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How Greg got Saved, Part Four. Final BC Chapter

by | Jun 13, 2024 | News

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Yesterday we left off with the first glimmer of light I had probably had in my whole life. I had no idea what I was going to do, but for the first time I realized in earnest that whatever it was, this life of being a homeless criminal had to end somehow.

In spite of that, it didn’t end right away. I didn’t know anything else.

I should point out that I always did believe in “god”. I mean, god was not on my radar or part of my regular thought processes, but if it came up in conversation, I’d say I believed in “god”. “There has to be something” I would say. It never really went any further than that.

The last time I got arrested, they decided that they were going to keep me until my court date. I couldn’t really blame them, I had numerous failures to appear by that time and they had no reason to believe I would show up this time either. They kept me in the Washington St. jail downtown until I could see the judge. Which, as anybody knows who’s ever spent time in a holding facility, is a real blast. Never a dull moment.

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He wound up sentencing me to a few weeks in Durango, which as those familiar with the area will know, is in the southwest corner of Phoenix. I won’t get into any of the details about that either because they don’t make any difference. Jail is no fun, although Durango, at least then, was a minimum security facility so it could have been a lot worse. That was the longest I’d been in jail since I spent a week in the Wayne County Youth home in Detroit when I was 14. It was also the longest I’d been without regular drugs or alcohol.

When they released me, it was very early in the morning. They gave me back the clothes that I had been arrested in without washing them. They had been in a plastic property bag for a few weeks and were stiff and nasty. I still had the long hair and a scruffy beard.

I spent the next few hours hitchhiking in the Arizona heat after not much sleep the night before, but nobody would pick me up, even though it was legal then. I certainly can’t blame them looking back. I wouldn’t have picked me up either.

Finally a small brown car (specifics escape me), pulled over and the passenger door swung open. I got in and the driver was the exact opposite of myself and maybe a couple years older. Clean cut, neat hair and a button down collared shirt.

He politely introduced himself and asked me my name, I told him and we drove off. Small talk for a few minutes and I could tell he was nervous about something, which made me nervous. And suspicious.

Long story short, he fumbled through his nervousness and gave me a clear presentation of the gospel of salvation, by grace alone, through faith alone, in Christ alone. It didn’t take much to discern that my life was an unbridled catastrophe.

He gave me no sense that he thought he was better than me, but he did tell me that sin was what was killing me. Rebellion against my creator and only Jesus Christ could save me from it.

I didn’t want to hear it, but I did want the ride so I listened quietly. When he was done, I told him I’d think about what he’d said.

When he pulled over to let me out, I thanked him and went to close the door. He leaned into the passenger seat and offered me a handshake. I took his hand and he held on to it for a few seconds and told me:

I’m going to be praying for you Greg. I’m going to pray that Jesus will save you like he saved me. My church too. I promise.”

I don’t remember his name, but I can still see his face looking up at me from inside the car. He’d known me for a grand total of maybe 45 minutes and he cared about me. I could tell. I KNOW those people prayed for me. Seed planted.

I was mandated by the court to attend AA meetings… again. This time I figured, what do I have to lose? I don’t remember exactly how I found out, but there was an alano club at 68th street and Thomas. Although I most assuredly did not fit in there socially, the people were friendly and accepting of me.

I got some phone numbers and offers from a couple of them to give me rides to different meetings. They were actually helpful. I can’t take that part away from them.

I did get clean and sober and one of the guys there let me move in with him and I got a job. Eventually I got a better job with a company that made office partitions and I also got my own place. A mobile home in a park at 42nd Ave. and Van Buren. Not the greatest place and not the greatest part of town, but it was my place and I was beginning to feel vaguely like a responsible adult. I didn’t have a car or even a driver’s license, but I did have a decent bike and was able to get around pretty well.

There’s a thousand stories during this time as well that are also not worth getting into to, so I won’t

Fast forward 14 months from that first AA meeting and I was pretty disillusioned with AA. Nonstop drama. Who was having an affair with who, business partners suing each other and constant gossip and backbiting. I was happy to be clean and sober, but the whole thing had turned plastic to me.

No real, trustworthy relationships and it became clear that these people, including myself, stayed sober meeting to meeting. It was just another kind of dependence. The constant refrain about how we’re sick, we’re sick, we’re sick. It’s a disease we’ll never recover from. We’re always recovering, never recovered. I had no substantive respect for even the people I called friends in AA.

I wasn’t in danger of going back to the dope and the alcohol, and I kept going to meetings because frankly, I was afraid not to, but the whole thing left me longing for something more.

Despite the fact that I had a job, a place and a girlfriend, and had been clean and sober for over a year, I was treading water in life and the sense of emptiness was growing all the time. I had thought since that morning in the field that if I could just get this monkey of addiction off my back, and get off the street, I would be ok.

I wasn’t. But that was about to change.

Tune in tomorrow and I’ll tell you how the sovereign electing grace of a merciful God made me his own possession, that I may proclaim his excellencies who called me out of darkness and into his marvelous light.

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