife’s throat with a machete after she confronted me again about my habits. The evil presence in me at the time felt so threatened that it physically started to manifest as demons. This plan by the devil was neutralised as my wife did not give up, she stayed on her knees before God and kept at it, praying for me. Sadly I also persevered with my bad habits. However, I could not deny what was happening and the love that I was receiving despite what I was doing.
I came to the realisation that I was at the end of my rope, feeling like hanging myself. Through God’s grace, as I came close to the end of my rope, He entered my life and showed me His plan for my life. His approach was the most appropriate one. He never forced me to do anything, because then I would have experienced it as just being another slave to another boss. He is love and as it says in Revelation 3:20 He stands and knocks at the door of your heart, it is up to you to open and if you do, He will come in and have a feast with you. He sent people from church to invite me along to an Encounter weekend. I remember thinking: this is the last try, if this does not work I will end it all. I remember sitting there thinking: “what am I doing here?” But it was no coincidence, it was a GOD-incidence and I was exactly where He wanted me to be that night. I heard them reading a familiar passage from the Bible but this time it was tailor made for me. It was from Luke 15: 11 – the story of the prodigal son. At the current stage of my life I saw myself in verse 16 thinking that I am so soul hungry I would gladly eat the pigs’ food but then came verse 17:
“Then he (I) came to his (MY) senses!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!! and said ‘how many of my Father’s hired men have more than enough to eat, while I am dying here of hunger. I will (immediately) get up and go to my Father and tell Him, Father I have sinned against heaven and in Your sight, I am no longer worthy to be called Your son; treat me like one of Your hired men.’ So, he got up and came to his Father. But while he was still a long way off, his Father saw him and was moved with compassion for him, and He ran and embraced him and kissed him. And the son said to Him, ‘Father, I have sinned against heaven and in Your sight; I am no longer worthy to be called Your son.’ But the Father said to His servants: ‘quickly bring out the best robe and put it on him, and give him a ring for his hand, and sandals for his feet and bring the fattened calf and slaughter it, and let us have a feast and celebrate for this son of mine was dead and is alive again, was lost and has been found.’ So, they began to celebrate.”
You see, all this time God was waiting for me to come home as He was waiting for me. I know He is waiting for you because He does not care who, what, where we are. In Acts 10: 34 the Word says God is not a respecter of person; anyone who calls Him and does what is right and acceptable, He will accept. What He has done for me He will do for you, He is just waiting for you to take that first small step of faith and to come stumbling back so He can run and grab you and put your spirit back in the Kingdom of light. (Colossians 1: 13)
He is not mad at you, my brother and sister (Isaiah 54: 9 and Numbers 23: 19). He is not waiting for you to punish you; this is a lie from the enemy! Jesus died in our place, He bore all the punishment for every sin ever committed and everything that will still be committed, no matter how big or small. He purchased us with His precious blood. Saying God wants to punish you is as good as saying Jesus did not endure enough pain for our lives!!!!
NOOOOOO, God is waiting for you to come home so He can put your robe on and cover you with His love. All your shame and the bruises and scars the world has left on you He wants to cover and heal them in His perfect love for you (1 John 4: 18).
He wants to put a ring on you hand as a sign that He is giving back your authority that you wasted like Adam in the garden of Eden; He wants to give it back to you because it cost Him His only begotten Son to buy it back (John 3:16). He wants you to rule again over everything, all sin, all the earth, as is His will. (Genesis 1: 26)
My brother and sister, He wants to put back shoes on your feet. You see, in those days only slaves walked bare foot and you are NOT a slave but you have received His Spirit that makes you a child of God, one that makes you yell out, “ABBA!” This means Father (Romans 8:15). He loves you just the way you are but He loves you too much to leave you the way you are! You are His child and nothing but nothing will ever change that. All the lies and accusations against you is a way for the devil to make you feel unworthy, but when God looks at you He looks at you through the powerful and cleansing Blood of the Lamb, Jesus Christ, our High Priest sitting at the right hand of God and leaving no place for the devil. His Blood sets you free.
After reading this, I hope you are excited and eager to get home, back to the King, your Father. With your new or renewed salvation there will be trials and tribulations, believe me.
The very next Monday, back at work, all the drug dealers, liquor stores and cigarettes had not magically disappeared but, with the help of the Holy Spirit, I could say no; no more! I believed that I had been set free because whoever the Son sets free is free indeed (John 8:36). I enforced my stand against these attacks with an uncompromised devotional life, studying the Word of God, (I started with the book of Romans). I was getting to know Him and His character and His will for me personally, strengthening my own faith by praying constantly, surrounding myself with people who serve Jesus. Whenever the enemy came knocking, and believe me, he will and still does from time to time, in my case because he cannot stand this which is happening, I take a stand and remind him of the future pit of hell he will go to. We should tell the devil about our future in Christ (Jeremiah 29:11) and that God does not even remember our passed trespasses (Psalm 103:12 and Micah 7:19). He will instead even give you back all the time you have lost (Joel 2:25-26) exactly like He did for me. Today I have a rock solid marriage and my wife and I love each other so dearly, we give each other back all the lost love and by God’s power and Spirit now living in me and guiding me, I am learning how to love and be the man God intended me to be to my wife (Ephesians 5:25) and in my life (Romans 12) and how to be a father to my child. I can assure you that my child does not and will not believe or even remember who I used to be, for I am a new creation (2 Corinthians 5:17). You could be a new creation too! Don’t be discouraged if you fall once or twice for His grace is enough and new every morning. Like Paul says we, simply have to repent daily.
And now to Him who is able to do superabundantly more than all we dare ask or think, according to His power that is at work within us, to Him be the glory in the church and in Christ Jesus throughout all generations forever and ever. Amen (Ephesians 3:20-21)
Nolan du Toit