Break Through

(Please listen to Todd’s story by clicking the white play button at the top of this post. You can read the transcript of the story below.)

I was a musician. I did go to college for a while. Ended up dropping out, was a touring musician for a little while. Ended up quitting every band I was in or getting kicked out because of my drug use. Was homeless off and on for 10 years. I’d be homeless for two or three months and then I’d go to treatment or something or get arrested or try to get clean for a little while. I was never able to stay clean for more than one to six months. I think on a few occasions, I had as much as six months trying to do AA or these kinds of these kinds of things.

Fast forward to like my early 30s. I was really just tired. I was exhausted all the time and I hated my life. I couldn’t look at myself in the mirror. I had a lot of physical problems like mersa and skin problems because of the IV drug use the extended IV drug use. Definitely had doctors on multiple occasions telling me that if I continue that we’re gonna have to amputate arms, legs. If it got in my bloodstream, it would get into my heart and that would give me endocarditis, which is like basically an infection on the lining of your heart valve. And that can kill you. I’ve had friends die from that.

I’ve buried a lot of people because of addiction, whether it be through overdose, murder, a lot of other, suicide. A lot of other things. I’ve been shot at, I’ve overdosed. The last experience I had where I almost died was almost five years ago. I was on the tollway. I was heading south and I was high. This person came into my lane just right on top of me. And I had two choices, I could either continue on the course I was on and let them hit me, or swerve and you know at 70-80 miles an hour, you don’t have time to really think. So I swerved to my left. And what I did not notice is that there was a Tahoe in the left lane in my blind spot.

So I successfully dodged the car that would have hit me, but I completely slammed into the Tahoe in the left lane. Put me spin and I hit the median and as soon as I hit the median, I was end over end and my car flipped completely three times and landed upside down and then skid down the tollway probably another 100-200 yards. Soon as the car stopped sliding, I was able to literally just climb right out of the car. I wasn’t pinned in the car, I wasn’t injured. I had a few scratches on my hands because of all the glass exploding. But I literally without any help, climbed right out of the vehicle. EMT takes one look at me, you know he’s shining the flashlight in my eyes, whatever. And he just starts laughing and you know, obviously I don’t think there’s a whole lot that’s funny at this moment. I asked him why he’s laughing and he said, “You don’t even have a concussion.” He’s like, “I don’t really have an explanation. Every time I’ve seen something like this, which is, which is pretty often, someone’s either a vegetable, paralyzed, you know, or dead. And you don’t even have a concussion.” He’s like, you can go home. He’s like, I don’t know what else to say.

I called a bunch of people to come pick me up. At this point in time of my life, pretty much everybody had given up on me. And rightfully so in some ways. I wronged a lot of people, I had stolen from a lot of people, and really just lied and just not been a good family member, son, friend to anyone in a long time.

But the one person that picked up the phone was my friend, who I’d known since I was in high school, my friend Sean. And he had gotten saved about 10 years previous.

I remember when he got saved, initially feeling judgmental about that, because not having any understanding of what that even really meant. But I also remember how different he was, how he was just not the same person at all. How he had gone from being not a good husband to a great husband, not a good father to a great father, not a great provider to a provider. And not to mention just his demeanor, just like the love in his eyes and in his voice and his heart. Like he just, he just, there was no remnant of the person that I knew before.

And as much as I didn’t understand his new belief system, or really even respect it, what I did notice and respect was how different he was. It’s no coincidence that he was the one that answered the phone and he was the one that was willing to come pick me up. Nobody else answered. No one else called back. He immediately picked up. He was like, yeah, I’ll be right there. And it was like, you know, nine or ten at night. I mean, he’s got five kids. I’m sure he had other things to do. But he he was there in about 20 minutes.

Just kind of set the scene there. Were standing in the middle of the tollway on a Friday or Saturday night. I can’t remember if it’s Friday, it was it was definitely a weekend night. I know cars are passing through, traffic backed up about a mile. And him and I are standing in the middle of the tollway next to my totalled vehicle. And he asked if he could pray for me. Now he’d asked this question probably a dozen times before and every single time that he had, I literally said no. And not just no but a but a strong no, Okay? No, don’t touch me no, don’t pray, you know, like, I didn’t want to have anything to do with the Lord.

Because I didn’t know him. As much as he knew me. I didn’t know him. And I definitely didn’t see him in any of the things that I was doing. Which of course I know now that he was there. But he asked if he could pray for me and the Lord, the Lord, opened the door in that moment. And I said, Yeah, yes, you can pray for me. So he laid his hands on me and prayed for me. And there was something that was done in that moment, because over the next week or two, my perspective, my heart, my outlook on the way I was living my life changed radically. I didn’t feel anything in that moment. But the Lord opened my heart up to that prayer in that moment. And he was laughing. Remember when he when he laid his hands on me? He was also laughing He is laughing. He’s like, everyone’s laughing. And I asked him why he was laughing and he said that uh, “Do you not see like the Lord is just the Lord is screaming at you like, bro, look at your car. And you’re just standing here and we’re just standing the middle the tollway and the Lord’s screaming at you like, it’s time. It’s like he’s like he wants you to wake up and he keeps protecting you like is it not? So he could see this clearly and again to me. And I’m in the moment it maybe felt like a coincidence, which of course I know now it’s not.

It got me thinking. About a week or two later, I decided to go to treatment. I’d been to treatment probably a dozen times before, sometimes because I wanted to, some I didn’t have any better options, sometimes because I just wanted to get off the street for a while. But this particular time I actually, I really just was like, Okay, I want to go to treatment. I don’t want to do this anymore.

So I went to treatment, I’d probably been there five to seven days at this point. And I was detoxing from heroin and crack. Heroin specifically you get really physically ill. So I hadn’t slept for probably, I don’t know, four or five days. And I mean, not at all, no sleep. You know, throwing up, you’re sick. You’re sweating, restless legs, restless arms, all that all that nastiness.

I started with drugs early, like 12 or 13 years old. By the time I was about 20 years old, I was strung out on heroin, crack, IV heroin use. And for the next 15 years, it continued to dismantle my life.

So I’m laid out on the couch. And I’m in this room called a sunroom. And they call it the sunroom because it’s a kind of a circular kind of shaped room with these big, you know, floor to ceiling windows. And there’s TV. The TV is on. I still to this day couldn’t tell you what program was on. It definitely was not TBN. And I need to be clear about that, it was not a Christian network. I wouldn’t have been watching your Christian network at that time. But it was just some kind of, you know, background noise. I wasn’t watching it, I was too delirious to really do much of anything, but kind of just sit there dazed. My eyes half-open and it was a very overcast day, one of those really grey kind of days where the sun doesn’t come out at all. It’s just a very dark kind of grey day. And I’m just trying to, hopefully maybe fall asleep or at least feel better for five minutes. That’s not really happening. But I’d probably been in that position on that couch every day for that week, probably for four or five days.

I started thinking about Jesus. Now. Yes, my friend had prayed for me two weeks previous. Yes, I knew who Jesus was. But did I really know who Jesus was? No. Did I really have a reason to start thinking about him? No. But in that moment, I just started thinking about Jesus. And I asked a question that is really common. And I again, I didn’t have any idea of what praying looks like, how to pray. So in my head, not out loud. But in my head, I asked a question which is, which I think people commonly ask when they’re in a dark place, which was, you know, “Jesus, you know, if you’re who you say you are, you have to show me something like, I need to see something.You need to give me some kind of sign that shows me that you’re real, that you are who you say you are. And I’ll listen.” And I’m just thinking this in my head. I’m not praying, I’m not. But I’m just thinking this. And when I’m thinking this two things happen in a few moments. So I’m, as I’m thinking that two things happened.

On the TV, I asked that question, and as I’m asking that question, I honestly remember as I don’t even remember finishing asking the question in my head, it’s like, I’m asking that question. But I haven’t even finished getting that sentence out yet. You know, Lord, if you’re who you say you are. The person on the TV again, this wasn’t like an audible voice of the Lord, it was actually just the person on the TV. For whatever reason, Jesus had been written into the script at that point, because it came out very naturally, whatever this guy was saying in that moment, that was part of it. So it’s just like he was talking. And then he said, “Jesus ” da da da . “Jesus” da da da, and it really stuck out. And the moment it happened, you know, my heart just kind of stopped for half a second. And I’m like, you know, kind of cocked my head to the side. And I’m like, that’s, and again, this is all in my head. I’m like, that’s, that’s kind of weird that that happened while I’m asking this question. And the Lord knew at that point that I was going to be very critical, and it was going to take more than that. So what then happened? And again, this is all in about two seconds, maybe less? I asked that question. I hear the guy say, Jesus on the TV. And then as soon as I start trying to dismiss that in my unbelief. The clouds part. Again, it had been cloudy all day. The clouds part. The sun, breaks through the clouds, and it blinds me. When that happened, my eyes just filled up with tears, not just because the sun was hurting my eyes, because it did hurt my eyes. But there wasn’t, there wasn’t. There was something that happened in that moment, the Lord did something in my heart that has not been undone since then. And it became very clear to me in that moment, just how real Jesus was, how real the Lord was that he was speaking to me in that moment. And that he knew that just that little thing on the TV wasn’t going to be enough. So he actually part of the clouds to show me, here I am. In case you didn’t believe that, here I am. And then as soon as all that happens, and it all went away. So again, it was, I asked the question, hear Jesus on the TV, sun breaks through the clouds, and then it all went away in about two seconds. But what I do know is that was almost five years ago, and that I have never been the same since then. I started reading the Bible the next day. I didn’t have any direction, any mentor or pastor, or anyone to give me direction of what that looks like, I just started reading it.

I started trying to pray, whatever that would look like. I’m sure it wasn’t eloquent at the time. But I just knew, I just knew the truth. And I went from not knowing the Lord at all, not ever having any kind of belief around it to absolutely loving Jesus, and knowing that that’s what I wanted to pursue. Since then, I had one brief, one brief slip with chemicals for maybe a month or two. And then I felt so convicted, that I literally just put it down, I didn’t have to go to treatment, I didn’t have to go to jail, I didn’t have to have some kind of major consequence, I just stopped. And that’s that’s for someone that was addicted for over 23 years. In the last five years, I literally had about a two month period, right, any kind of struggle at all. And even then I felt so convicted, that I just I just put it down, I didn’t need treatment, I didn’t need help. I was able to find Upper Room, the church that I go to now, through some friends of my wife, and that that became my home church. That was the first church I went to as a new believer and as someone who’s been a musician since I was a kid, and you know, was a touring musician, you know, now I am on the worship team there. And I’ve been brought back to the thing that I’m the most passionate about, the thing that I love the most. But now all for His glory. It’s really just it’s one of those things where I can talk about it, and I can recite it. But I constantly find myself when I’m in a trying season, which actually, I’m in right now, going back to this place and just remembering what the Lord did in that moment. You know, over the next three months after that happened, I probably cried at some point every single day for three or four months because there was so many things in my heart the Lord was rearranging, overhauling, if you will, I mean, whatever you want to call it.

I was not someone that was really emotional, but you could ask my wife because she was around when that was happening. We were just dating at the time, but I was I was like the, I swear I was like the female in the relationship. Like I was like, like a song would come on the radio, or we’d be praying or whatever. And I would just start bawling. Like it just it was just one of those things where there was so many things that I’d hardened in my heart to kind of just live the way that I was living that he was just completely dismantling, and has continued to. And I just find myself going back to that place constantly when things get difficult. I don’t know. I’m just I’m just super grateful. I’m super grateful.

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