My name is Tony, and this is my story of a lifelong struggle to find truth, true inner peace and happiness. I eventually found it by not looking at earthly things, but looking at heavenly treasures;
I was playing tennis at state level, doing very well at school and, even as a 16-year-old, enjoyed a good relationship with my parents and family.
A bottle of vodka changed all that.
One night I ran into a school friend. We bought a bottle each and drank the lot. It wasn’t long before I was an alcoholic. And didn’t care. I enjoyed the lifestyle, drinking, taking drugs and chasing girls. I joined a gang, and with my friends I smoked drugs, picked fights with strangers and vandalised everything from cars to schools. And within two months my life was rolling out of control downhill.
I gave up playing tennis: I was always too drunk or hung over to play; my relationship with my family deteriorated; I dropped out of school and I became violent because of the alcohol. But I neither saw nor realised what was happening. All I wanted was to hang out with my friends and party.
After some years of this high life, my health deteriorated badly. This I could see happening, but the partying and drinking was still more important. I believed I was immortal, and nothing would happen to me. I was foolish and blind.
I began work in a strip club, managing the girl strippers, but my drinking problem worsened, boozing seven nights a week, but through the drinking and partying, I yearned for true happiness.
Finally my kidneys gave out and I was taken to hospital. About then, I also noticed my memory was getting bad and I was becoming extremely violent. One morning a man approached me, asking the time. For no reason I turned and started to hit him. Why would I hit a person for simply asking me the time I wondered? The alcohol was turning me into a monster. I was arrested over this incident.
Not long after being released I was back at my old lifestyle but now I also began dealing in drugs and working with other drug dealers and criminals, and started to personally use amphetamines (speed). I would associate with other criminals and bikies regularly, drink continuously for two or three days, going without sleep or food, kept going by the drugs. You can imagine what this does to your body, but I didn’t care!
I began to make a lot of friends in the strip club and brothel scene. When I finished working at the strip club looking after the girls, I started to work at a brothel and also what was called a shooting gallery where people went to use heroin and cocaine. There were many prostitutes that worked there. I witnessed many horrible things during this period, overdoses and people close to death. Numerous people died in that place.
It’s shocking what drugs do to you, not just to your appearance but your behaviour and moods as well. I’ve seen people deteriorate within weeks from heroin use. It’s sad to see a healthy girl, happy and attractive one day and only weeks later, she’s sick and depressed. Drugs and alcohol bring only temporary happiness, but in the end only a flood of sadness and depression.
But for me things got even worse. One evening I went out with a couple of friends. In the early hours of the morning we sat drinking in a cafe. I left for five minutes and by the time I returned, one had been shot in the back of the head. He died later the same morning.
That makes you wonder about life. Death is so near and will come to each of us, sooner or later. But what happens then, I asked myself?
Next I saw my friends begin to turn on each other, even to stabbing and shooting. It was like something from a violent movie. This is absolutely ridiculous, I told myself. All over pride and greed, and I began to see the destructive realities of the lifestyle. Some of my friends were also getting locked up and sent to prison. I didn’t want to head the same way.
Then a friend of some 12 years was also shot and killed. This time in a dance club. By now my eyes had really begun to open and I saw my lifestyle was a dangerous one. But time went on until one morning, after drinking heavily and taking amphetamines, suddenly my right hand went numb. The numbness rose up my arm, then my whole right side went numb. Eventually I couldn’t talk. I was taken to hospital. I was thinking though, repeating to myself, please, God, help me and I will change.
The incident scared me so much, I stopped drinking and taking drugs. I stopped going out all together and it wasn’t long before I slipped into a deep depression. I thought I was suffering withdrawal, and hoped it would pass in a week or so, but after about eight months, I was more empty and depressed than ever.
Now, for the first time in my life, I sat back with a sober mind and looked over my life: What did I have in my life? What is life all about? Is death the end? Why am I here? All these and other questions surfaced.
Deep down I was hurting. I felt lonely, depressed, empty, hopeless, with no sense of peace and without direction or purpose. From the void in my heart, I knew something was missing from my life.
My depression worsened until one morning I fell on my knees next to my bed and really prayed for the first time in my whole life: Dear God, please help me, I pled. I need your help. I’m so unhappy and depressed; please, God, help me. I need you so.
Shortly after this, I was told about a Christian neighbour. I’d never spoken to him before, but now I thought, great, I will go and have a talk with him. I went. I wanted to know what God could do for me.
I heard how God was prepared to forgive my wrongs and be part of my life. This was a great discovery because I didn’t think I was good enough to be saved. I was overwhelmed with excitement when I learned that heaven is real and that Jesus has set me free from my sins and terrible life through His perfect, sinless life and death. All I had to do was reach out and accept His forgiveness and His gift of salvation and heaven. I also learned that I didn’t have to work my way to heaven, which was a great relief. I couldn’t wait to invite Jesus into my heart.
Having asked Jesus to be a part of my life, I went home. I sat, staring at the wall. “Wow” was all I could utter. I had goose bumps all over. Something wonderful has just happened to me.
At last: true joy, peace, security and wonderful hope. For the first time in my life, the pain and loneliness in my heart was gone. I was overwhelmed. Also, in that instant of confession and surrender to Jesus, I was cleansed of any desire for alcohol and drugs. In its place was a flood of joy, peace and hope. I wouldn’t trade that for anything belonging to the world.
It’s been a long journey for me, but these days instead of starting out blindly, I start with a prayer instead. I ask God for wisdom, strength, courage, and guidance throughout the day and to fill me with His peace, joy, love and presence. I ask Him to be my support and shield and to carry me through the day. And I ask myself, how did I ever live without Jesus?
I’d never have believed this change could have occurred in my life, but it has. My life is proof that Jesus forgives us our past and loves us deeply. His love is unconditional and unlimited.
I today have total assurance in my Saviours love and forgiveness and my going to heaven, because I have placed all my trust in Jesus and keep my eyes focused on Him. It is this assurance of going to heaven that I have found in Christ that has truly brought so much peace and happiness into my life.
It was only when I turned away from myself and earthly things and looked towards Jesus that I found true pardon and peace. It was only when I looked towards Jesus that an inner light of joy in my heart ignited. Reader, you can also experience this wonderful joy if you place your eyes upon Him. Nothing in this world will give you true joy but looking to Christ alone.
Deep in my heart I know that Jesus is coming back soon for me to take me to heaven. You can also have this same joy and assurance when you place your trust in Him.
Jesus knows all my faults, and yet I know deep in my heart that He forgives me and loves me anyway. Jesus is the perfect gift. He is my best friend, and He can be yours, too.
[Matthew 6:33] But seek first his kingdom and his righteousness, and all these things will be given to you as well.
I have realised that every person that has ever been born has a void and hole in their heart and life. This void and emptiness needs to be filled to find any true peace, joy and hope. Nothing this world has to offer can fill that spot in our hearts. No amount of money, gambling, entertainment, success, drugs, alcohol, can fill it, but Jesus alone. It’s a God-shaped keyhole.
Special Message: As a result of all the years of alcohol and drug abuse I now have permanent brain damage. I live each day with paranoia and have been diagnosed with bipolar mood disorder and it’s very difficult to function and I do not have a normal life anymore, as I am very isolated and also have post traumatic stress disorder. So I plead with you, believe someone who has been there and done that, especially the younger people reading this, do not ever get involved with gangs, bikies, drugs and alcohol as it will destroy your future life and give you brain illness that stops you from being able to live a healthy and normal life. And each day you live in mental torment and have severe mood swings. But thank God, I now have hope in Jesus that he will return soon to give me a new body, a new healthy mind and eternal life in heaven.
With Warm Christian Love,
Image by GKR