God, Help Me! I Can’t Quit"God help me! Please don’t let me die. I’m not ready.”
Lying on my bed, desperate and shaking with fear, I knew I was dying. And if I died, I knew I’d go to hell. Earlier that night, I swallowed drugs I had never taken before mixed with alcohol and they plunged me into a living nightmare.
For weeks, I’d been discontent with my life and the choices I had made. At only 17 years old, I’d tried much of what the world said would fulfill me. But it never did. Every high had a low, and every low just got lower.
I tried to change myself. I thought, if I can just straighten up my life, God will love me. One night, determined not to go out and party with my friends, I stayed home with my mother and sister and watched the 1970s drama, “Dallas.” The show just reinforced the lie that a little more money, sex and drugs would satisfy me, but I knew it wouldn’t. There had to be something more.
I had enough of a religious background to know I needed God. I just didn’t know how to clean up my life enough to earn His love. I visited my childhood church but came away feeling emptier than ever. Before long, I was back to drinking and drugs, until the night I almost died.
As the drugs and alcohol took effect, I became sleepier and sleepier. Somehow, I knew if I fell asleep, I’d never wake up. I’d lost several friends to drug overdoses, so I knew it could happen.
“It’s not fair, God,” I said. “I want to quit. I want to change, but I can’t do it by myself. Please change me.”
God, in His mercy, spared my life that night. I awoke the next morning with only a dim memory of my terrifying experience. When friends came by looking for drugs, I went with them. We were sitting on a brick wall on a street corner when Jolene, a lady selling copies of the World Book Encyclopedia, walked up to us. She was looking for families with children, so we sent her off down the road. She walked away, then turned and came back.
“I feel led by the Lord to speak to you guys,” she said and she began to tell us her story.
“Six months ago, my husband and I were using drugs and alcohol. Our marriage was falling apart. He was packing his bags to leave when someone knocked on the door. This man from the church shared with us how Christ had changed his life. He said Jesus could do the same for us.”
“When we prayed to receive Christ as our Savior,” she said, “God began to change us. He took away our desire for drugs and alcohol. Now, I drink as much as I want to—but I don’t want to.”
When Jolene said the words, “God began to change us,” my whole body began to tingle. Memories from the night before flashed across my mind. “God,” I’d cried, “I want to change, but I can’t do it by myself.” Overwhelmed with emotion, I realized that the God of the universe had answered my prayer.
Then Jolene stopped. Until now, she’d been talking to us as a group, five long-haired, pot-smoking hippies, but now, she paused and singled me out. “You’re under conviction,” she said. “I can tell. God wants to save you today.”
She explained how mankind has sinned and fallen short of God’s standard. Because we couldn’t pay the punishment for our own sin, God sent Jesus, the sinless God-man, to suffer and die in our place. “If you’re willing to confess and repent of your sin and accept God’s offer of forgiveness,” she said, “God will save you. He’ll come to live in your heart and change you into the person you were created to be.”
My heart was leaping with joy. Yes! This is what I need. This is what I want, but how am I going to do this in front of my friends?
About this time, this Holy Spirit filled woman spoke again. “You know, the Bible says if you’re ashamed of Him before men, He’ll be ashamed of you before the Father.”
Her words removed the final obstacle. Right there, on the side of the road, with cars passing and my friends watching, I bowed my head and asked Christ to be my Savior.
On July 2, 1980, on a street corner in Woodfield Park, in Columbia, SC, the old David Hatcher died, and a new man took his place. Over time, God took away my desire for drugs and alcohol and replaced it with a desire to find joy through my relationship with Him. No longer a slave to addiction and fear, I’ve spent the last 37 years growing and changing to become more like my Savior. Now, I’m free from the pointless struggle to earn God’s love. Instead, I rest in the security that He who began a good work in me will be faithful to complete it (Philippians 1:6).
This article was originally published in the November 2019 issue of The War Cry.